OLE MISS at CAL – Game Notes

GAME 3
Date: Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017
Time: 9:30 p.m. CT
Location: Berkeley, Calif.
Venue: California Memorial Stadium (62,467)
     Surface: FieldTurf
Series: First meeting
     In Berkeley: First meeting
Live Stats: OleMissSports.com
Live Audio: OleMissSports.com
Twitter Updates: @OleMissFB
Television: ESPN
Bob Wischusen, Play-by-Play
Brock Huard, Analyst
Allison Williams, Sideline
Satellite Radio: Sirius 83, XM 83

WHAT TO WATCH FOR …

• Ole Miss looks to improve to 3-0 under first-year head coach Matt Luke … The Rebels have started the season 3-0 in three of the last four years … Ole Miss boasts an all-time record of 662-511-35 (.563 winning percentage).

• This marks the first-ever meeting between the Rebels and the Bears, and Ole Miss has never faced a current member of the Pac-12 Conference … UM is making just its second-ever trip to the state of California after traveling to Fresno State in 2011.

• Matt Luke is in his 10th season at Ole Miss but first season at the helm, taking the reins of his alma mater as the 38th head coach in program history … Luke became the fifth straight Ole Miss head coach to post a victory in his first game on the Rebel sideline.

• Sophomore QB Shea Patterson threw for a school-record 489 yards in the win over UT Martin, breaking Chad Kelly’s previous record of 465 yards … It was also the 13th most passing yards in a game in SEC history … Patterson leads the nation in passing, averaging 459.0 yards per game, and passing TDs (9).

• Sophomore WR A.J. Brown posted his second straight 100-yard receiving game with eight catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns in Ole Miss’ win over the Skyhawks … Brown leads the nation in receiving yards per game (194.5) and ranks fourth nationally with four receiving touchdowns.

• Ole Miss ranks 17th nationally in total offense averaging 537.0 yards per game.

OLE MISS HEAD COACH MATT LUKE 

Matt Luke (Ole Miss, 2000) is in his 10th season at Ole Miss but first season at the helm, taking the reins of his alma mater as the 38th head coach in school history. The Rebels are 65-49 with Luke on staff as a full-time coach, including a perfect 2-0 with him leading the program. He was born a Rebel as his family has ties to Ole Miss that span three generations. During his 23 years as a player and coach at the collegiate level, Luke has risen through the ranks while learning from a number of successful veteran coaches. He has worked alongside national champion Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe and former Ole Miss head coach Tommy Tuberville, among others. On the field, he has mentored 17 all-league selections as well as All-Americans and first-round draft picks Laremy Tunsil and Laken Tomlinson. Luke, a four-year center for the Rebels (1995-98), spent the past five seasons as the team’s co-offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. During his first stop in Oxford (2002-05), he served four seasons coaching the Ole Miss tight ends and offensive line under Cutcliffe.

CAL HEAD COACH JUSTIN WILCOX

Justin Wilcox (Oregon, 1999) is in his first year as the Golden Bears’ head coach. Leading the Cal program is the first head coaching job for Wilcox, who previously spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach throughout the college football landscape. He returned to Berkeley after spending three seasons as the Golden Bears’ linebackers coach from 2003-05 in his first position as a full-time coach following two campaigns as a graduate assistant at Boise State (2001-02). Cal posted a 26-12 during his first stint in Berkeley with trips to the Insight, Holiday and Las Vegas bowls. He served as a defensive coordinator for the last 11 years, including his most recent stop at Wisconsin in 2016. Prior to coaching the Badger, Wilcox was a Pac-12 defensive coordinator at Washington (2012-13) and USC (2014-15). He got a taste of SEC Football as Tennessee’s defensive coordinator during the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and Wilcox’s first defensive coordinator gig occurred during his second stop at Boise State (2006-09) after leaving Cal in 2005.

CAL SCOUTING REPORT

Cal enters this weekend’s matchup winners of its first two games of the season. The Golden Bears began the year on the road at North Carolina, knocking off the Tar Heels 35-30. Last Saturday, Cal claimed a 33-20 decision over Weber State in the first of three consecutive games at California Memorial Stadium. Patrick Laird leads the Cal rushing attack, averaging exactly 100 yards per game. QB Ross Bowers has completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 563 yards and four touchdowns through the first two games of the season. His favorite receiver has been redshirt-junior Vic Wharton III, who has hauled in 10 catches for 202 yards. On the other side of the ball, the Cal defense has forced six turnovers to lead the Pac-12 and rank third nationally. With 12 solo tackles, linebacker Raymond Davison III paces the conference.

REBEL-GOLDEN BEAR CONNECTIONS

• Before coming to Oxford, Ole Miss WR coach Jacob Peeler served on the California coaching staff for four seasons (2013-16); Peeler was a graduate assistant (2013-14) before becoming the inside receivers coach for the Golden Bears (2015-16).

• Ole Miss P Will Gleeson and Cal backup P Steven Coutts are both from Australia; Gleeson hails from Melbourne, while Coutts is a native of Brisbane.

CALIFORNIA REBELS

Sophomore LS Kamden Darney is the only Rebel from the state of California. Darney called Upland, California his hometown, and he attended Loyola HS before continuing his education at Ole Miss.

REBELS VERSUS PAC-12 OPPONENTS

Ole Miss has never faced a current member of the Pac-12 conference. However, the Rebel have faced a team associated with the league’s past. Idaho was a member of the Pacific Coast Conference from 1922-59 until it dissolved amid numerous scandals. The league later re-emerged as the Pacific-8 in 1968 before expanding throughout the years, but Idaho never joined the conference again, In 2013, Ole Miss captured a 59-14 victory over the Vandals in Oxford.

LUKE FAMILY LEGACY

Longtime Rebel Matt Luke, making his head coaching debut in this game, bleeds Red and Blue as deeply as anyone. A four-year center for the Rebels (1995-98), he is entering his 10th year overall as a member of the Ole Miss coaching staff. He grew up a Rebel fan thanks to his father, Tommy, who was a defensive back at Ole Miss in the 1960s and his brother, Tom, who quarterbacked the Rebels from 1989-91. Tom is also on the Ole Miss football staff as assistant athletics director for player development, while Tom’s son, Cale, is a senior wide receiver on the squad. Matt is married to the former Ashley Grantham of Oxford, and they have two sons, Harrison and Cooper.

COACHING DEBUTS

With Matt Luke’s win over South Alabama, Ole Miss’ last five head coaches have been victorious in their first game on the Rebel sideline. Of those that have coached since joining the SEC in 1933, the Rebels are 11-4 in their debut.

OPENERS

• The Rebels are 91-27-5 (.760 winning percentage) in season openers and have taken 18 of the last 22.

•  Ole Miss is 100-17-5 (.840 winning pct.) in home openers … When playing their home opener in Oxford, the Rebels are 78-10-4 (.870 winning pct.) … Ole Miss has won each of its last six home openers.

OLE MISS IN SEPTEMBER

• Ole Miss is 162-85-7 (.652 winning pct.) all-time during the month of September.

• The Rebels are 48-45-1 (.516 winning pct.) in September SEC games.

• Ole Miss is 115-39-6 (.738 winning pct.) all-time versus non-conference opponents during the month.

• Ole Miss is 103-32-3 (.757 winning pct.) in September home games (including home contests played in Memphis and Jackson), including a 78-19-2 (.798 winning percentage) mark in September games played in Oxford.

• The Rebels went 2-2 last season – vs. No. 4 Florida State (L, 34-45), Wofford (W, 38-13), No. 1 Alabama (L, 43-48), No. 11 Georgia (W, 45-14).

WATCH LIST REBELS

Ole Miss players have garnered a bunch of preseason honors this year, including several players tabbed Preseason All-America and Preseason All-SEC by media outlets. The following Rebels have been recognized on watch lists for some of the biggest awards in college football:

• DeMarquis Gates: Butkus Award

• Marquis Haynes: Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Ted Hendricks Award, Lott IMPACT Trophy

• Greg Little: Outland Trophy

• Javon Patterson: Wuerffel Trophy, AFCA Good Works Team

• Shea Patterson: Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award

• Sean Rawlings: Rimington Trophy

• Gary Wunderlich: Lou Groza Award

PATTERSON BREAK PASSING RECORD AGAINST SKYHAWKS

Sophomore QB Shea Patterson threw for a school-record 489 yards and a career-best five touchdowns in Ole Miss win over UT Martin. He broke Chad Kelly’s previous Ole Miss record of 465 yards set last season against Auburn and finished one TD shy of tying Eli Manning’s school record six touchdown passes set against Arkansas in 2001. Patterson completed 32 of 43 attempts (74.4 pct.) to nine different receivers. The 489 yards passing is the 13th-most in SEC history just behind Tim Couch and Peyton Manning, who each threw for 492 yards.

DYNAMIC DUO LEADS THE NATION

The dynamic sophomore duo of WR A.J. Brown and QB Shea Patterson have put up some incredible numbers through two games of the season. Brown leads nation in receiving yards per game (194.5), while Patterson leads the country in passing yards per game (459.0) and passing touchdowns (9). Brown also ranks fourth in the NCAA in receiving TDs (4), while Patterson is sixth in nation with a 211.3 passing efficiency and seventh completing 76.9 percent of his attempts.

FINAL CAMPAIGN FOR SACK-MASTER HAYNES

Preseason All-American DE Marquis Haynes ranks third in school history with 25.0 career sacks and fourth with 37.0 TFLs. He led the Rebels in sacks as a freshman (7.5), sophomore (10.0) and junior (7.0). The Jacksonville, Florida, native is a unanimous preseason All-SEC first-team pick and made watch lists for the Bednarik, Nagurski, Hendricks and Lott IMPACT awards.

BROWN’S CAREER DAY LEADS REBELS OVER SOUTH ALABAMA

Sophomore WR A.J. Brown had a career day for the Rebels Saturday against South Alabama. The Starkville, Mississippi native hauled in eight receptions for 233 yards and two scores, breaking Eddie Small’s Ole Miss record of 210 receiving yards set versus Vanderbilt in 1993. Brown’s total of 233 yards also tied Pharoh Cooper of South Carolina for the 13th most receiving yards in a game in SEC history. His two TD catches of 71 and 77 yards also marked the first time in school history a receiver posted two 70-plus yard touchdowns in the same game.

PATTERSON PUTS ON A SHOW VERSUS JAGS

Sophomore QB Shea Patterson put on a show Saturday versus the Jaguars, throwing for a career-best 429 yards and four scores in the Ole Miss victory. Patterson completed 28 of 35 attempts (80.0 pct.) finishing just shy of Eli Manning’s school record 80.6 completion percentage (min. 30 attempts). The 429 yards passing was the most since Chad Kelly threw for 465 yards against Auburn last year and the third most in school history trailing only Kelly and Archie Manning (436). The four TD passes were a personal best and the most since Kelly tossed four scores against Florida State a year ago. Patterson connected with sophomore WR A.J. Brown on a pair of 71 and 77-yard touchdown passes in the third quarter. The 77-yarder was Patterson’s longest career completion and the longest TD pass since Jevan Snead connected with Mike Wallace for 88 yards in 2008 versus Louisiana-Monroe. Patterson also joined Eli Manning as the only two Rebel QBs with two 70-plus yard touchdown passes in the same game. Manning recorded the feat against Vanderbilt in 2002.

GARY “WUNDER-KICK”

After a nearly flawless junior season, K/P Gary Wunderlich enters his senior season as one of the nation’s top placekickers, while also being able to handle punting and kickoff duties from time to time. The Memphis, Tennessee, native led all NCAA kickers with an SEC-record 95.7 field-goal percentage last year, converting 22 of 23 attempts. Dating back to last season, he made 19 straight field goals before a miss in the fourth quarter against South Alabama. He broke Bryson Rose’s previous school record of 17 straight and ranks second in SEC history for consecutive field goals made trailing only Georgia’s Marshall Morgan by one. A Lou Groza Award semifinalist last year, he has been named to the watch list this preseason, as well as to various preseason All-America and All-SEC squads.

FIRST-TIME STARTERS

Five Rebels made their first career starts against South Alabama: (Offense) D.K. Metcalf (WR); (Defense) Josiah Coatney (DT), Donta Evans (LB), Victor Evans (DE) and C.J. Moore (FS).

DEBUTS

Fifteen players have made their Ole Miss debut this season: Ryder Anderson, Gabe Angel, D.D. Bowie, Mac Brown, Breon Dixon, Donta Evans, Kweisi Fountain, D.J. Forte, Javien Hamilton, Luke Logan, Royce Newman, Tre Nixon, Jack Propst, Mohamed Sango, Qaadir Sheppard, Jordan Ta’amu, Charles Wiley and Brenden Williams

NEW BLOOD

• With six offensive starters and five defensive starters gone from last year’s team, the Ole Miss coaches will be looking for younger players to fill some of those big shoes.

• Six of last year’s starters are currently on NFL rosters: WR Quincy Adeboyejo (UFA, Ravens), TE Evan Engram (1st-round pick, Giants), DT D.J. Jones (6th-round pick, 49ers), RB Akeem Judd (UFA, Titans), QB Chad Kelly (7th-round pick, Broncos), WR Damore’ea Stringfellow (UFA, Dolphins) … CB Derrick Jones (6th-round pick, Jets) and CB Carlos Davis (UFA, Rams) are also in the league.

• Record-breaking QB Chad Kelly is now in the NFL, but sophomore QB Shea Patterson gained crucial experience when he started the final three games last season after Kelly went down with a knee injury … In his first game as starter, Patterson led a second-half comeback in a 29-28 win at No. 8 Texas A&M.

• Ole Miss lost three of its top four receivers from 2016 (Engram, Stringfellow, Adeboyejo), but the cupboard is still quite full at receiver with the likes of senior Markell Pack, junior DaMarkus Lodge and sophomores A.J. Brown, Van Jefferson and D.K. Metcalf, among others.

WELCOME BACK

• The following players are returning from injuries or ineligibility last season and are expected to play key roles this fall:

• DB C.J. Moore: Penciled in as the starter at free safety, Moore missed all of 2016 with a torn pectoral.

• RB Eric Swinney: After a redshirt in 2015, missed all of 2016 after a knee injury in the opener vs. Florida State.

• DB Ken Webster: Has been practicing at both CB and FS … Missed all of 2016 after suffering a knee injury in the opener vs. Florida State … Full-time starter at CB in 2015.

• RB Jordan Wilkins: Rushed for 379 yards and four TDs as a sophomore in 2015.

OFFENSIVE NOTES

• Ole Miss returns five starters and 28 lettermen from last year’s offense that led the SEC in passing and ranked top four in scoring and total offense.

• Shea Patterson returns after starting the final three games of his freshman season following Chad Kelly’s (now with Denver Broncos) ACL injury.

• Leading rusher Akeem Judd (826 yards) graduated, leaving senior Jordan Wilkins as the leader of the RB corps … Senior Eugene Brazley and sophomores D’Vaughn Pennamon and Eric Swinney will compete for carries.

• The Rebels have to replace full-time starting WRs Damore’ea Stringfellow (Miami Dolphins) and Quincy Adeboyejo (Baltimore Ravens) who were Nos. 3 and 4 on the team in receiving yards, respectively. last year.

• Top returning WRs are sophomore Van Jefferson (who started every game last year and earned Freshman All-America honors), sophomore A.J. Brown, junior DaMarkus Lodge, senior Markell Pack and sophomore D.K. Metcalf, who combined for 10 TD catches last year.

• Gone is first team All-American and statistically the best tight end in school history Evan Engram (New York Giants) who is the only four-time All-SEC pick in school history and finished his career with 162 receptions, 2,320 receiving yards and 15 TD catches.

• Ole Miss returns four of five starters from last year’s O-line and several others who earned starts and significant snaps throughout the season.

DEFENSIVE NOTES

• The Rebels return six starters and 28 lettermen from last year’s defense.

• All-SEC end Marquis Haynes returns to lead the Landshark Defense … A senior, he ranks third in school history with 25.0 career sacks and fourth with 37.0 tackles for loss.

• Freshman All-American Benito Jones will be a sophomore and returning starter Breeland Speaks a junior, to lead the way on the interior of the defense.

• Senior DeMarquis Gates, who led the team with 76 tackles in 2015 and 79 in 2016, is the lone returning starter at LB and has played on both the inside and outside throughout his career.

• Returning starters at DB include Zedrick Woods (moving from FS to SS) and Myles Hartsfield (moving from rover to CB), a Freshman All-America pick.

• Ole Miss lost four senior cornerbacks from last year, but still return a load of young experience that provides promise for this season, including sophomores Jaylon Jones and Jalen Julius, and senior Ken Webster, a full-time starter in 2015, who returns after injuring his knee against Florida State last year.

SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES

• The kicking game should be a strong point this year with senior returnees Gary Wunderlich at placekicker and Will Gleeson at punter … Both are entering their fourth seasons as full-time starters.

• With the loss of kick/punt returner Carlos Davis (Los Angeles Rams), Ole Miss will look to Jordan Wilkins, Eugene Brazley, Jalen Julius, Tre Nixon, A.J. Brown and Van Jefferson to help fill those shoes

ODDS AND ENDS

• Ole Miss plays 10 bowl teams from last year, tied for second-most in the country with Duke and South Carolina … Only Notre Dame and Syracuse (11) will play more.

• The Rebels will face South Alabama and California for the first time this year.

• After four years of very little coaching turnover, Ole Miss will break in a new offensive coordinator (Phil Longo), defensive coordinator (Wesley McGriff), linebackers coach (Bradley Dale Peveto), defensive line coach (Fred die Roach), offensive line coach (Jack Bicknell Jr.) and wide receivers coach (Jacob Peeler) this season.

CHUCKY MULLINS COURAGE AWARD

In the spring, senior DE Marquis Haynes became the 27th different Rebel to be awarded the Chucky Mullins Courage Award, which goes to a standout defensive player each year. The award honors the late Chucky Mullins, who had his Ole Miss career come to an end during the 1989 Homecoming game against Vanderbilt when he was paralyzed after making a tackle. After returning to his studies at Ole Miss, Mullins passed away May 6, 1991. Haynes wears the No. 38 jersey in Mullins’ honor this season.

LUKE’S WEEKLY RADIO SHOW ON TUESDAYS

RebTalk, the official weekly radio show of Ole Miss Athletics, is moving to a new day and location for this season. Beginning Aug. 29, RebTalk will be broadcast each Tuesday this fall at Bouré in downtown Oxford from 7-8 p.m. The show, which is hosted by the “Voice of the Rebels” David Kellum and includes special guests, will air live on the Ole Miss IMG Sports Network. Ole Miss Football head coach Matt Luke and select players will join the broadcast each Tuesday throughout the 2017 season. There is no show scheduled for Sept. 19, the Rebels’ bye week. – RN