Coming off of three straight away games, head coach Matt Luke is ready to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in Ole Miss’ first home game since Sept. 9. Losing all three on the road, Luke is ready to turn the culture around and wants to improve the little things in practice before taking on another SEC competitor.
“It’s all the little things that it takes,” Luke said. “The focus and the feel of what it feels like to play good football and the energy, being in the right place, doing the techniques right, the communication.”
Ole Miss was beaten handily by both Alabama and Auburn the last two weekends. A win this week is important in ensuring that the Rebels can keep a positive mindset as the year continues.
“It’s cliche, but you want to start every game fast,” Luke said. “It’s what we have to do to win games. You can’t dig yourself a hole and hope for moral victories. That isn’t how you win games. We have to put together a four-quarter football game and play the way we know we are capable of playing, and that’s important for us to do that.”
Despite the fast start against Auburn, it wasn’t enough to stay competitive the entire game.
“I just think young kids learning how to play, experience, being in the right place, the consistency it takes to be good in this league down after down after down,” Luke said. “You just cannot have two good plays then two bad plays, or they will score on you. You just have to be consistent over and over and over again, and that’s what we have to learn how to do.”
With consistency being one of the biggest issues for an explosive Rebel offense, it will take a lot to overcome the Vanderbilt secondary. Being one of their strong suits this year, the Commodores have only allowed 5.7 yards a catch. This poses an issue for an Ole Miss team that has gone to the air more often than not.
“Vanderbilt has a good defense, but they have struggled against the run some,” Luke said. “Georgia and Alabama ran the ball really well on them, but they have really good defense. They have a lot of guys that played on last year’s defense — that’s about the most in our league — so they are very good, and (head coach Derek) Mason does a good job.”
With an experienced defense on the horizon and the concerns around the Ole Miss team, Luke is trying to push the players to encourage and pull for each other throughout the game.
“It doesn’t matter if we win 3-0 or 44-40,” Luke said. “As long as you’re winning and everyone is pulling for each other, you can just focus in and play good football. That’s what I’m seeing. That’s the big thing is keeping everybody positive and pushing in the same direction, regardless of the distractions or the situations you’re in.”
With high hopes, Ole Miss will square off against a talented Vanderbilt team. The homecoming matchup will kick off at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.