At a press conference conference Wednesday night, head coach Matt Luke stressed the importance of preparation.
While the offense looked explosive against South Alabama, he brought up the challenge of UT Martin’s 3-3-5 defense. The three linebackers and plethora of defensive backs gives the Skyhawks versatility in coverage and will provide multiple looks that could throw off Shea Patterson and the Rebel offense.
“They can create bare looks or create a forward-down look by stepping one of them off and dropping eight in the coverage and rushing three,” Luke said. “You really have to be prepared. We’re going to have to make some post-snap adjustments based on where they are.”
After playing South Alabama, Luke hopes to see more touchdowns at the red zone from the offense and an increase in tackles by the defense.
“I want to see guys when they get their opportunities to take advantage of it, especially guys who are fighting for playing time and are fighting for depth,” Luke said. “I want to see those guys compete and take pride because at some point in the season we will need all of them.”
The Rebels defeated South Alabama 47-27 on Saturday night highlighted by Patterson, who completed 28 of 35 passes for 429 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. The majority of the workload went to wide receiver A.J. Brown who had a day, pulling in the ball eight times, setting a school record with 233 receiving yards
Excited to have the first win under his belt – with much credit to Patterson and Brown – Luke now wants to prove he can handle the weekly grind of being head coach at an SEC school.
“It’s not about this season,” Luke said. “It’s about a program and setting standards for 15 years down the road, how you want to build your program and set standards on a day-to-day basis.”
Defensive back Zedrick Woods said he has a stronger sense of responsibility this year than he did last season.
“I feel like I’m more in the role of a leader, so if something goes wrong, it’s on me,” he said.
Woods said he was displeased with last week’s tackles after watching film. Not being lined up correctly can have a major effect on the run game, he said.
“For us as safeties, those extra two yards can cause a running back to get outside of us really quick, so it’s just alignment assignments to get the job done.”
In his newfound leadership role, Woods has taken Jaylon Jones under his wing to help him transition from safety to corner.
“He really has to learn the defense, so I spend a lot of time with him in the film room,” Woods said. “He’s catching on really quick.”
The Rebels have started their 1-0 season off healthy, with injuries being few and far between after week one.
After hurting his thumb playing South Alabama, D.D. Bowie had surgery Wednesday morning for a torn ligament. Bowie will be out for Saturday’s game but should return soon.
The game will kick off at 11 a.m. Saturday, and head coach Matt Luke will turn to a new style of play and rely on his healthy locker room to grind out another win against the Jaguars.