Matt Luke makes his head-coaching debut Saturday at home against South Alabama. Among all the uncertainties surrounding Ole Miss football this season, there is one thing that is certain for coach Luke: he will be paving his own path this year.
At Wednesday’s press conference, he was adamant that he will be staying true to himself in his first season as head coach. When asked if he would be following anyone’s advice as head coach, it took him no time at all to respond.
“I don’t think you should go out there and act like you think you’re supposed to act,” Luke said. “I think I have to go out there and be myself, and whatever happens from that point you at least know you did it as you instead of trying to be like somebody else. I think that’s the most important thing for me.”
He seemed calm and collected approaching what will likely be one of the most nervous days of his entire life. Responding to multiple questions about his and his family’s nerves going into Saturday, he seemed only to radiate excitement and humility.
“I’m hoping we’ll just embrace the moment,” Luke said. “It is special, but I think the thing that helps is that it really isn’t about me; it’s about these kids, and I don’t think you can make it about anybody else. It’s a collective group, and I’m just so proud of these kids and what they’ve been through.”
Not to much surprise, D.K. Metcalf seemed equally ready for the game and season after coming off a disappointing past season. Missing considerable time due to a foot injury, he’s ready to get back out there.
“I know football is a dangerous sport,” Metcalf said. “I can’t think about the foot. I just go out there and play.”
Metcalf had an air of confidence about him at the press conference, seamlessly answering every question without a second thought. Not only is he very confident with the new faces in the coaching staff but with his teammates as well. Emotion lit up his beaming face while talking up teammate A.J. Brown, especially when he was asked about Brown moving to the slot recently in practice.
“A.J. can play anywhere, man,” he said. “No matter where you put him, he can play.”
The true brotherhood and confidence among the players in the room was clear.
Along with Metcalf’s hype train comes the naysayers claiming he’s a strictly physical specimen lacking on-field knowledge and receiving talent. Unfazed, he made it clear he’s going to leave no doubt on the field.
“Let them talk,” he said.
And that’s just what the Rebels hope to do Saturday against South Alabama. After all the hullabaloo, all the uncertainty and all the chaos, the men look to strap up their helmets and do their talking on the field. Show up and show out.