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Luke, Rebels prepare for Egg Bowl

Kickoff on Thursday is set for 6:30 p.m.

Posted: Nov 20, 2017 9:53 PM
Updated: Nov 20, 2017 10:53 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the home finale with Texas A&M, and preview Thursday night’s Egg Bowl battle at Mississippi State (6:30 p.m., ESPN).


Opening Statement…
“Egg Bowl week. It’s a huge week for us with a big rivalry game on the road and we’re looking forward to the challenge. It’s a tough turnaround coming off of Saturday and getting ready for a Thursday game. That obviously presents some challenges, but having a rivalry game to get ready for helps your focus. We’re looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to the opportunity.”

On the rivalry…
“It’s always been a big game for as long as I can remember. To the people of the state of Mississippi, this is bragging rights. It’s a huge game, and it is every year, no matter the situation.”

On his personal connection to the Egg Bowl rivalry…
“I’m 41 so this is really Egg Bowl 41 for me. I remember my brother (Tom), we played in Jackson. I remember being at that game and him running for a couple touchdowns. I think maybe it was the Clarion-Ledger the next day, the headline said, ‘The Gospel According to Luke.’ I just always thought that was really cool. It was a great memory for me. Then obviously playing and coaching in it, it is a great rivalry and it’s great for the whole state of Mississippi.”

On Mississippi State…
“They do a great job of running the football. That’s something we’ve struggled with, so we have our work cut out going there and stopping the run and forcing them to throw it. They’ve done a great job on defense. Coach (Todd) Grantham has done a phenomenal job. We have to do a good job of handling crowd noise, first and foremost. Then we have to keep our balance. We have to play fast and be able to run the football then take advantage of our matchups on the outside.”

On the second half vs. Texas A&M…
“We got behind the chains a bunch. Typically, we haven’t been very good when we’ve been behind the chains, and I don’t think any offense is. You can’t have penalties. You can’t have negative yardage plays. And obviously the turnover for a touchdown was the difference in the game. Then maybe a little bit the wind, effecting the ball down the field, I think that affected both offenses in the second half.”

On the defense’s strong play vs. Texas A&M...
“Watching the tape, we got off blocks better. We weren’t just in our gaps. We got off blocks and made plays. Our DBs pressed a little more and challenged the receivers a little more. I was happy to see that. We got a turnover and basically held them to three points in the second half. I was really pleased with the strides. Our challenge this week is to put our total game together. We’ve got one last game. We have four days together. Let’s go and play our best game collectively this week.”

On how the team’s emotions will play out in this game…
“This game is emotional for a lot of different reasons. But my job is to focus on these players and give them the best chance to win this game. I’ve said this before, I’ve been a part of teams that have had a better record, but I am really proud of what this team has been able to accomplish with all they’ve been through. We have one more opportunity to go play together. We’re going to enjoy these four days together and we’re going to enjoy Thursday night.”

Injury report…
“Alex Givens is going to be out. He’s in the concussion protocol, and because of the quick turnaround, there’s not going to be enough time to get him back. D’Vaughn Pennamon is probably going to have surgery in the next two to three weeks. It’s a pretty significant injury. He’ll be out for some significant time. Jordan Ta’amu is fine. He was hit in the throat, but he came back and he’s been fine. Defensively, Jalen Julius is still in concussion protocol. Markell Pack is going to be probable. I hope he’ll (Pack) do some stuff today and maybe practice tomorrow. With the injury to Van Jefferson, that’s big and will give us some depth in the slot. Van didn’t practice yesterday. I don’t want to rule him all the way out, but he’s questionable at best.”

On Braylon Sanders…
“In the slot behind A.J. Brown, he’s the next guy up. So if A.J. runs a deep ball or gets winded, Braylon is going to go in there. I’m really proud of him. He’s one of the guys who was one of the pleasant surprises of fall camp. You saw that he has ability, and he has a bright future ahead of him. Any time you can get out there and get your feet wet and make plays in an SEC game, I think that bodes well for his future.”

On the importance of this game for A.J. Brown…
“A.J. is not only one of our leaders and top players, he’s one of the top players in the country. He’ll be a focal point for us to get him the ball. I’m sure this will be a big game for him. It’s a big game for all of us and anyone from Mississippi, but especially for him. Coming back home, I’m sure it’ll be a big game and be emotional. But all his teammates will be behind him, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity and the challenge.”

On Deontay Anderson…
“In all my dealings with him, Deontay is a great kid and we wish him the best. As far as all the transfer stuff, there’s a standard operating procedure that you have to go through compliance for all of that. They’ll handle all of that. But for me, he’s been great. He’s been on the scout team this year while taking his redshirt. He’s a good kid to be around.”

On this season for him personally…
“It’s been great. It’s been so different for me, because I was always so close to the offensive line and the offensive side of the ball. But for me to get to know the different kids on defense and to become close with the whole team and for this team to develop an identity, it’s been great and a great experience for me.”

On if the players take this rivalry personally…
“What the players are focused on is winning the football game. That’s what we have to focus on is winning the game. All the allegations and all of that stuff, none of it affects what happens on Thursday night. Our focus is going to be 100 percent on the game Thursday night and trying to go get a win.”

On if the coaches feel more pressure to win this game…
“If you’re a coach at Ole Miss, there’s always pressure to win this game no matter what. It’s always one of the biggest games of the season, and you have to treat it that way. And me being from Mississippi, I know that better than everybody.”

On dealing with the short week…
“The first thing you have to do is you have to recover from Saturday. It’s already a Wednesday in terms of the process going to the game. You can’t do as much in pads. You have to do a little more mental preparation. We have to do a little more toward the end of the week. The good thing for us is we don’t have school, so we can devote some more time watching tape and getting mentally ready for the game. But you have to take care of their bodies, because you want them to be fresh so we can compete.”

On players keeping their emotions in check…
“You want to play and compete between the whistles. You’re going to be on edge and the emotions will be high, but there’s a fine line there. You want to make sure you handle things the right way.”

On this week’s practice schedule…
“We’re practicing tonight last night and tonight so we get very similar weather to what we’re going to get at game time. As we move closer to the kickoff, we’ll move back into a normal schedule so the kids get back to their routine. But last night and tonight we’ll practice under the lights to simulate the time of the kickoff.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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Columbus
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Little bits and pieces of low pressure move back into our area over the next several days. This will bring back into our weather forecast some more chances for some isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms.
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