Luke previews Egg Bowl

The game is Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Posted: Nov 26, 2019 6:06 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to preview Thursday's Egg Bowl game against Mississippi State (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN). The full transcript can be found below.

Opening statement…
"I'm excited about Egg Bowl week. This is a big game for us, for our program. National TV, it's really a showcase game for the entire state of Mississippi, so we're excited about the opportunity. It's obviously a huge game for a number of reasons."

Injury update…
"Scottie Phillips practiced yesterday, he'll play. Ben Brown is good to go. Benito Jones cleared concussion protocol and practiced yesterday, so he'll also be good to go. Jon Haynes is probable, little bit gimpy on his ankle, but I think as we move closer to Thursday night he'll be ready to go."

On the practice routine with the short week and open date…
"We treated yesterday like a Tuesday, today is basically a Wednesday practice. With us having the open date, we did have the luxury of setting it up that way."

On the margin of defeat last year impacting the players…
"I think this game stands alone and you can't worry about what happened last year. These are two brand new teams, different set of circumstances, but I think you really don't need any extra motivation when it comes to this game. It's very important on its own."

On mentioning to players, the possibility of a bowl at 5-7…
"I think that's out there because enough people have been talking about it, but not really. It's not something we're talking about, we're focused on this game and if something does happen you welcome all the extra practice time and the ability to go to a bowl with a young team. It's like an extra spring practice, so it would be a positive, but you're certainly not focused on that. Our guys are dialed in on this game."

On Mississippi State's players suspended being back for this game…
"We have the luxury of having every game that they've played, so they have all played at one time or another. You're prepared and ready to go no matter what happens. They're going to play all their guys, we're going to play all of ours, and we'll be ready for whatever combination they throw at us."

On Mississippi State's defense…
"They're very athletic. They do a good job of movement and creating negative plays in the backfield. They have a very good pressure system; Coach (Bob) Shoop does a good job with that. The movement and their ability to blitz and get in the backfield to create negative plays, that's what you see when you turn the tape on."

On the emotions of the game…
"This is a very emotional and passionate game, and it should be, like all rivalry games should be with two passionate fan bases. It's a great college football game, but at the end of the day, you still have to go out there and play football. You have to play football between the whistles and take care of your business and go play really hard. All the other stuff is not going to affect the outcome of the game."

On his feelings towards the rivalry game…
"I think you want to be real, you don't want to be fake. It is an emotional and passionate game. I think the whole thing is that I am born and raised in the state of Mississippi. When the game is on Thursday night, and it's a national television game, you want the whole state of Mississippi to be shed in a good light with a good football game, two passionate fan bases and two good teams out there playing hard. That is the way it should be."

On who stands out for Mississippi State…
"The obvious is Kylin Hill. He's the leading rusher in the Southeastern Conference. He is a very good player and does a great job making people miss, breaking tackles, yards after contact, all of those things he is very good at. Both quarterbacks can run the football. You add that dimension, you have to account for all 11 guys all the time. And then the play action that comes off of it."

On the Mississippi State defense…
"I think they have several young defensive linemen that show up and do a really good job there. They are long at corner. They do a good job at press-man. What I alluded to earlier, they do a really good job with their pressures. They bring pressure and create negative plays, so I think that will be a big key for us. Staying on schedule, and not letting the pressure cause turnovers and things like that. They've been able to do that some as well."

On the Mississippi State quarterbacks…
"We have to be prepared for both. They went with (Tommy) Stevens last game up until the last five minutes. So, you assume he'll be the starter, but (Garrett) Shrader has done a good job with his legs and running the football. He's been competitive and diving for extra yards and all of those things. I think they are pretty similar. They both try to hurt people on the ground and have some play-actions off of it, so just being prepared for both, but they are pretty similar that way."

On the offensive line…
"I think we had a lot of question marks coming into the season. I think Coach Jack Bicknell has done an outstanding job. I think where they right now, compared to where they were after the Memphis game, it's a different unit. I think they have improved game to game and I think they've done a good job gelling and coming together. They are a cohesive unit and they are playing good, hard football. Very improved is how I would describe it. From the start to the finish, they've gotten better and give credit to Coach Bicknell for that."

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