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Luke previews Ole Miss opener in weekly news conference

Ole Miss plays Texas Tech on Saturday in Houston, Texas.

Posted: Aug 27, 2018 5:44 PM
Updated: Aug 27, 2018 6:00 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday recapping the preseason, and looking forward to Saturday's season opener against Texas Tech (11a.m. CT, ESPN). The full transcript can be found below.

Opening statement…
"Excited about game week, this is an awesome opportunity on a big stage. I have a lot of respect for Texas Tech. I think it will be a really tough opener. I think we'll find out a lot about our team right off the bat. They (Texas Tech) have 10 starters coming back on defense, a defense that led the Big 12 in turnovers (29). They're really physical inside with Brooks and Allen and have two physical safeties. Their offense is always good, they're an offense that spreads the field, gets their playmakers in space. They have a really good receiver in Vasher who is 6-foot-6. He can stretch the field and make plays. The game will be a huge challenge right off the bat and a good litmus test for us. A really early national TV game against a really good opponent, we are excited about that."

Injury update…
"A.J. Brown practiced yesterday, so did (Braylon) Sanders and DaMarkus (Lodge) and all looked good. Ken Webster did not, needs one more day and will practice tomorrow. He is probable. Javion Hamilton practiced, and he was fine."

On Sincere David's health…
"He is probable. He did not practice, but I think he will be available to give us some snaps, maybe 20, but we'll find out more Tuesday. He went from questionable to probable. Won't be able to go the whole game because of conditioning since he hasn't practiced very much."

On defensive leaders in the huddle…
"I think Josiah (Coatney) has become that on the D-line. I feel really comfortable with (C.J.) Moore and (Zedrick) Woods. They're kind of the QB's of the defense. They're both older guys who have been there so those three. Victor Evans, as well, has stepped up and emerged as a leader."

On struggles against the run last year if Texas Tech will try to exploit that…
"I do, I think any team, whether they're known for the run or pass, is going to try and run the ball early. Try to establish the run, I think any team is going to do that especially when you try to attack a weakness. We're going to have to prove we can stop the run early."

On the linebacker situation…
"I think that what happens is you're looking for energy and toughness in guys that will fly around and hit you. That's what Momo (Mohamed Sanogo) and (Kevontae') Ruggs have given us. I think we'll have Willie Hibbler that knows what to do and he is improving because of the competition, but I have been very impressed with those guys flying around and bringing that energy. That's what you need from a linebacker, that flying around looking for a big-time play. Both those guys are athletic enough to play in space. This game is going to be a space game and I think that's important."

On the Texas Tech vs. TCU game last year, shutting down the Tech passing game…
"TCU did a good job of subbing out. They would play a few more DB's in the game and took some linebackers out of the game. They did a nice job with their substitution packages, and that worked out well for them."

On bringing in prospects in the Houston area…
"We are able to do that. It's a little bit different. We can provide tickets for them, those guys in Houston, but you can't see them or talk to them because it's off campus. Being an 11 a.m. kickoff, it will be harder for people to get there from further away so it's the Houston kids mainly."

On improving as a staff from the last year's experience…
"You're always looking for ways to improve. I think just going through that experience, just all that stuff helps but always year to year you always look at yourself. What can I do better? And not even year to year, week to week, we're always looking for ways to improve."

On the running back situation…
"Scottie (Phillips) will start the game and go, but I think you always have to keep guys fresh. If he goes in there three or four (series in a row), we have other backs that can go in there that will be better for us if Scottie gets tired. Scottie will start the game and get the majority of the carries, but you'll see some other backs throughout the game based on situations in where those guys are best at."

On playing big time opponent in NFL stadium…
"It's big. I think, like I said earlier, you find out very early about your football team. You won't have any time to break in. It's big-time football right off the bat in an NFL stadium on national TV. We're really excited to go out there and see where we're at. I think the guys are tired of hitting each other. They're ready to go out and face an opponent. It will be a really great test to see where we are."

On the air raid offense and why it's hard to defend…
"Putting playmakers in space, making you have to make plays in space, distributing the ball, not just focusing on one area, needing to defend the whole field, that's what makes it unique. (Texas Tech head coach) Kliff (Kingsbury) has been really good at that for a long time."

On the rising of Jacquez Jones…
"He continues to get better, somewhere around practice six or seven he hit the freshman wall, but he bounced back. You're going to see him play. His physicality, knowledge, and his linebacker instincts show up around the football. We're excited about what he has done. He has good football instincts, not just on pass or run. He's a natural linebacker, he moved in from safety in high school. He understands the fits in the run game and the drops in the pass game. For a freshman, I have been very impressed with his football IQ."

On Texas Techs QB's and challenges not knowing starter…
"The challenge is the QB's are different. You got Carter who started the Texas game then you have Jett Duffey who is more of an athlete. They are totally different, and you have to prepare for both. Sometimes you don't know exactly who you'll get which makes it a challenge. We have practiced against both. We play a similar style offense, so our defense has seen it. They've seen Jordan (Ta'amu) pull the ball and drop back pass, so we'll be prepared."

On Ben Brown starting…
"Ben is a very talented individual, but Jordan (Sims) is a guy going who you're going to see a lot. I see him as the sixth starter. He's going to play some guard, he'll play some center, and just to have him and his experience there will be huge. He'll be a calming effect for Ben on the sidelines but he'll also be there to play meaningful snaps. He can play both guard and center so having a guy like Jordan is valuable."

On Matt Corral playing…
"The plan is to go with Jordan the whole time. If there is any opportunity to get Matt in there we'd like to see him get some experience. Right now, the plan is to play Jordan the whole game, but if the opportunity presents itself it'd certainly be Matt Corral."

On the game plan for the four-game freshman rule regarding redshirts…
"All of these freshmen that you're seeing on the 2-deep (depth chart), there won't be a question of the four games or not. All those guys are going to play. Again, the guys that are going to be ready, we are going to put them in there these first four games, and there will be some guys that are developing more we can use in the last four games."

On Texas Tech running the ball…
"Tre King is coming back. He is a very one-cut physical runner, likes to get downhill. They have most of the O-line coming back They have seen us on tape, our trouble stopping the run, so I think you're going to see that early in the game."

On special teams…
I have been cautiously optimistic there, very similar to the RB situation where we're trying to replace somebody. Mac Brown has hit it well, a very athletic guy who can do a lot of different things. He can run it, he can throw it, he can really kick it. He provides us some opportunity there, and I've been very impressed with him. (Luke) Logan has had a really good camp. He's got a strong leg, but he's got to go out there and do it in the game. The fact that he's been in an SEC game and has done it gives me a little bit of a comfort, but he's done a good job in camp."

On Texas Tech's takeaways…
"You always prepare for ball security, so that's always something you're working on. You are aware that they're very good, and the improvement they made from 2016-2017 they got better in virtually every category. This is a defense that's getting better and returning almost all of their starters, so it's a very formidable defense."

On punt return…
"Right now, as of today, with A.J.'s injury he hasn't been back there much, so Elijah Moore will be back there to start with Tylan Knight a little too. Jaylon Jones will be back on kickoffs."

On what he wants to see from the team…
"I want to see a confident, fast attacking football team. Offensively and defensively, we want to put their team on their heels where we aren't backing down on ours. That's what I'm looking for this weekend."

On Ohio State, Urban Meyer and takeaways from the suspension…
"You always want to do things the right way, and you want to learn from every situation. We feel confident in our plan, but you always have to look at ways you can be better. You take the mistakes that other people make and you learn from those mistakes, but we feel very confident in what we have in place here."

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