Matt Luke previews Egg Bowl

Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the Vanderbilt game and look ahead to the Rebels' final game of the season, a matchup with Mississippi State in the Battle for the Golden Egg on Thanksgiving Day.

Posted: Nov 19, 2018 5:46 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2018 5:52 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Ole Miss Football Head Coach Matt Luke met with the media Monday to recap the Vanderbilt game and look ahead to the Rebels' final game of the season, a matchup with Mississippi State in the Battle for the Golden Egg on Thanksgiving Day (6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN). The full transcript can be found below.

Opening statement…
"Bouncing back from a tough loss Saturday, you really don't have a choice. You have a short week to prepare for Mississippi State, a huge rivalry game. It will be a huge game for these seniors, one last home game. Last game in Vaught-Hemingway and our last game together. It will be a huge night and big challenge on a short week against a very good football team."

Injury updates…
"Sean Rawlings is day-to-day, he has an ankle sprain, he won't practice this week, but we'll give it a go in the game. He'll be a game time decision. I would say that Scottie (Phillips) and Braylon (Sanders) are probable. They will be limited some, and (DaMarkus) Lodge same thing. They will all have a chance to play in the game. Sean is the furthest away just because it's a pretty bad ankle sprain, but knowing Sean he'll be out there and have an opportunity to play."

On communication with the SEC on A.J. Brown's overturned touchdown…
"The biggest thing is, we feel like he scored. I felt like he scored. They didn't. Again it's a short week we've got to put that behind us. It's not going to change anything, we've got to move forward to Mississippi State. We felt like he scored, they stuck by their rule. We have to move forward to Mississippi State."

On the red zone offense…
"It's a different defense so not the same as last year, but again we've got a lot of confidence in our offense and moving the football. But when we get in the red zone, we've got to make plays. It's no different watching the tape, a few drops here and there, we have opportunities to make plays and they are there to be made. The good news is you're getting down there a bunch with opportunities to score and this game we've got to go finish the fourth quarter. There's no better time to do that than the Egg Bowl."

On the senior class…
"For me, all the stuff we've been through together, it's a really special class. Every one of these seniors had an opportunity to go somewhere, to transfer, but they chose to stay here and do this together knowing they weren't going to a bowl game. It's been very impressive with their fight. They fight for each other, they fight for Ole Miss, and everything that they've given, how hard they play through injuries, doing all they've done to keep this thing going. I'm grateful for these guys and what they mean to not only me personally, but also this program."

On Mississippi State on both sides of the ball…
"Very veteran defense, their stats speak for themselves. They're very good up front. They have length at corner and have experienced safeties so very hard to run against. Their length at corner has helped them out. Obviously with their ability to rush the passer, we won't have long to throw it. We'll have a challenge, it'll be hard to run the ball up against we have to find a way to make some big plays. We have to run the ball well enough to create some 1-on-1 matchups and then take advantage of those. Offensively, they do a good job or running the football we're going to have to find a way to make them throw it to beat us and that will be our game plan."

On Mississippi State's run defense…
"They're an SEC defensive line, they're a veteran defensive line. They have a bunch of older guys who have been in there and played. They're very good at getting off blocks. They do a good job of bringing pressure, a lot of 5-man pressure and constantly putting pressure on you. We have to do a really good job of handling the pressure and then applying some pressure of our own. If they're going to pressure, we'll bring some on the outside where they have to cover."

On Jordan Sims stepping in on Saturday…
"We're fortunate to have a guy like Jordan (Sims) that can come in there and play any number of positions. He did fine. To have a veteran and a senior that's been in the games and done it, he's won a bunch of big games before and played in a bunch of big games so it's not like you have somebody coming off the bench that hasn't done it. He's very experienced and can handle it. I think Sean (Rawlings) will be ready to go, but Jordan will definitely have to play some."

On the importance of the Egg Bowl rivalry…
"It's huge for the people of Mississippi. It always has been. It's a game that means so much to so many people. This year is no different. It's 365 days of bragging rights. It's always been important in my family ever since I can remember. This is not my second Egg Bowl, it's my 42nd. It's always something that means a lot and it is very important for this senior class to go out on a winning note in this game."

On the buzz around this Egg Bowl…
"It's not lacking a buzz to me or these seniors. These guys have given a lot. With it being the Egg Bowl, that's huge, but being their last game and senior night, it adds another level to it."

On the short week…
"It's tough. You come back, we got home at 4 a.m. The guys have to recover. The good thing is the guys are out of class. We spent a little more time in the film room and giving them a chance to recover. You're not doing a lot against each other, it's a lot of film work, recovery and walkthroughs."

On the rivalry and the NCAA investigation…
"This is a special rivalry. What makes it special is the passion of both fan bases. We don't have a pro team in Mississippi. People have a lot of pride in their schools. That's what makes it special. Ole Miss people love Ole Miss. They want to win. That's the unique part of this rivalry. Mississippi is a great football state. Per capita, it is always one of the best football states in America. It's something that is really special to a lot of people. It speaks to the passion of both fan bases."

On the head coaches toning down the rhetoric around the rivalry…
"It doesn't take away from the importance. You can handle things the right way and it still be an important game. You can do things the right way and it still mean a lot to you. Everybody knows what this game means to me, but you can still handle it the right way."

On Isaiah Woullard…
"He's a great example of a young man from Mississippi that it means a lot to him. That's what you want your team filled with, young men like Isaiah. He's a hard worker, tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar guy. He doesn't say anything. He just shows up and goes to work. Really proud of him and the opportunity he had and of him taking advantage of the opportunity."

On addressing the juniors who are NFL draft prospects…
"We'll talk about that after the game. Just want all of those guys to play really well and focus on that game. We'll cross that after."

On Nick Fitzgerald…
"He's the leading rusher in SEC history for a quarterback, so that kind of speaks for itself. We're going to have to do a great job of taking him out of his comfort zone and making him earn ever yard, not giving him easy yards but making him earn every yard he gets, trying to make it uncomfortable for him. We want to make him throw it over the top to beat us—not easy throws but throws he has to work to complete. We have to do a great job of stopping the run and making them throw it to beat us."

On the redshirt situation…
"The first priority will be to win the game. With Matt Corral having a game left over, it's obviously a little easier to play him in this game. He's probably the biggest one everyone would be talking about. If Jordan goes down, Matt can come in without having to worry about wasting a year. But the priority is on winning the game, not playing somebody in their fourth game."

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