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Rebels hold Media Day to kick off 2019 season

The Ole Miss football team reported for fall camp Thursday.

Posted: Aug 1, 2019 9:39 PM
Updated: Aug 1, 2019 10:06 PM

OXFORD, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – The Ole Miss football team reported for fall camp Thursday, marking the official start to the 2019 season.

The Rebels met with the media to preview this year. Additionally, head coach Matt Luke addressed the media in advance of fall camp.

The transcript for Luke's press conference can be found below.

Opening Statement:

“I appreciate everybody being here today and hope everyone had a good summer. All of our players reported back today. There’s a lot of excitement in this building and excitement to get started. We spoke a lot about it at SEC Media Days, but the ability to go back to 85 scholarships; the opportunity to compete to go to a bowl game in the postseason. What we’ve done with our staff in the offseason and how hard the guys have worked all summer … You can feel the energy in the building and the looks on the kid’s faces. There’s a lot of youth in here and there’s going to be a lot of competition. We’re really excited for this month of August to really build and mold this team. We’re ready to get started.”

On building confidence during fall camp:

“It will be big just from the experience standpoint, but I think it starts with us building an unselfish team; trying to be mentally and physically tough and being in great shape. That’s huge and is very important. Being in great shape and being a disciplined football team. We’re young and somewhat inexperienced, especially on offense, so I think that will be very important.

On injuries:

“Alex (Givens) had a lower back injury in late June. We looked at a bunch of different options and we went ahead and had the surgery. That was the quickest way to get him back. We are still hopeful he can play against Memphis. He’ll be limited some through camp but then we’ll be able to start running and getting him back the week of the game. As far as Darius (Thomas) goes, he has a heart condition. We’re going to reevaluate him in September, but he’ll be here among the 110 and we’re hopeful he’ll be able to play towards the end of the season. Alex Faniel has had a stomach issue over the last week and will be limited to start. Luke Knox has a hamstring problem, so he’ll be a little limited early on and then (Montrell) Custis just coming back from his knee injury, he’s not one hundred percent yet, but he’ll be out there, just mentally he’s got to turn the corner. I think by week two he’ll be full go. Jaylon Jones is fine.”

On who might step up to fill the offensive tackle position:

“It’s going to start with Bryce Matthews and Michael Howard. I’m very pleased with Michael’s summer. He put on twenty pounds, looks great, and he’s right in that 285 range, so we’re excited about that. You always have Royce (Newman). If a guard steps up, he’ll have the ability to move out. We have two young freshmen (Nick Broeker and Jeremy James) who I’m really excited about. You reserve judgment until out there in practice, but with how the numbers are and us signing so many young players, some of those guys will have to step in and provide depth. Nick has kind of separated himself with the conditioning stuff and his mentality, but Jeremy is a very talented kid who can play out there. Royce is the wild card. If we have another guard step up, he can always move out to tackle. Bryce (Matthews) and Michael (Howard) have been around, even though they haven’t played a ton they’ve been around a bunch, and I’m excited to see what they can do.”

On how you get the young freshmen lineman physically ready to play SEC football:

“It’s tough. It’s probably the hardest position because of the guys we’re playing against, but also how much stuff happens in front of you very quickly. I think both of those young men (Broeker and James) are very smart and they can handle it. It’s just going out there, doing it, and building that confidence.”

On the opener just being 30 days away:
“I’m excited. I’m thrilled. We have all these young guys, but we have bodies. It’ll be the first time being back at that 85 scholarship number. There’s going to be competition at every single position and that’s why those young guys came here; for that opportunity to play. We’ve had some success with guys playing as freshman, Laremy (Tunsil), Greg (Little) and Javon (Patterson) all played as freshman before. I think we can get those guys ready, it is a challenge especially in this league though.”

On gaining confidence in camp defensively:

“It’s important. They experienced some of that success in the spring and you started to see that confidence build, not only in themselves, but with Coach MacIntyre and what he brings to the table. I think it all works together and that’s what this month is for, to build that cohesive unit as a team. I did see that confidence start to build in the spring and into the summer, and I think it will continue to build.”

On having a quarterback room with all freshmen:

“Rich (Rodriguez) will tell you that they don’t have any bad habits. I think Matt (Corral) playing in those four games will be a big help. It’s a challenge, but they’ll all be competing against each other and Rich has done a good job in the past of getting those guys ready to play. I’m excited to see it when we put on the pads.”

On the leaders for this year’s team:

“When we made Austrian (Robinson) the Chucky Mullins Award winner, that made a statement. He is that blue collar, hard-nosed guy. When he stands up and talks, people listen. Matt Corral got thrown into that role because of his position, him stepping in there. You’ve seen him take that role over the summer. Alex Givens has been there. He’s been in the wars and he’s a leader for us.”

On position where it’ll be the tightest this fall in camp:

“The young spots; particularly the offensive line and wide receivers ... Guys are hungry and they want to come in and prove themselves. I’m excited to see the competition with those two battles.”

On the running back depth this year:

“This time last year, I used the word cautiously optimistic for Scottie (Phillips). You saw what he could do in the spring and you saw it during the season. Isaiah (Woullard) has really stepped up and you’ve got young kids in there, Snoop Conner and Jerrion Ealy, who can do so many things with their speed. We’ll have to find a way to get those guys on the field. There’s going to be a lot of different ways we can use those guys that will present issues to defenses.”

On Tylan Knight’s position:

“He can do a lot of different things. He can play running back, but he can also go out there and play receiver. We were able to utilize him some in the spring game especially. He’s a football player and was the 6A Player of the Year in Mississippi. He was the MVP of the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star game. He’ll continue to have a role and he’s got that competitive spirit that you’d like to see.”

On similarities between Ken Webster’s recovery to Jaylon Jones this year:

“It’s hard because every individual is different, like with (Montrell) Custis and Jaylon (Jones) you see that right now. You see Jaylon has worked really hard, great kid and is really intelligent. We’re excited to see him. Physically, he’s healthy. Just mentally, he’s got to get over that hump, making his first cut, defending his first deep ball, changes his direction at full speed for the first time. He’ll progress through fall camp.”

On the safety spots:

“There’s going to be a lot of competition there. I was very pleased with what I saw out of Jon Haynes coming in new from junior college. He’s physical and has what it takes. I really like the edition of moving Jalen Julius back there. A lot of teams are playing 11 personnel and running the slots on fades. That’s a tough matchup with a big safety and he can cover there. C.J. Miller, Vernon Dasher and Custis; they’ll all be battling it out.”

On matchup with Memphis’ high-powered offense:

“It’s a big game for us, especially with all the young players we have going into it. Memphis is a great football team. It’ll be a challenge. They give you a lot of different formations, a lot of different looks to try and get you out of gaps. We’ll have to be sound.”

On the play of freshmen on the defensive side with all the JUCO players:

“You always want to reserve your opinions with the freshman until we put on the pads. I think Sam Williams and Jon Haynes both showed flashes in the spring, and I’m interested to see what Lakia (Henry) can do once he gets out there. When you sign a JUCO player, you’re expecting him to come in there and contribute.”

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65436

Reported Deaths: 1848
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5487116
DeSoto352328
Madison238763
Harrison237835
Rankin222032
Jackson220142
Jones184258
Forrest172155
Washington158237
Lauderdale139090
Lee133232
Neshoba127891
Lamar118414
Bolivar116333
Oktibbeha109037
Lowndes103935
Warren100731
Scott98720
Panola98012
Sunflower96723
Copiah94128
Lafayette93714
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Pike87734
Holmes86348
Grenada83021
Yazoo80712
Pontotoc7918
Lincoln79041
Leake77925
Simpson77930
Wayne74921
Monroe74751
Coahoma69711
Tate69227
Marion63819
Marshall6389
Covington60713
Winston60415
Adams60225
Union56215
George5484
Newton53511
Pearl River52037
Attala51324
Walthall48919
Noxubee44411
Chickasaw44119
Tallahatchie40710
Calhoun4009
Claiborne39913
Smith39413
Prentiss3869
Alcorn3825
Clay38214
Jasper3819
Hancock36314
Tishomingo3505
Itawamba33710
Tippah32513
Clarke32425
Tunica3176
Montgomery3073
Yalobusha30710
Lawrence3067
Humphreys28211
Carroll25411
Quitman2401
Greene23111
Kemper22815
Jefferson Davis2266
Amite2206
Perry2207
Webster21612
Jefferson1946
Wilkinson19413
Sharkey1903
Stone1633
Benton1330
Choctaw1304
Franklin1162
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12486232
Mobile9420204
Montgomery6449148
Madison516130
Tuscaloosa405769
Baldwin338023
Unassigned319060
Shelby316432
Marshall306034
Lee258844
Morgan229517
Etowah204128
DeKalb174513
Calhoun167213
Elmore167238
Walker149864
Houston134812
Dallas130523
St. Clair128915
Russell12772
Limestone126113
Franklin123820
Cullman118912
Colbert114113
Lauderdale112315
Autauga105021
Escambia104416
Talladega96713
Jackson9244
Tallapoosa84179
Chambers83538
Dale80223
Blount7593
Butler75635
Chilton7456
Coffee7365
Covington71620
Pike6877
Lowndes56724
Barbour5655
Marion56224
Marengo53614
Clarke4949
Hale46426
Bullock45011
Winston44011
Perry4364
Wilcox41410
Bibb4134
Monroe4084
Randolph39410
Conecuh37810
Pickens3779
Sumter36018
Lawrence3321
Macon32013
Washington32012
Crenshaw3123
Choctaw27712
Cherokee2587
Greene24911
Henry2493
Geneva2480
Clay2375
Lamar2122
Fayette1835
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
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