Luke and the Rebels Look to Keep Focus Against Salukis

The home opener is three days away and the Rebels are looking forward to putting on another aerial attack for the Vaught-Hemingway faithful against the Southern Illinois Salukis.

Although the Salukis are an FCS team, Ole Miss is not looking past this weekend.

“They got six turnovers in the last game, three for touchdowns,” head coach Matt Luke said. “Offensively they do a good job on mixing personnel. They’re a smash mouth team and they’ll take their deep shots.”

A 20-point win over a solid team the week before would put some teams in a complacent mindset, but the Rebels are approaching this game with the same mentality as any other.

“I think what we have really focused on is us getting better and having a standard,” Luke said. “We didn’t play our best football week one and if we can find a way to get better at all the little things… there’s plenty for us to get better at and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

While the mentality may be the same, the preparation for the Salukis offense is the polar opposite to the Red Raiders.

“It’s totally different,” Luke said. “You’re going from spread to seeing some three tight end sets. It will definitely be a challenge for us to stop the run, and they’re really good at mixing in deep shots off that.”

Another Weapon for the Offense

Braylon Sanders proved he was ready to take his place in the N.W.O. (Nasty Wideouts) against Texas Tech when he reeled in four catches for 60 yards, including a highlight reel sideline grab.

“Coach Peeler had confidence in me to put me in that situation and I just made plays when my number was called,” Sanders said.

Sanders talked about D.K. Metcalf and Damarkus Lodge helping him in the offseason with techniques to improve as a part of one of the best receiving units in the country.

“The way he stepped in last week, it just shows the maturation process and how he’s gotten better and better,” Luke said.

From the Trenches

Allowing only two sacks against Texas Tech, the Ole Miss offensive line gave the Rebels an ample amount of protection to rack up 548 yards of total offense.

“We did really well as a unit,” right tackle Alex Givens said. “We have things to work on like every week but we played really physical, smart. I’m excited to get out there this week against a four-down defense. Play a little bit more physical, should be a fun week.”

Givens landed a spot on Pro Football Focus’s SEC team of the week after a stellar performance against the Red Raiders.

“You look at the film and you never do as good as you think and you never do as bad as you think,” Givens said.

Givens came out against Texas Tech and clarified what happened during the play.

“I was kinda driving someone into the ground and someone came in and hit me on the side of the head,” Givens said. “Shook me up a little bit but I’m good now. Excited to be back out there.”


Damarkus Lodge did not practice today but is hopeful to be back on the field tomorrow.

Luke said that Lodge is further along than Kevontae’ Ruggs in his recovery.