Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke is hopeful the Rebels can take the positives from the second half of the loss to No. 12 Auburn last Saturday and use that momentum for four quarters against Vanderbilt.
After being down 35-3 at the half against the Tigers, the Rebels (2-3, 0-2 SEC) showed much more life in the second half, outscoring the Tigers 20-9. Patterson tossed two touchdown passes to D.K. Metcalf, and Jordan Wilkins scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.
Luke saw how efficient both the offense and defense were in the second half and watched his team’s energy level rise dramatically following the team’s first scoring drive in the second half. From here on out, energy and efficiency are what Luke wants to see out of his team, starting with the Commodores (3-3, 0-3) this Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m., SEC Network).
Second half gives Rebels a spark
“I really challenged them,” Luke said at halftime of the Auburn game. “I wanted to see a difference. I saw some young guys growing up. I saw Sean Rawlings and Shea Patterson come to the defensive huddle. When guys made tackles, I saw the sideline look like it’s supposed to look.
“It was probably the best half of football we’ve played since Texas A&M last year. I think they started to see what it can be. We’ve just got to build that.”
Matt Luke on Rebels’ performance in second half vs. Auburn
Returning to Vaught-Hemingway is a good way for the Rebels to get back on track. After beginning the season with two victories at home, Ole Miss hasn’t played in Oxford in a month.
The Rebels will be playing a Vandy team who is also struggling to get its first win in SEC play. The Commodores have been outscored 142-38 in their first three league games of the season.
As for Coach Luke and his team, they are happy to be home.
“We’re excited to get back in front of our fans. Coming back, walking through The Grove, playing in Vaught-Hemingway–I think our players are excited about that,” Luke said.
“We’re going to build on the second half of Auburn. That’s going to be the turning point of our season. We’re excited to get back home three weeks in a row. We’re looking forward to this challenge.”
Saturday marks the 92nd meeting between Ole Miss and Vanderbilt dating back to 1894. It is the third-most played series of all-time between the Rebels and their 2017 opponents (Mississippi State and LSU). Ole Miss leads the series 50-39-2 overall and is 23-6 in Oxford. The Rebels have also won three of the last four against the Commodores.