Coming off of a big SEC road win at Kentucky last week, the Rebels look to continue their momentum as they approach the final three games of 2017.
Things haven’t exactly gone the Rebels’ way this season. Two weeks ago, Ole Miss suffered a gut-wrenching defeat, as Arkansas hit a game winning field goal with only seconds to go that gave the Hogs a 38-37 win at Vaught-Hemingway.
Earlier, head coach Matt Luke’s team lost three straight road games to Cal, Alabama and Auburn. After rebounding with a convincing win over Vanderbilt at home, the Rebels lost to LSU, followed by the defeat at home against the Razorbacks.
No quit in these Rebels
A lesser team would have quit long ago.
Their former head coach, Hugh Freeze, was forced to resign before the season began. They aren’t bowl eligible because of self-imposed sanctions stemming from a far-too-lengthy NCAA investigation. Their starting quarterback is out for the season with a knee injury, and the ruling by the Committee on Infractions could come any day now.
However, the team and head coach Matt Luke and his staff are not giving up so easily. Coach Luke gave a fiery speech last week before the Kentucky game, offering a glimpse into the man at the top and his passion for and commitment to his team.
Pretty emotional speech last week by coach Luke. pic.twitter.com/2gjqRl7log
— Yancy Porter (@YancyPorter) November 7, 2017
I can tell you one thing, it’s obvious Matt Luke has no intention of giving up on this Rebels team. Sure, Ole Miss is 4-5, but the Rebels are only a few plays away from 6-3.
When asked Wednesday after practice what the feeling is around the locker room, Luke replied:
“We’ve got 15 days days left, and we just want to take advantage of every day that we have promised.“
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
(Video credit: Jake Evans, The Rebel Walk)
Many people forget that the Rebels are among one of the youngest teams in the nation, so it is understandable they will have some growing pains. Just over 58 percent of players listed on the Ole Miss depth chart are underclassmen, the highest percentage in the SEC.
“Many people forget that D.K. (Metcalf) is a freshman; we’ve got a quarterback (Jordan Ta’amu) who has made two starts. Van Jefferson seems like the old guy, but he’s only a sophomore, and A.J. Brown too,” Luke said.
Though players like Jefferson and A.J. Brown compete like veterans, they’re only sophomores. And no matter how much of a man D.K. Metcalf appears, he is only a freshman. Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu–though he is a junior–only has two starts under his belt. And he replaced true sophomore Shea Patterson who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Of the 11 offensive starters, 7 are sophomores or younger. Same story with the defense, as 7 of the 11 starters are sophomores or younger. With that many young players on the field, it just takes a little time to build chemistry and gain experience.
That will come.
For now, the Rebels are 4-5 with 3 games to go–two of which are at home. The third is the Egg Bowl in Starkville, where anything can happen.
The last-second, come-from-behind win at Kentucky was huge and could be a sign Ole Miss’ second-wind is kicking in. Sit back and watch–as it’s very possible the Rebels will pick up at least a couple more wins and may even run the table before we call it a year.
(Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)