OXFORD, Miss. — Many Ole Miss fans looking at the 2018 football schedule prior to the season likely would have accepted a 3-2 record at this point—especially knowing that two of the first five games included Alabama and LSU. While the two losses (to the Tigers and the Tide) have been by large margins, the fact remains that the Rebels are 3-2 heading into a Homecoming game against Louisana-Monroe.
In Saturday’s game against the Warhawks, the Rebels will look to get off to a quick start, maintain consistency on both sides of the ball, and reduce the number of penalties.
Head coach Matt Luke addressed some of these areas in his weekly press conference. “You can’t have any inconsistencies, or they get magnified,” he said. “Sometimes, if you’re winning the game they don’t get magnified, but in big games they do. We have to make sure we stay consistent because that’s what you have to do. This is the best league in college football, and that’s what you sign up for and what you expect.”
Homecoming game offers perfect opportunity to get back on track
This is a very important game in the season for the Ole Miss football team as the Homecoming matchup provides an opportunity for fixing what ails the Rebs before they enter the gauntlet of remaining SEC games.
Coming in to the game, the Warhawks (2-3, 0-2 Sun Belt) bring an offense that is more than capable. Averaging just over 400 yards per game, ULM should offer a good litmus test to an Ole Miss defense that is struggling to find its footing against talented offenses.
The Warhawks’ highly-respected dual-threat QB, Caleb Evans, is one of the best quarterbacks in his conference and averages nearly 240 yards a game through the air. He is a talented runner who has already rushed for 264 yards this season. As they head deeper into the gauntlet of SEC play, the Rebels can use this test of facing a quality quarterback.
The Warhawks’ defense is giving up a massive 471.8 yards per game; this is a group that Jordan Ta’amu and company should be able to take advantage of and get into a rhythm against early.
Rebels are focused on reducing penalties
As mentioned earlier, Ole Miss needs to reduce its penalties to be successful the remainder of the season. Over the first five games of 2018, the Rebels averaged 9.8 penalties per game—some of which have cost them dearly.
Coach Luke addressed the infractions at his Monday press conference. “Obviously, you can’t have that many penalties and win games,” he said.
“That’s not us, that’s not who we are. You can look at each one of them and I have, over and over and over again and you can try to justify it but it’s too many to win games. We just have to make sure we keep working on the little things, and we will, and the kids will respond.”
Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke
Knowing that many fans are upset with the team’s performance thus far this season, Coach Luke also addressed the importance of having the fan base’s support.
“There’s a lot of people who have passion for Ole Miss Football, and I’m one of those people,” he said.
“We’re working really, really hard every single day to put a product on the field. It didn’t look the way we wanted it to look on Saturday, but we’re going to continue to work and all be pulling in the same direction. We’d love for everybody to show up on Saturday, and let’s keep working to get this program where we all want it to be.”
Ole Miss and ULM kick off at 3:00 p.m. (CT) on Saturday in Vaught Hemingway Stadium.The game will be televised on the SEC Network.