OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss defeated Southeastern Louisiana, 40-29, Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway, and after the game, Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke met with the media and talked about his team’s win.
He began by explaining how much of a learning experience each and every game is for a team that has 70 freshmen and sophomores on its roster of 120 players.
“We’ve got a bunch of young guys in that locker room, and I think we learned a very valuable lesson,” Coach Luke began.
“Nothing in life is ever easy. I’m happy we got the win. We need to try to continue to build on the vision of this program. And that’s what I told our guys—every time they put on that uniform, it’s got to mean something to you when you walk on that field. We’ll get better. But again, any win is a good win. We just want to try to get better from it.”
Coach Matt Luke on the Rebels’ win over SLU
Jerrion Ealy’s big day
One of the stars on offense this weekend for Ole Miss was true freshman running back Jerrion Ealy.
Ealy broke the single game freshman all-purpose yards record with 273 yards in his stellar performance against the Lions. He eclipsed Dexter McCluster’s 268-yard performance as a freshman.
Ealy notched 172 yards on kickoff returns, including a 94-yard return for a touchdown. He also rushed the ball nine times for 95 yards and one touchdown. After that performance, it’ll be hard to find someone else in the league other than Ealy to give the SEC Freshman Player of the Week honor.
Coach Luke was obviously pleased with Ealy’s breakout game.
“I believe he set a record today, which is really good,” said Luke. “He’s a dynamic playmaker, and I think he will continue to get better. I thought Jerrion ended up being the difference in the game with the kick off return.”
The Rebels were able to limit the opponent to less than 70 yards rushing for the second consecutive week. However, the defense gave up over 300 yards through the air, which both Luke and defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre discussed at the postgame presser.
“You know what, again, nice job of stopping the run,” Coach Luke said when asked about the Landsharks defense. “They exposed us some in the pass game, and they do have some very, very good skill players. We knew we’d be tested there and we were. So, again, we’re going to get a lot of things corrected. There’s a lot of getting better to do in every phase — kicking, defense, offense. The whole deal. We’ve got a lot of getting better to do moving forward.”
Coach MacIntyre, too, talked about the defensive performance against the Lions.
“We’re going to try to stop the run, try to stop the run, try to load the box, try to stop the run and do that,” MacIntyre began. “And we will improve in the secondary as we go along; our pass rush will keep improving,” he continued.
“We had some big sacks there at the end, which I thought was good, but we’ll keep improving in that area. Especially in the league we play in, we better stop the run,” MacIntyre added.
Cal comes to town
Ole Miss has a huge opportunity to beat a nationally-ranked California team at home this upcoming weekend. In this week’s Associated Press Top 25, the Golden Bears are ranked at No. 23.
In his closing remarks after Saturday’s game, Coach Luke discussed the challenge of facing the PAC-12 North leaders.
“I think with the 11:00 o’clock kickoff, it’s certainly a challenge to get up and go play,” he began. “But we are playing at home and it’s gonna be a great atmosphere. It is a great opportunity for our fans. And we really feed off our fans. So I know Rebel Nation will show up. It’ll be a great atmosphere. And I really feel like the energy will be good. And I’m excited about that opportunity.”