Head Coach Matt Luke, Rebels Take the Stage at SEC Media Days
Tuesday morning, Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke, along with Matt Corral, Alex Givens, and MoMo Sanogo, took the stage in Hoover at SEC Media Days 2019.
Early Tuesday morning, head coach Matt Luke, QB Matt Corral, OL Alex Givens, and LB Momo Sanogo took the stage at SEC Media Days in Hoover to address the media as part of the week’s festivities. Luke and the players began the morning with stops on Radio Row and with local media before taking the main stage to address the national media.
Luke kicked off the Rebels’ portion of Media Day by visiting with the Ole Miss beat writers and reiterating his confidence in new coordinators Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre–and in the systems that they’ve brought to the program. The visual difference in the Rebels of last year and of this year will be clear, as the defense has moved into a 3-4 scheme, while the offense is replacing 8 starters from last season.
Matt Corral, the youngest player of all 14 SEC schools attending Media Days, noted the offense will be similar to last season, despite thoughts that OC Rodriguez would call a run-heavy scheme. The personnel will look different, but the offense will still be fast-paced and up-tempo.
It’s worth noting the tone of Coach Luke and company seemed altogether different today than it was last year at Media Days. Luke explained how not having the dark cloud of the NCAA investigation hovering over the program has made his approach to recruiting and the upcoming season much different than last.
He alluded to “the feeling of normalcy” of this upcoming season and the how the “energy and confidence level around our ability” is now in the forefront with no looming penalties from the NCAA.
Injuries: Luke told local media that all players who sat out of spring practice due to injury are good to go and are at full speed now.
QB Matt Corral: Corral is the only underclassman to attend SEC Media Days. “I think people gravitate to him,” Coach Luke said. “You know, as a player, when you have that guy that has that competitive fire and that competitive nature…players want to play for a guy like that. His work ethic…it made him an obvious choice.”
When asked if he still feels like a freshman, Corral responded, “I haven’t felt like a freshman since my freshman year of high school”. Corral was thrown into the fire in Hoover, but was confident and composed, something that should give fans confidence.
3-4 Defense: Luke noted the transition to a 3-4 defense has been “seamless” and well-received by the defense. “They’ve got a chip on their shoulder and are tired of hearing about how bad they are,” Coach Luke said. “It was very fun to see them buy into his (Coach MacIntyre’s) system and develop confidence this spring. I think you’ll see a much better defense when we take the field against Memphis.”
Junior LB Momo Sanogo said the new 3-4 scheme allows the defense to play more athletically and get more defenders in space to combat the speed of their opponents. The defense is returning 8 of 11 starters from last year–meaning the experience is there; now the communication and scheme must be mastered.
Recruiting: “I think anytime you can walk into a living room and not have that (NCAA) cloud hanging over your head, that’s a huge thing. I think you’re seeing an immediate impact on the recruiting trail because of that.” – Coach Luke
Rich Rod’s Offense: While replacing eight starters from last year, Ole Miss is also implementing a new offensive scheme. “You get a little bit more X’s and O’s with Rich Rod’s offense,” says Coach Luke. “The number one thing that comes to mind (in a Coach Rod offense) is that edge and that toughness, that swagger.”
This year, the Rebels have some fantastic running backs, including Scottie Phillips and Jerrion Ealy. They also have a plethora of WR talent, despite a lack of SEC experience. Rich Rod has an outstanding QB in Matt Corral who will thrive with the right offensive balance. Finally, Alex Givens and Ben Brown will be anchoring an offensive line that will see some new faces and more focus on the running game.