Luke's Troops

Matt Luke’s troops are gearing up for another major battle in the trenches in Southeastern Conference football. The Auburn Tigers are coming to town.

Last weekend, Ole Miss (7-1 overall, 4-1 SEC) lost for the first time this season, a 10-7 setback at LSU. The defense did its usual job, holding the Tigers to 10 points, which is the points average Ole Miss has been allowing teams all season through eight games.

The Rebels now face another defensive foe that will give the Ole Miss offensive line fits as they try to hold out the Tiger defense and give Bo Wallace some time to execute. And to give the Rebel running game a chance to get going, which hasn't been easy all season.

The Rebels have been focused all week and are prepared for what they face Saturday night.

“Everything’s been good,” said the Rebels’ offensive line coach of the week’s preparation. “I think everybody had a little bit of a down period there for about 24 hours. It was a tough loss, a disappointing loss. But Sunday we put it in the trash and moved on.”

They had to. It was a game they certainly could have won to maintain the undefeated season. But they always trash a victory, too. So nothing new there. They just had to get over this one mentally and emotionally in a different way than they had the previous seven games.

“This league is tough. That’s the great part about this league,” Luke said, turning what some would perceive as a negative into a positive. “You play one good team and then you have to get ready to play another one.

“That’s what you try to tell the guys each game. You have to find a way to compete and win that game. That particular game.”

Auburn is the next one. The Tigers (6-1, 3-1) are third in the national playoff standings. The Rebels are fourth.

“Auburn provides a challenge for us,” Luke said. “Auburn’s defense is really good. They’ll be the most active defensive line that we’ve played. They’re really, really good inside. They’ve got a bunch of them and they can rotate them. They’re deep and they’re talented. They’re good at linebacker and DB too. They play really hard and they’re really, really good inside. So we have our work cut out for us.”

Luke said the Tiger defense comes at you relentlessly.

"When you watch tape, (opposing quarterbacks) are just throwing it fast on them because (the opponents) know they’ve got problems,” he said. “But (the Tigers) do a really good job, they come off the ball low and hard, and they’re really, really good. We’ve got a very tough challenge.”

More Matt Luke comments:

* On Ben Still: "Fortunately he’s played a bunch of snaps for us this year. So I think mentally he will be OK without the practice reps. He’ll know the plan, know what to do. So I feel comfortable with that. We’d love for him to be ready to go in case there’s an issue somewhere else. We could put him in and move Robert Conyers around a little bit. With Robert being able to play tackle and center, it was nice to be able to move him around. But Ben being out, Conyers is at center. It gives me a little less flexibility from that standpoint."

* On Laremy Tunsil: "He’s practiced and that’s been good and encouraging. He’s wearing a shoulder harness and I haven’t noticed anything. I’ve been encouraged he hasn’t missed a day. I’m sure it will bother him a little bit. But he’s excited and ready to go. Anytime you lose a guy like that, the offense kind of sputters a little bit. It did for two important series in the (LSU) game. We have some contingency plans just in case, and you always think about those things – to get the best five guys on the field to give you the best chance to win the game."

* On Daronte Bouldin: "He’s just young and that was the first time we put him in a tough situation cold off the bench in the third quarter (at LSU). That’s not an easy thing to do. He was put in a very, very difficult situation. But he responded well."

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