Matt Luke previews the challenge facing Ole Miss with the team's upcoming trip to Missouri
Ole Miss had its way with Vanderbilt on the ground Saturday night, as the Rebels piled up over 400 rushing yards against the Commodores on their way to a 31-6 win. Finding a way to match that total will be difficult against an improved Missouri defense but that’s the challenge Matt Luke and offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez face this week in Oxford.
The biggest x-factor for the Rebels’ success on the ground in recent weeks has been the emergence of true freshman quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who has gone over 100 rushing yards by himself in consecutive league games. While Plumlee has been a revelation for the offense, the Rebels passing game has been missing Matt Corral, who has been out since the end of the Cal game.
According to Matt Luke, there’s a good chance Corral is able to return to the field on Saturday when Ole Miss travels to Missouri.
“He’s continuing to get better. There might be a point this week where he’s back to 100 percent,” Luke said of Corral on Monday. “He could have gone out there and thrown some, but to say he could’ve gone out there and ran the offense, I don’t think that yet. As he gets to 100 percent we’re going to continue to look at him.”
The biggest question mark regarding Corral to this point is his ability to take a hit, without reinjuring himself. If Corral can’t manage to take hits for another week, the Ole Miss offense will be missing a key ingredient from the last few week’s attack. That’s a situation that will continue to be monitored in Oxford this week and the way Missouri is currently playing on defense suggests the Rebels cannot afford to be one-dimensional on the field.
After being asked to share his initial thoughts on Missouri’s team, Luke was quick to point out the damage being done by Barry Odom’s defense.
“This is a very good football team. Defensively, they are very fast especially up front. Their guys move around and cause problems,” Luke commented. “Offensively, they’re very physical. They have the best tight end we’ve played yet, he’s very good. They have a good quarterback, good running back and a physical offensive line plus we’re playing on the road in the Southeastern Conference, so it’ll be a huge challenge. Coach Odom has done a good job and his kids play really hard. It’ll be a tough challenge going on the road at Missouri, it’s the only stadium I haven’t played yet so looking forward to it.”
But it’s not just Missouri’s toughness that concerns Luke, it’s the speed the unit possesses on the field this season.
“They do an outstanding job of not staying in one place,” the Ole Miss coach concluded. “They’re constantly moving, stemming. They’re powerful and quick so again when you’re big, strong and fast that’s a good combination. They do a good job of moving around and creating problems for offensive lines.”