Of all the teams in the Southeastern Conference, there’s a chance Ole Miss takes the field with the youngest overall group this season. While that can often be a bad sign for some teams, Matt Luke is counting on it bringing out the best in his players when it comes to camp battles that are set to begin in Oxford.

During his first media availability of fall camp, Luke was asked to share his thoughts on the position groups that are currently viewed as the tightest competitions heading into camp. Without hesitation, Luke identified two groups, both on the offensive side of the ball, that stood out to him entering fall camp.

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“The young spots; particularly the offensive line and wide receivers, where we have had to sign so many young guys. Guys are hungry and they want to come in and prove themselves. I’m excited to see that. You don’t ever want to see that lack of experience but you are excited to see the competition and see them push themselves for playing time. So, I’m excited to see those two battles, for sure.”

The depth on his offensive line took an unexpected hit last week as senior right tackle Alex Givens was sidelined due to a minor back surgery. While the Rebels are holding out hope that Givens can return in time for the season opener, they now must prepare as if Givens won’t be able to play.

“Alex (Givens) had a lower back injury in late June,” Luke continued. “We looked at a bunch of different options and we went ahead and had the surgery. That was the quickest way to get him back. We are still hopeful he can play against Memphis. He’ll be limited some through camp but then we’ll be able to start running and getting him back the week of the game.”

Luke admits that getting young linemen ready for the rigors of SEC football isn’t easy, but that’s the task at hand for the head coach and former offensive line coach entering fall camp in Oxford.

“It’s tough. It’s probably the hardest position because of the guys we’re playing against, but also how much stuff happens in front of you very quickly,” Luke said. “I think both of those young men (Broeker and James) are very smart and they can handle it. It’s just going out there, doing it, and building that confidence.”