Ole Miss has struggled through its SEC schedule and still has a bowl ban in place this season, but coach Matt Luke thinks the Rebels are on the rise.

During Wednesday’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Luke said Ole Miss is “ahead of schedule” in terms of rebuilding the program following NCAA sanctions for recruiting violations under former coaches. The NCAA overturned those penalties last week, and Luke believes his team is attractive to recruits.

Luke also explained what challenges the Rebels (5-4, 1-4 SEC) will face against Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3) on Saturday. You can read his full comments below.

On the biggest challenge of facing A&M’s offense:

  • The mix of run and pass. The use of the tight end, too. They run play-action; they run the offense through the running game first, and it opens up their offense.

On the challenge of facing their defense:

  • We have to maintain balance; their defense is too good for that. We have to get our play-action going.

On QB Jordan Ta’amu’s development

  • He’s grown and developed. We ask a lot of our quarterbacks in the RPO game, and he handles that really well.

How is the progress of your program?

  • I think it’s great. We had some great news with the recruiting restrictions removed. We can sell playing on defense right away, and our offense is something players want to play in. I believe we are ahead of the schedule.

On the early signing period, does it change anything for you?

  • It’s huge. We will start immediately after the Egg Bowl, we will meet and get at it. We are down 12 scholarships, but we will be back to full strength this offseason. It’s exciting.

On WR DeMarkus Lodge:

  • His attitude from his freshman year to now, he’s very unselfish. He is the most complete wide receiver we have. We have 15 days left, and we are looking for him to finish strong. His off-the-field-stuff, he has grown so much.