Matt Luke addressed the media at his weekly Monday press conference and addressed the health of his roster, the quarterback situation and what he expects to see from Vanderbilt this week.
— Ryder Anderson will miss 4-6 weeks with a meniscus injury that will require surgery. Anderson left Saturday’s loss to Alabama with what appeared to be a leg injury. He sprained his ankle in addition to injuring his meniscus.
— Freshman nose tackle Patrick Lucas Jr. will miss the remainder of the season with a torn achilles he suffered on Saturday. Lucas will redshirt as he has only played in two games this season, which is under the four-game threshold to be eligible for a redshirt.
— Luke provided little clarity on Ole Miss’ quarterback situation. He was not ready to deem Matt Corral healthy, citing that he would like to see the redshirt freshman quarterback throw in practice before making a declaration. Luke was asked if Corral will start on Saturday against Vandy if his bruised ribs are fully healed, and how Plumlee will be used if the former is the case.
“I think Plumlee did enough that you will see him regardless of what happens,” Luke said. “But you have to see Matt go out and do it before you make a decision.”
Offensive coordinator Rich Rodriguez was tight-lipped with regards to his quarterback situation, quipping that he will gladly tell you at 6:35 P.M. on Saturday evening, about five minutes after Ole Miss is slated to kickoff its game with the Commodores.
Though no one has made an official declaration, the sense is that Corral will start if healthy and there will be a package of plays for Plumlee to utilize his feet. The true freshman flashed remarkable quickness that jarred the Alabama defense in the loss on Saturday. Plumlee rushed 25 times for 109 yards and a score to lead. He led team in both categories, something Rodriguez noted was no coincidence given Plumlee’s mobility.
Rodriguez said he has played two quarterbacks at some point in every one of his previous coaching stops and that it is nothing new for him. He handles quarterbacks differently in terms of practice participation, dispersing equal reps among the first and second string guys.
“I have never really managed the quarterbacks any differently,” Rodriguez said. “I have always given all the guys a lot of reps.. Just about everywhere I have gone I have used two quarterbacks at some point. It would be a challenge if the first-team guy took six or seven reps and the second guy takes two or three. The way we practice, they take equal.”
Ole Miss would be unwise to balk on using Plumlee in some form regardless of Corral’s health. His running ability adds another dimension for opposing defenses to prepare for. Rodriguez’s unwillingness to disclose his general plans at the position is mostly to keep opposing teams guessing with regards to who will play and when.
“He obviously has some dynamic running skills so we ran him more than we did with Matt previously,” Rodriguez said. “I have to manage all three quarterbacks, see who is healthy and look at how Vanderbilt is going to play us. Beyond that, see you Saturday.”
Grant Tisdale entered the game on Saturday for the final drive, marched the offense 75 yards and threw a touchdown to Jadon Jackson. Luke said he liked what he saw from Tisdale throwing the football. It remains unclear how Tisdale factors into all of this.
“It makes you feel good that you have three good freshmen quarterbacks,” Luke said. “He made a great throw for a first down and then on the touchdown to Jadon. I was proud to see him take advantage of the reps once he got in there.”
— Mike MacIntyre discussed how the defense will replace Anderson, his struggling secondary and the increased playing time for younger players on the back end of the defense.
PHOTO CREDIT: Joshua McCoy — Ole Miss Athletics