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Ole Miss Monday Presser Notes: C.J. Moore is Latest Blow to Depleted Secondary

Following a disastrous 45-16 loss to LSU, Matt Luke addressed the loss at his weekly Monday press conference. The Rebels were penalized 17 times for 167 yards. That coupled with the inconsistent play on the field contributed to an ugly defeat.

“We didn’t have the consistency or the discipline that it takes to win on the road in this conference,” Luke said. “As a head coach, you have a vision of what you want your team to look like. When it doesn’t look like that, you look at yourself first. We are going to continue to work to get the problems fixed..”

Here are some news and notes from what was said.

Moore out with torn pectoral muscle:

Safety C.J. Moore is out for “at least a couple of weeks” after suffering a torn pectoral muscle in the loss in Baton Rouge, according to Luke. Moore could possibly miss more time and will be re-evaluated in the coming weeks. Defensive back-turned-running back Armani Linton will head back to his native home in the secondary to compensate for the loss of Moore. This secondary has already lost corner Jaylon Jones and star safety Montrell Custis for the season.

The loss of Moore is a significant one, especially if he misses more than a couple of weeks. He is one of the more consistent players on a defense that has struggled mightily this season.

“You don’t just replace a guy like C.J. Moore,” defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said. “He comes to work every day with the same attitude and puts the team first. He puts himself last and is a team-first guy. That’s the type of young man you search for in recruiting.”

McGriff made it sound like Linton’s services will be needed immediately, a tall ask for a guy who has spent the last six months learning a new position on an entirely different side of the football.

“The biggest thing is that he will certainly have to get ready to play this Saturday,” McGriff said. “The positive thing is that the he already has time on defense. The defense hasn’t changed much from last year. Knowledge-wise, he will be a plug and play guy.”

If you’re looking for some positive injury news: Luke noted that the team hopes to get defensive end Victor Evans back from injury this week.

Wide receivers healthy:

A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf appeared to suffer minor injuries in the loss to LSU. Metcalf got his foot caught under a diving defender on a deep ball and the injury in the moment appeared to be worse than it was.

“That had potential to be a really bad injury and it wasn’t,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “That had potential to be a really bad injury and it wasn’t.”

Brown and Metcalf are both fine and both returned to the game.

Offense struggling against good defenses:

The Ole Miss offense was ineffective again on Saturday night and put the defense on the field a lot. The Rebels have performed well against the the middle and bottom tier defenses in the Southeastern Conference, but have struggled against some of the best. Alabama and LSU this season are the latest examples of that. Ole Miss is averaged 462 yards per game in 2017 and are averaging 483 yards per game in five games this season. Against the Crimson Tide and Tigers this year, they tallied just 248 and 328 yards respectively.

“Our record against Alabama and this year’s LSU game are certainly not to the standard that we want,” Longo said. “Yes, I do think we need to do better and make more plays in one-on-one match ups. We need to help our receivers create some space and create separation so they can be the athletes that they are.”

Ole Miss had a number of drops and missed throws early in the game that prevented them from gaining momentum. The one constant was running back Scottie Phillips, who ran for 98 yards and a score on 16 touches. But as the Rebels got behind on the scoreboard, running the football became a time consuming task.

“We have things we have to address at every position,” Longo said. “Early in the game, we had three or four drops that affected drives and affected opportunities to score. I know the expectation between Coach Peeler and I and all of us is to make those catches. I don’t see that being a trend throughout the season.”

Random Note:

— It was announced the Ole Miss-Arkansas game in Little Rock will kickoff at 6:30 P.M.

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