Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke stood before the media on Thursday afternoon with a wide grin on his face, excited to have all 85 of his players finally on campus at one time.
It’s finally time get on the field and prepare for the 2019 season.
“We’re very exited. You can feel the energy in the building and the looks on the kids’ faces,” Luke said. “There’s a lot of youth in here, a lot of competition, but we’re just really excited for this month of August to really build and mold this team.”
Luke said the main focus of the preseason camp will be getting into game shape and building discipline. A close second has to be maintaining the relative health of the squad while nursing the limited players back to 100%.
On this team, there are position groups that are young, and there are position groups that lack depth. The offensive line is a group that has both of those problems and the news of Alex Givens undergoing surgery on his lower back did not help.
The limitations of Alex Givens in camp as well as Darius Thomas, who won’t practice due to a heart condition, puts the offensive line in a peculiar position.
On one hand, the younger players behind them on the depth chart will get valuable reps. But on the other hand, the coaching staff is praying to get through camp unscathed by injury on the line should Givens be unable to play in a month.
Bryce Matthews and Micheal Howard will be expected to step up in August.
Luke also mentioned that tight end Alex Faniel and linebacker Luke Knox will be limited while Montrell Custis is still not full speed yet after an ACL tear early last season.
The Ole Miss coaching staff will have the task of preserving the integrity of the roster without sacrificing precious reps and preparation time since the another injury, especially on the offensive line, would put them in a bind.
“I think experience is the best teacher and the only way that you can go out there and get better is to go play and get thrown out there and that’s what’s going to happen to them pretty quickly,” Luke said. “That’s what this month is for is to build that cohesive unit. Not only offense, defense and special teams, but as a team everybody coming together.”