Matt Luke is counting days.
He isn’t counting because his year as interim coach is nearing the end but, he says, because he wants his players to understand there is more they can accomplish if they focus on the days at hand.
The Rebels are coming off a 37-34 win at Kentucky and will play their final non-conference game Saturday against Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is 11 a.m.
Luke remains a candidate for the full-time Ole Miss job. Who will be named coach is just one more uncertainty for a program that could possibly hear a decision from the NCAA’s committee on infractions this week.
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What is certain for Ole Miss, now 4-5 and 2-4 in the SEC, is that its season ends with its final regular season game on Nov. 23 at Mississippi State.
Luke started mentioning days Saturday evening, still wet from a Gatorade shower in Lexington. It was 19 days then.
“The biggest thing is we have 17 days left guaranteed together, and we’ve got to make the best of each one of those 17 days. We’re learning how to get better. We’re learning how to win. You keep putting yourself in position to win games, and you’re going to win your share.”
A long list of names have been floated as the potential next coach ranging from Mike Norvell at Memphis, Charlie Strong at South Florida, Mike MacIntyre at Colorado and many others.
How the Rebels close with ULL, Texas A&M and MSU will play a big part in determining Luke’s standing at the end.
It’s not easy for him to keep his thoughts from drifting past November and into the weeks that follow.
“You can’t let it. Obviously it’s been a dream of yours since you were a little kid, but you have to focus,” Luke said. “My dad always said, ‘You have to do the best job you can where you’re at, and things will take care of themselves.”
Injury Update: Starting right guard Alex Givens has entered concussion protocol, and backup guard Daronte Bouldin is done for the season after sustaining a broken foot at Kentucky.
Cornerback Jalen Julius has entered concussion protocol.
Defensive tackle Austrian Robinson (bruised lung) and running back Jordan Wilkins (ankle) are listed as day to day.
Behind Bouldin: It’s possible that Givens could be cleared from protocol in time to play Saturday. If so, he’ll likely serve as a backup behind Jordan Sims.
If Givens can’t go Sims, a junior, will play most of the snaps. The backups will be Jack DeFoor and Royce Newman, both redshirt freshmen.
Hall to face Ole Miss: The Louisiana-Lafayette offense is led by first-year coordinator Will Hall, the son of Biloxi coach Bobby Hall.
Will Hall played quarterback for his dad at Amory High School before starring at the University of North Alabama and becoming a successful head coach at West Alabama and West Georgia. He was a candidate for the Ole Miss wide receivers coach position last winter.
Who: Louisiana-Lafayette at Ole Miss
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 103.1 FM