Ole Miss coach Matt Luke says his team would have been in position to win at California if not for problems of its own doing.
The Rebels committed 16 penalties for 113 negative yards in a 27-16 loss to the Pac 12’s Golden Bears.
Reducing penalties will be an emphasis for Luke and his staff during this week’s open date as the Rebels prepare for a Sept. 30 trip to No. 1 Alabama.
There were also three turnovers, interceptions thrown by quarterback Shea Patterson, the last one returned for 32 yards for a score to seal the win for Cal.
Luke may be able to improve his players’ discipline, but improving health will be trickier. He announced a laundry list of injuries involving key players at his regular Monday press conference. Luke didn’t rule out anyone, but among those questionable for Alabama are center Sean Rawlings and wide receiver A.J. Brown.
“Take away the penalties and the turnovers, and I really think you put yourself in position to win that ball game,” Luke said. “It’s up to me and the coaching to get the batter. The mistakes are correctable. We’re going to use the open date to get healthy and to get ourselves fixed.”
Ole Miss had at least two penalties in every quarter, and false start was called on the offensive line five times. The Rebels finished three flags shy of the school record of 19 penalties that has stood for 68 years.
Senior tackle Rod Taylor was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, and two players had more than one penalty.
The Rebels couldn’t seem to stop the flow during the game.
“It wasn’t like we were in disarray on the sideline. It was something that we addressed,” offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “It’s problematic when it reoccurs. It’s something we’re going to work on. I’ll be surprised if you see that same issue again.”
Injuries: Rawlings has a severe ankle sprain and is having surgery today with hopes of speeding his recovery.
Brown (MCL) is expected to be out for about two weeks. Defensive Victor Evans has a sprained MCL.
Kicker Gary Wunderlich (hamstring) had to leave the Cal game but should be available for Alabama.
Studying Haynes: Defensive end Marquise Haynes began the season just a handful of sacks and tackles for loss from setting career marks in both categories. He has two tackles for loss and half a sack through three games. Defensive coordinator Wesley McGriff said he and the staff will look closely at how they’re using Haynes this week as they try to free him up to make more big plays.
Turnover Margin: The three interceptions left Ole Miss minus-1 in turnover margin at Cal. The Rebels are minus-0.67 per game for the season. That ranks No. 89 nationally and ahead of only Missouri and Auburn – who share the No. 119 spot -- in the SEC.
Who: Ole Miss vs. Alabama
When: 8 p.m., Sept. 30
Where: Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Radio: 103.1 FM