Josh Kendall

Ole Miss coach explains what makes USC assistant Dan Werner a ‘tremendous’ coach

Matt Luke’s playing career hadn’t been finished two seasons when he got his first job, coaching the offensive line at Murray State. The Racers offensive coordinator had been coaching for 17 years by then.

Despite the difference in experience, the pair hit it off, and Luke and South Carolina quarterbacks coach Dan Werner remain good friends to this day. Luke, who is now Ole Miss’ head coach, was happy to talk about Werner on Tuesday when the Rebels made their appearance at SEC Media Days.

“Dan is a close friend of mine,” Luke said. “I was coming right out of playing and he was like, ‘Who the heck is this offensive line coach?’ But we hit it off really early.”

Luke and Werner coached one year together at Murray State before Werner went to Miami. They were reunited at Ole Miss in 2012, where Luke was again the offensive line coach and Werner was calling plays.

He’s got a unique approach, and I think the players enjoy being around him,” Luke said. “The thing that I am most impressed with him about is his ability to adapt. He’s run spread formation at Murray, the I formation at Miami, we were wide open with RPOs at Ole Miss, and he had a high school stop along the way where he was very successful. I think his ability to adapt to talent around him is what makes him special.”

Luke believes the Werner hiring will benefit South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley, a junior who has thrown for 4,214 yards, 27 touchdowns and 16 interceptions in 20 career starts.

“Just a tremendous person, a tremendous football coach,” Luke said. “He’s going to do a great job.”