NEW ORLEANS — The “Matt Luke Effect” has the Georgia offensive linemen energized and having fun on the football field again.
The former Ole Miss head coach has gone back to his roots as a position coach, leading the Bulldogs’ offensive line after Sam Pittman’s departure to become Arkansas’ head coach.
“The minute we found out about Sam, he was the first guy who came to my mind and wanted to visit with,” UGA head coach Kirby Smart said. “(Luke) has been a good friend of mine for a long time. I’ve got a lot of respect for what he does and how he does it.”
Georgia’s shuffled offensive line — the Bulldogs are missing three starters for the Sugar Bowl — is getting a crash course on the Baylor defense.
Sophomore Jamaree Salyer, who will start at right tackle, talked about the energy Luke is bringing to the field following Saturday’s practice.
“Coach Pittman is a little slow and methodical …. Coach Luke wants you to play fast and get it on the go,” Salyer said. “He’s a very high energy guy, a hard-nosed coach, he likes for us to get it right.
“He likes for us to move people, be physical and practice fast, and that’s what you want out of a coach.”
Sophomore Cade Mays, now at left tackle, said there are subtle differences in how Luke and Pittman teach the position.
“They are just different — they teach stuff different ways, they see the game a different way,” Mays said. “I’d say he’s very energetic. He’s one of the fat guys.
“We throw a deep ball and we complete it, and he’s running downfield celebrating with the wide receivers, so it’s just funny to see your line coach doing that.”
Georgia players and fans are hoping Luke will be celebrating after next Wednesday’s game in New Orleans, too.