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TRANSCRIPT: Coach Kiffin meets with media

TRANSCRIPT: Coach Kiffin meets with media

,OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin visited with media on Wednesday via Zoom. He discussed a myriad of subjects, such as the team’s return to campus, developing relationships with players without benefit of spring practices, and the team’s recent unity walk.

Below is a transcript of Coach Kiffin courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics:

On if he has heard from players’ parents about Covid-19 concerns:

“We have not with the parents. It kind of surprised me. I thought we would a little bit. I’m assuming that they trust us and our medical staff. The plan put in place by the chancellor is very extensive about being around the building and the social distancing and everything. We have not had issues with parents with that.”

On developing relationships with players without spring practice:

“I talked to Elijah Moore Saturday after the unity walk, just brought him in here for an hour and just kind of went over some things for him. This situation is not ideal for a first-year staff, probably creating more issues than I thought. Spring ball, you really get to know your players. You’re on the field with them. You’re interacting with them and putting faces with names. They get to know you and how you can help them on the field. We missed all of that. Unfortunately, when we were in our meetings last Monday talking about all of the stuff going on nationally and just listening to the kids, I just realized how little I know our kids, especially as a head coach. Position coaches have had some meetings and gotten to know them, but we’re behind obviously football-wise, but we’re really behind relationship-wise.”

On his meetings with Elijah Moore and other players:

“I had met with some before we had left. A lot of times, when the coaches go out in the spring, and the head coach is off the road for years now, that’s a time you’re in here and you don’t have a lot to do, and you really get a chance to do that to do some more 1-on-1 or 1-on-3 type meetings. We really lost a lot of time being able to do that. Elijah I just picked out because I was walking with him. He had sent me a text that morning, just about how excited he was to get back and how we missed a lot of time relationship-wise and some players feeling that. It was good to talk to him. On the theme of listening, which has really been a theme here with all of the things going on, and this was just another example of that. One of the positive things that has come out of all of this, in all areas and we’re seeing it everywhere—even with Elijah sending the head coach that text. I really feel like it’s allowing people—in our situation players—but all around the country, it’s allowing people who feel like, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t say something,” and not just about these topics, just about my feelings in general, say, ‘Hey, it’s ok to do that.’ I thought that was kind of part of that, where maybe he wouldn’t have sent that text normally. With all of this stuff going on, it’s kind of made people think, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve wanted to say, but I haven’t said it,” now feel comfortable saying that.”

On what they were able to install before spring practice was canceled:

“We had done the install meetings in the little time that we’re allowed prior to spring ball but obviously had not done much on the field. There was no time where we were even allowed to have a ball with them. It’s one thing to know things mentally, but not be out there to know them physically. It’s very different.”

On players who had offseason surgery:

“That was difficult. Our training staff did a good job. A lot of that was just having to talk kids through rehabs through Zoom instead of physically being there. I’m sure some kids are a little set back because of that. I can’t give much information on them, because we’re not allowed to work with them yet or even get reports on them from our strength staff.”

On the potential addition of OTAs:

“I don’t think it’s going to be as much as OTAs—from reading the proposal that’s out there. What they’re discussing and what it looks like they may be headed to, it’s talking about activities with them, but it’s just weight training like normal and just to add a walkthrough an hour per day, but you can use a football. But a walkthrough is very different from a practice or an OTA day. It doesn’t look like, from what I’ve seen, that there’s going to be any more true practices than what there has always been.”

On the quarterback competition:

“It (time away due to Covid-19) certainly doesn’t help. We try to be positive, but you have to be factual also. That hurt us in evaluation. John Rhys Plumlee probably would’ve fallen behind, I assume, just off of baseball and the amount of time for us to evaluate and work with him and throwing the ball in the system. In that sense, it probably neutralized it in terms of those two (Plumlee and Corral) with no one having an advantage.”

On the players’ reactions to the COVID-19 testing and procedures:

“One good thing is, this has been going on for a while. It’s not like all of a sudden you have to social distance. People have been wearing masks and social distancing for months now. At least for me, it’s almost become the norm not to shake somebody’s hand and to stay away from people because we’re just used to it now. It probably hasn’t been as difficult as you would think. If they hadn’t been doing that and then all of a sudden they have to stay apart. Just like our walk the other day, everyone is standing apart. It is a little abnormal.”

On the unity walk:

“I think it was a great event, a great start of things around campus here and with the athletic department. Personally, I really liked the experience because you have to get comfortable being uncomfortable. That was a little bit different. Whenever you’re doing something you haven’t really done before—the walk itself and the chance there with the players—it was good. That’s what a lot of this is about: change. With change, a lot of the time it’s about getting comfortable with being uncomfortable to where it becomes the norm.”

On the feeling among players about Ole Miss’ commitment to change:

“I don’t think by any means are they satisfied. This is like opening day for baseball—162 games and this is the first game. They’re going to want to see change. They’re going to wait and see, was this just an act or something that was done for publicity or to check the box. Or are we going to really follow through on Keith Carter’s lead of what he talked about with this being the beginning.”

On if he will tone down the system because of the limited time:

“I definitely think so, and this is first-year staffs versus everybody else. If this was still going on while I was still at FAU, there would not be a whole lot of concerns with having to miss spring. With all the returning players and everything, I really wouldn’t be worried about it. People think, well, if you miss spring, how can a guy play if you’re a returning players? A lot of times you have 15-20 guys out in the spring for surgeries, then guys have a great years the next year and nobody remembers if they miss spring ball. But that’s because they were already there—they knew the system and had seasons playing in the system. This is much different with a first-year staff. There may have to be limits on the playbook.”

On difficulty recruiting during this time:

“This has been very difficult, not difficult to recruit the kids. I think we’ve done a good job of that. A lot of zoom. A lot of communication. A lot of new ideas that we’ve come up with—at the forefront of different thoughts like virtual recruiting where it’s like they’re on the road. The issue is the evaluation. The issue is you’re taking kids you’ve never seen. We haven’t seen a lot of them in person. By now we would’ve seen them in spring practice. We’d be going into our camps right now, getting to know them as a person and see how the preform, how tough they are, all those things. We watch recruiting film every day and say, ‘I don’t know. How do I decide on this?’ Because this is a tweener guy that we’d normally say this is a camp guy, meaning we really like him, but we don’t want to go all in until we see him in camp. Now we have none of that. It’s a big guessing game. Wait and see how hard it’d be if they shut down the fall and said we aren’t going to do on-campus visits and aren’t going to let you off campus to go watch games. Now we’re going to sign kids that we’ve never met. You’d never want to do that in your own business.”

On if he thinks there will be changes to the December signing period:

“I don’t know that. I don’t think anybody knows that until we figure out what’s going to happen. Nobody can predict what will happen with the coronavirus. We’ve mentioned, hopefully they give us more evaluation time where we can put more coaches on the road on Fridays during the season.”

On how confident he is if the season will start on time:

“I don’t know how confident I am. That changes kind of weekly to me. I sometimes think, ‘Oh, it’s going to be fine.’ Because our kids are coming back here and starting to work out. There are other times I say, ‘I don’t know how we’re going to play with this still going on.’ You’re going to go into weeks where all of a sudden that team is down 15 players and eight defensive backs because corona got into the DB room. Now you have no idea who’s going to be play that week. You might have to sit everyone in that DB room for two weeks. How do you play?’”

On if he anticipates all the newcomers being eligible to play:

“I do, yes.”

On if he’ll be involved with dealing with positive tests:

“That’s all medical. We just get told what to do on those areas. The chancellor has set out a plan that Shannon has implemented here with us. We just follow whatever they tell us.”

About The Author

Evelyn Van Pelt

Evelyn has covered sports for over two decades, beginning her journalism career as a sports writer for a newspaper in Austin, Texas. She attended Texas A&M and majored in English. Evelyn's love for Ole Miss began when her daughter Katie attended the university on a volleyball scholarship--and continued as she watched Katie receive three degrees from Ole Miss, culminating with her Pharm D. in 2012. Evelyn, a member of the FWAA, USBWA and the NCBWA, has covered Rebel sports for numerous outlets. In addition to working for The Rebel Walk, Evelyn is a sports writer for a newspaper in Texas.

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