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Lane Kiffin encourages Ole Miss fans to be in The Vaught for home opener against Austin Peay

Lane Kiffin encourages Ole Miss fans to be in The Vaught for home opener against Austin Peay

OXFORD, Miss. — In Ole Miss’ season-opening win over Louisville Monday, the Rebels clicked in all facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. Now, Rebel fans get their opportunity to show out, too, by filling Vaught-Hemingway in Saturday’s upcoming 2021 home debut.

In Wednesday’s press conference, head coach Lane Kiffin encouraged all fans to be in attendance.

“I really hope our crowd comes out, I hope people don’t sit and say, ‘Well, we’ll just wait for an SEC game,’” Kiffin said.

Having a crowd is impactful to our players and for their performance. It’s impactful for recruits when they come into the stadium.

Lane Kiffin on fans coming to The Vaught

This is the first time since the 2019 season that Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be available to full capacity, but it’s not just the crowd in the stands Rebel players are looking forward to experiencing.

Definitely looking forward to the Walk of Champions. Haven’t done that — feel like in forever. Being back in that environment, our home, wouldn’t want anything more.” 

Ole Miss QB Matt Corral

The Walk of Champions will also be the initial one for Coach Kiffin since the tradition was suspended last season due to COVID-19. 

“I’m excited for the first walk that we’ve had through the Grove,” Kiffin said. “First time actually setting foot into the Grove, so I’m personally excited about that.” 

Yet an Ole Miss gameday is more than that.  

Sure, it is the Grove, but it is a young alumnus bringing their kids to campus for the first time. It is the view from the balcony at The Inn at Ole Miss. It is mingling in The Square in the afternoon before an evening kickoff. It is hearing the band strike up the fight song. It is the anticipation of which celebrity will deliver “Are you ready?” on the video board. 

Then there is the sheer explosion of the crowd seeing the Rebels touch the Chucky Mullins bust and head out on to the field. 

That spark gives the players an adrenaline rush that transfers onto the field. 

Last week, Ole Miss had to provide its own boost without its home crowd; although, the stands were filled with far more Rebels than Cardinals. The Rebels succeeded in motivating themselves as they rolled to a 26-0 halftime lead on their way to a 43-24 win. 

The victory was rewarded by the pollsters this week as Ole Miss checked in at number 20 in both the Associated Press and the Coaches’ polls. 

Getting in the polls is one thing, remaining there is another. Kiffin believes a packed stadium is a key to doing that. 

We need people to come out (to the game). Everyone wants a Top 25 program; well let’s put an atmosphere together like a Top 25 program so players feel that, and recruits see that as well.” 

Coach Lane Kiffin

Kickoff between Ole Miss and the Governors is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. 

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

About The Author

Steve Barnes

Steve Barnes joins The Rebel Walk staff as a senior writer and brings a trifecta of journalistic experience. As a writer, he has covered college sports for Rivals.com, Football.com and SaturdayDownSouth.com as well as served as a beat writer for various traditional newspapers. He has been a broadcaster for arena football and several national tournament events for the National Junior College Athletic Association as well as hosting various shows on radio. A former sports information director at Albany (Ga.) State University and an assistant at Troy and West Florida, he has helped host many NCAA conference, regional and national events, including serving five years on the media committee of the NCAA Division II World Series. Barnes, a native of Pensacola, Fla., attended Ole Miss in 1983-84, where his first journalism teacher was David Kellum. The duo has come a long way since that time. He will bring a proven journalistic track record, along with a knack for finding the out-of-the-ordinary story angles to The Rebel Walk. Barnes continues to reside in Pensacola a mere ten minutes from the beach because he does have taste and a brain.

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