Nick’s Notes: Rebels discuss win over Louisville and turn attention to home opener vs. Austin Peay
OXFORD, Miss. — This Saturday, Ole Miss plays its home opener against the Austin Peay Governors. From player interviews, it’s clear the Rebels are excited to have the opportunity to play in front of their home crowd with no capacity restrictions.
After watching the opening portion of practice — stretching and agility drills — media met with head coach Lane Kiffin via Zoom, as he’s still quarantined after testing positive for COVID, and in person with defensive back Deantre Prince, center Orlando Umana, and wide receiver Dontario Drummond.
Following Monday night’s win over Louisville, the team has a short week to prepare for the contest versus Austin Peay. “It’s an unusual week, having to put three days into one, we’re only going to practice once this week,” Kiffin said after practice Wednesday.
On Saturday, Lane Kiffin will make his first Walk of Champions, and he urged fans to come support the team not only in the Grove but also in the Vaught.
“Good to play at home, hope our crowd comes out,” Kiffin began.
“Hope people don’t sit at home and say ‘well we’ll just wait for SEC games’ Having a crowd is impactful to our players and for their performance. It’s impactful for recruits when they come into the stadium. Really urge fans to come out. We need people to come out. 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.”
SEC Co-Freshman of the Week: Caden Costa
Monday night in Atlanta the Rebels discovered a weapon — not a weapon of the passing, running, tackling variety but rather one with a very impressive leg.
True freshman Caden Costa made his college debut vs. Louisville, where he was perfect. The Mandeville, Louisiana native was 3-for-3 on field goals with a long of 47 yards and 4-for-4 on extra points.
Caden Costa from 47 yards out. Welcome to College Football young fella! pic.twitter.com/UHv7T1CxbY
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) September 7, 2021
Coach Kiffin was asked on his thoughts on his SEC Week One Co-Freshman of the week. ”That was awesome,” he said. “It was great to see him go in and perform like he did. You never know with true freshmen what’s going to happen.”
Areas for improvement
Although the Rebels notched a big win and looked very dominating, there are some areas in which the team can improve, namely penalties and finishing strong.
Ole Miss will look to clean up its game against Austin Peay after committing 14 penalties for 125 yards against Louisville.
In Monday night’s game, the defense made a statement, coming out strong and shutting out the Cardinals in the first half, 26-0. However, the Rebs gave up 23 second-half points.
“Penalties, way too many penalties,” Coach Kiffin replied when asked what the Rebels need to work on. “Crucial penalties. That cost us a lot of yards and points. Defensively, (we need) to finish the game better,” he added.
Kiffin later elaborated on the defense’s second half let-up, “Unfortunately that happens sometimes,” he said. “We self-inflicted on two fourth downs where we weren’t aligned right and they scored TDs. Good thing is we did limit explosive plays even in the second half.”
Defensive back Deantre Prince
Defensive back Deantre Prince spoke with media after Wednesday’s practice. He recorded an interception of Malik Cunningham in the win Monday.
Deantre Prince with the big INT pic.twitter.com/8zqo93pWpk
— TJOxley1 (@TJOxley1) September 7, 2021
“It felt good, going through everything I went through my first year here. I felt like I accomplished a lot getting to this point.”
The performance against the Cardinals gives the Rebs added confidence going into Saturday’s game.
“It was a big confidence booster. We worked hard for it. The first half we were hungry. The second half we were probably a little too relaxed. We worked on that today, making sure we don’t do that any other games.”
Center Orlando Umana
Transfer center Orlando Umana also spoke with media after practice. Prior to coming to coming to Ole Miss, Umana played at University of Utah, where the offense is not known for the high tempo style of play like that of the Rebels.
Orlando Umana said the Rebels' offensive performance was, to him, a 7 out of 10 against Louisville. When asked what a 10 out of 10 would look like, the center replied, "…less penalties, more points." #HottyToddy
— The Rebel Walk (@TheRebelWalk) September 8, 2021
Umana was asked how it felt being on a new team and what he thinks of the high tempo offense. “Just ready to go to war with a new team,” he said. “I know they have my back and I have theirs. I’m excited. Feels like we were prepared. The first drive was a little long, but after that it was all good.”
Wide receiver Dontario Drummond
Wide receiver Dontario Drummond also visited with media Wednesday. He’s fresh off a stellar game vs. Louisville where he finished with 9 catches for 177 yards and one touchdown.
“I kind of surprised myself,” he said. “I didn’t know I was going to get that many targets. Every chance I got, I made a play.”
Corral to Drummond for 34 yards. Also DONTARIO Hurdle pic.twitter.com/UYRQPWzBg2
— TJOxley1 (@TJOxley1) September 7, 2021
When putting up stats like Drummond did, it certainly builds trust with his quarterback. Drummond talked about the chemistry he and Matt Corral share. “I make plays at practice so that puts trust in him that I will make plays in the game for him.”
That’s it for Wednesday’s edition of Nick’s Notes. I’ll be in the press box Saturday and will bring you all the info on Ole Miss vs. Austin Peay.
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy; Graphic: Nick Filipich, Rebel Walk)