Post Game Presser: Everything Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin to Say After the Rebels’ Loss
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — After the Rebels lost to No. 1 Alabama, 42-21, Saturday in Tuscaloosa, head coach Lane Kiffin spoke with media. Here’s a transcript of everything the Ole Miss coach had to say.
Coach Kiffin’s Opening Statement
Credit to Alabama first off. Players, coaching staff. There’s a reason they’re the No. 1 team in the country. Coming in here and playing in front of 100,000 people, we said it all week that you have to do everything right and obviously we didn’t do that.
We had chances to get off the field. We had Bryce sacked a couple of times and let him out. And then not making fourth downs and not finishing that first drive but then multiple drives on fourth down.
I’m sure I got killed on going for it on fourth down. That’s analytics. We believe in our players. It doesn’t work all the time. When it doesn’t work and you follow the book, it doesn’t look good. But also that’s why it’s analytics and not just doing whatever you want to do. You can have a punt blocked or give up a punt return for a net of absolutely nothing.
It’s disappointing. But it’s one game. It never defines a season. That’s a great team. We struggled with them on offense obviously, especially up front. I guess (Alabama defensive end Will Anderson) has another year but he should go be the No. 1 pick in the draft.
What did the Alabama defense do to put so much pressure on Matt Corral and the offensive line?
They played a lot of odd-tight with 4-Is. That’s hard up front when you do that. I tell it how it is. Good and bad, we got dominated up front. That ain’t hard to see. I’m sure you saw that watching.
Matt didn’t have very much time. We had negative runs. Guys in the backfield. That’s not us doing a very good job. Credit to a really good defense led by (Anderson) and then (linebacker Henry To’o To’o) made plays.
I thought about it toward the end of the game, coach Saban said a year ago he felt like afterwards it was like every call was the right call we had. I felt like that today for them defensively. We go speed option on fourth down and (To’o To’o) makes a great play and catches Ealy and Ealy tries to cut back for some reason. Credit them for showing up and making a lot of plays.
What did Alabama running back Brian Robinson do to be so effective?
Brian’s a good player. I remember him playing right here in high school in Tuscaloosa when I was there. They ran him a lot to their left side. That left tackle might be the first pick in the draft since (Anderson) can’t come out because he’s huge. They ran behind him a lot. The guy is a dominant player and Brian did a really good job.
We actually finally stopped him there in the fourth quarter twice.
How far away are your offensive and defensive lines from being more competitive in this type of game?
I think that’s always an issue with Alabama. They sign the best players everywhere in the county but they always sign the best in the front. You’re going to have to do unique things, no different than when Ole Miss beat Alabama. They had Nkemdiche and moved the front and made a lot of plays.
It’s always going to be a little of an uphill battle that way. That’s how it is. You have to scheme around.
On the fourth downs in your own territory, did playing against Alabama influence your decision?
No, that’s actually the opposite. If anything, 100% you go for it and that’s the other way. A lot of people don’t do it because that’s like scared money. At the blackjack table with $5 it’s easy. Put a couple of thousand out there and you get scared.
I said we weren’t going to do that. We were going to trust the analytics and not get scared because we’re in Alabama and not have confidence in our players and punt and then they can go score. They scored every possession but one in the first half. I know it looks bad when it doesn’t work. But you can punt it away and it just takes longer for them to score.
Are there adjustments that can be made to stop the run in the Rebels’ 3-2-6 defense?
Yeah. It’s going to probably sound crazy but you were there a year ago. They moved the ball a lot better a year ago, a lot faster. It just took them longer this year. We made them work to get the rushing yards even though it ended up being a lot.
Brian’s 4.8 yards a carry, that could’ve easily been a lot higher. I don’t think it’s a game where you say all of the sudden we have to change what we’re doing on defense.
That’s not really the storyline of the game. The storyline of the game is they did a great job on defense. Great players made great adjustments with the coaches. We didn’t.
What were your takeaways on Matt Corral’s performance?
It’s going to sound strange but I think Matt played alright. He threw no interceptions. Whatever he was completion, 22 of 30. We didn’t do a whole lot around him and we didn’t protect him. That’s hard when you don’t have a long time to throw. He actually moved around and got out of trouble and made some plays or it would’ve been worse. I thought Matt played well.
What’s the key to boosting morale after a loss like this?
Make sure we understand it’s only one game. There was a lot of hype and build up for the game. But one game does not define your season. It doesn’t define you, it molds you. You can go one way or another.
I think in a way it’s almost better when a game’s like this compared to last year when you’re sitting and thinking it’s one play and then we get a hangover and go play like we did against Arkansas. Hopefully this refocuses us and shows us how to do everything right.
Was your rushing output more of what you weren’t doing or what Alabama was doing defensively?
It’s a combination, but especially as you saw the game in the first half, there weren’t a lot of holes to run in. We had to try to be creative and come up with different things to get more space. If you don’t get the first downs going and get them tired, I’ve always said, we’ve seen the Alabama defense for a long time, and if you don’t get them tired they can shut anybody down. We didn’t do that.
I thought we were starting that way with the first drive but then we sputtered after that.
Do you have an update on Jonathan Mingo’s health?
I don’t. That was a late in the week thing. I feel down for the kid. He was in tears wanting to play in this game. He worked as hard as anybody. I felt bad for Matt losing him, he found out Thursday he wasn’t going to play. So we’ll see.
How much was the Alabama crowd a factor?
I’m sure it was. Once you put the headset on, we don’t hear that as coaches. But that’s why they call it home-field advantage with 100,000 people. I’m sure it affected the players somewhat. I didn’t feel like we had a lot of crowd noise issues where you saw a lot of false starts going on. But I’m sure it was an impact.
What was the difference not having wide receiver Jonathan Mingo?
When you lose a significant player late in the week it’s difficult because your game plan is already in play. It is what it is. I felt bad for Matt when it happened that he wasn’t going in with full strength weapons to this matchup.
But we’ve got to get better. Whoever plays plays.
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. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.