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Everything Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin Said in His Monday Press Conference

Everything Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin Said in His Monday Press Conference

OXFORD, Miss. – (Release) Ole Miss football head coach Lane Kiffin met with the media Monday to recap his team’s win over Tulsa and preview the Rebels’ Southeastern Conference opener this weekend against Kentucky. A transcript can be found below:

Opening statement…
“Recapping the game, sometimes you watch the film and it’s a little bit different—or a lot a bit different—than you feel after the game. It really wasn’t. Felt that we did some really good things in the first half, especially offensively. Whether it was running or throwing or scoring at the end there in kind of a two-minute situation. Really did some things for the first time this year on defense that we hadn’t done—blown some coverages, misfit some runs. Like we tell them, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done before. You guys hear it all the time, every week is independent of the previous week, and every half is. I told them this morning, people want to compare scores—well you beat this team by this, that that team beat—it’s what you guys do, what sports fans do. Think, well, that game went that way and you played that opponent. Think how little that matters, because every game is different. The halves are different. You would’ve thought after watch the first half of that game there’s no way we’re not going to score in the second half. Like anything here, we try to take negatives and turn them into teaching lessons. That was a really good one. You cannot expect, just because you score 35 points and have a bunch of yards in the first half that the second half is going to go that way.”

On fan support…
“We utilize these situations to teach our players. We talked to them again, which we have before. Regardless of what you come out to before the game or halftime, when you come out and run out of the tunnel and it looks like a high school game playing in a college stadium, you can’t let that affect you. There’s psychology to that. There’s a home field advantage for a reason. When it goes the other way, you kind of have that feeling like, oh are we still really playing in a game here. The players have to fight that. We use that as a learning lesson for our guys. If that’s the case, that’s the case. I’m worried about what I can control. I’ve tried social media, in here for two years. We’ll worry about what we can control, and that’s getting our players ready to play.”

On the 2020 game vs. Kentucky…
“Not knowing much about our team at all because of the no spring and the Florida game, the feeling of hey, we’re going to struggle on defense. We’ve got some special pieces on offense, but how is that going to fit? Really going into the game, I couldn’t have told you what was going to happen. Just a wild game. Played really poorly on defense, I think 400 yards rushing. Made a good comeback on offense and finished the game off with the touchdown with Matt Corral to Elijah Moore. It was a wild game, one that could’ve gone either way.”

On the success of the UK and Ole Miss programs…
“I would’ve taken that. I normally say, hey, we have high expectations and always want to do better, but that’s a pretty good number, and I guess Mark might say the same thing, especially playing in the SEC. But again, every season is independent, every game is independent. We’ve got a lot of good pieces as we’ve seen. As frustrating as parts of the game were, it’s better to be frustrated that you see pieces where, at times we play really special on offense or defense or special teams. That’s the good part. We’ve all been around teams where you feel kind of helpless on one side of the ball, like it isn’t going to matter what we do, we’re going to struggle over there. That’s the good part of it. We have a chance to be really good, but a lot of things have to happen.”

On Jaxson Dart
“I like that we didn’t have the one disaster play. That’s growth because he had that in the previous games, where there’s one significant play that you want to take back—especially the two interceptions. That was really good to see. Managed the game well at the end, the situation to stay in bounds to end the game. Like I said before, we have such high standards and myself with that kind of position, I sometimes forget how young and inexperienced they are. Even this morning watching this Kentucky game from two years ago, that would be Matt’s second game with us. You know he’s played for a while, but with us it’s his second game. You see him make really good plays, but you see him miss some throws, miss some reads in the game, which didn’t happen as much last year. It’s a reminder that there’s a reason experience is important.”

On Zach Evans and Ulysses Bentley IV’s statuses…
“I would hope they go. That’s when we’re at our best, when all three are there. And there are some special teams roles involved with that position group that are important.”

On Michael Trigg
“Trigg has suffered statistically in the passing game by what’s happened. I don’t remember offhand, I wrote them last night. If you look at the last two games, run-to-pass ratio, we’re like Navy or something. When there aren’t a lot of balls going around, and a lot of it is quick game outside to the guys, there aren’t a lot of balls going to him. And we’re running the ball a lot. A lot of that has nothing to do with anything he has done or not done. We know that he has great ability to make plays. We’ve seen it. We’ve had scrimmages with him over 200 yards before. Like we’ve said before, you can’t predict games, then all of a sudden, after a few games you’re headed this direction. Then a game happens and somebody has a blow-up game with huge numbers. Hopefully that’ll be him.”

On Kentucky QB Will Levis…
“I study that a little more as the week goes on with Monday still just trying to get through the last game and get moving. I’ll be able to answer that better later on.”

On how long administrations give new coaches to establish a program…
“There’s one of those questions you know the answer to about administrations waiting that long. I call that a southern thing, when you ask questions you know the answer to just to confirm your answer. Administrations don’t wait very long nowadays. It’s the world we live in. When much is given and salaries are where they are, I’m sure that’s part of it and expecations. I’ve said before, there’s a Saban Factor. When someone comes in and turns something around and makes a run like that, then there’s the expectation that, well we should be doing that. Or places a little lower saying we should be close to that. It’s just changed. That’s why you see people getting fired after two years, which if you think about the old model, that really makes no sense. When you take over a program, someone said a term a while ago, it’s like turning around a freight train. It’s not like oh you just make a turn. You’ve got to do a lot of things. You’ve got 100 players, systems, employees, there’s a lot to be done. Now, can it be done quicker than it used to be because of the portal? Yeah. But still, it still takes time to do the other parts of it. You can add, because you have free agency now, just like the NFL, if you didn’t have free agency, it’d be harder to make a quick turnaround. People are really impatient, and I get it. People are paying millions of dollars to not wait a couple of weeks to fire a coach.”

On how Dart won the starting job…
“He continued to improve. Got out of some bad habits, which is nothing to do with where he was before. He’s a young quarterback and not that far removed from playing in high school. His growth in the last few weeks has been more than all his time here by far. That’s been really good to see. You see him playing a lot faster and dropping with speed and getting rid of the ball. Rarely gets sacked.”

On playing a Top 10 team this weekend…
“We just play whoever is on the schedule. Especially early in the year, we’ve got a lot to still work out. We had a lot of guys miss last week injury-wise who hopefully will be back this week. And we’re still figuring things out with a lot of new players, new coaches. We’re a work in progress. My hope is we continue to improve, maybe more than some other teams, because we didn’t have many returners and we have so many new people, so hopefully you improve throughout the year more than you normally would.”

On relying on player leadership…
“I don’t know that it was as much the heat. They have to play in the same heat. I think it was, when we look at it, guys losing focus and missing assignments and making poor decisions. Always in football, some breaks go your way when you’re doing well, like the first half. That could’ve been different too—the ball that gets reviewed out of Jaxson’s hands—it’s one second away from being a fumble and a big turnaround of momentum. Then in the second half, there’s some that go the other way. We make a fourth down and Mingo’s penalty, which is highly questionable, totally changes part of it. We false start on a fourth down that we were going to go for that it looked like we were going to make, so we had to punt. There’s a lot of things that go into it. It was the same heat that was in the first half.”

On Keidron Smith and Jacquez Jones…
“Both really great kids. It was awesome to be around them. Really good program guys. It’s like I said, it’s more like professional sports now with free agency where you go play people that used to play on your team, which didn’t used to happen very much in college football. Glad they’re doing well, just like all of our guys who leave and go other places. Wish them the best of luck.”

On punt returners…
“He just had an off game with that. He actually struggled in warm-ups, which is unusual for him. He’s usually very sure-handed. We have some other guys working back there too.”

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)

Evelyn Van Pelt

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. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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. Evelyn created the Rebel Walk in 2013 and has served as publisher and managing editor since its inception.

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