Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin, OL Jeremy James discuss upcoming game against Georgia Tech
OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive lineman Jeremy James joined ‘Voice of the Rebels,’ David Kellum, on “Reb Talk” Thursday evening to discuss the team’s performance this season and the upcoming game vs. Georgia Tech.
Ole Miss travels to Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. matchup with the Yellow Jackets. The meeting will be the fifth time the two teams have faced off against one another, with three of the four contests between the Rebels and Yellow Jackets coming in bowl games.
Coach Kiffin told Kellum he felt good about the Central Arkansas game. “We played a complete game for the most part, which a lot of times early in the year you’re frustrated with. You play a team like that and play really well in the first half and then (sometimes) come out in the second half and don’t play well because of the score,” Kiffin said. “So, I was really proud. That was a big challenge all week to them to do that.”
Coach Kiffin talked about the Rebels’ upcoming road test, the first of the season — which will also serve as the first away game for 55 new players (out of a total of 125) on the team.
“It’s almost like it’s our first year here because so many people are new. You’re going on the road. You haven’t done it. They haven’t done it with the coaches, with each other, and you’re going to play an ACC team on ABC. You know, there’s a lot to work on.”
Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin on the first road game of 2022
Offensive lineman Jeremy James agrees with his head coach. “We’re going to find out who we are, what we’re made of,” James told the Reb Talk audience.
“It’s going to be a big game for all of us to see what we are as a team this year…Each (year’s) team is different. So, it’s going to be an important game for us.”
Offensive lineman Jeremy James
Quarterback Luke Altmyer left last week’s Central Arkansas game with an injury, and Rebel fans everywhere want to know the status of his health as well as whether he or Jaxson Dart will be the first one in the game Saturday.
“I would anticipate them both playing,” Coach Kiffin said. “They gotta keep getting better and make plays around them.”
The Rebels will continue to rely on the running back room for production. “They’re special,” James said. “It’s probably the most talented group I’ve seen.”
Another area in which Ole Miss is excelling is in the pass rush.
“I have especially (been pleased) for there being a lot of three-man rush. That makes it difficult. So, our guys have done great. A number of the defensive ends have done really well, but Cedric (Johnson) was lights out last week. So, you know that’s really good to see because you need pass rush in this league.”
Coach Kiffin on the Ole Miss pass rush
Previewing Georgia Tech
Looking at Georgia Tech, head coach Geoff Collins is in his fourth year at the helm of the Yellow Jackets. He has overhauled the Georgia Tech program, which now runs a pro-style spread offense. He has also recruited well, adding three of the highest-ranked recruiting classes in the history of Georgia Tech football. All that being said, however, the coach is on a bit of a hot seat as the Yellow Jackets finished 3-9 last season and are currently 1-1 heading into Saturday’s game.
At his weekly press conference, Coach Collins discussed his observations of Ole Miss football and what he expects to see on Saturday.
“They are an explosive offense; both quarterbacks are very, very talented, their running backs are really really good, they have a host of receivers that can make explosive plays and stretch the field vertically, and an offensive line that is big, that is physical, and the pace of their offense and the multiplicity of their offense is a big challenge.“
Georgia Tech Coach Geoff Collins on Ole Miss
The Yellow Jackets’ head coach also knows it is tough to prepare to play a team like Ole Miss. “It is a big challenge to replicate out at practice,” he began. “We are trying our best to simulate how it is going to be on Saturday, but once it starts rolling, they know what they are doing, they are fast in what they do and they execute at a high level, and they’ve got really good players running it as well so we have a big challenge ahead of us and we are going to need every day of prep and every minute to get ready to play at a high level.”
The Rebels will look to their defense, which ranks No. 9 in FBS in sacks per game (4.0) and No.12 in tackles for loss per game (10), to stop Georgia Tech’s dual-threat quarterback Jeff Sims and junior running back Dontae Smith, who comes off of a 2021 season that ended with him earning a Second-Team All-ACC nod from Pro Football Focus serving as a rotational back in the team’s offense.
Ole Miss’ offense will face the Yellow Jackets’ Third-Team All-ACC linebacker (PFF) Charlie Thomas and senior Ayinde Eley, who ended his 2021 season with 90 total tackles. Defensive lineman Keion White will be another player to watch as he currently leads the team in sacks with three.
While fans saw improvement in last Saturday’s game against UCA, Ole Miss football will have to work even harder on the road this week to continue their winning streak as they face arguably their first truly formidable opponent of the season. The Rebels have an opportunity to fine-tune their offense and make a statement that the Rebel defense is back in solid fashion.
How will the Rebels respond in Atlanta, and who will step up? Tune in at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday to find out. Then, stay tuned to The Rebel Walk for all your postgame info.
(Feature image credit: Reed Jones, Ole Miss)
Donna Sprabery is a former teacher, graduation coach, and academic coach for boys basketball. She graduated from the University of West Alabama with a major in business education and from Arkansas State University with a MA in Educational Leadership. A native of Meridian, MS, Donna enjoys traveling, gardening, writing, volunteer work, and cheering on the Rebels.