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TRANSCRIPT: Everything Lane Kiffin said at his Monday Presser Ahead of Vanderbilt Game

TRANSCRIPT: Everything Lane Kiffin said at his Monday Presser Ahead of Vanderbilt Game

OXFORD, Miss. – (Release) Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin met with the media Monday to preview this Saturday’s home game versus Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and on SEC Network. A transcript can be found below.

Opening Statement:
“Good day out there. Good to get through the film with the guys and move on to Vanderbilt. Got a chance to play in front of our home crowd which we’re going to need. You see evidence all the time how important home crowds are. You saw it last week, it affected our cadence and our false starts playing at Auburn, and how much that affects you. Our crowd has been great this year lately, so we need it again. We’ve seen it help impact games, so hopefully, it’s a good crowd. Great kickoff time, great weather, so hopefully they’ll show up just like we ask our players to do.”

On Tre Harris playing more in the slot versus Auburn:
“Well, that’s something that’s kind of game plan-ish and stuff. Tre’s a longer body, he does a really good job blocking in there. We had some perimeter plays and things like that. Those guys had really good, physical DBs. I think that’s a really good secondary, especially with No. 0 coming back, I think he’s a really elite player. So we just have to do different things to try to move the ball.”

On the offense’s struggles with third down:
“Yeah, we’ve had this problem, for whatever reason, almost every year if you look at our third down stats. It’s usually a combination of a lot of things. Whether it’s missed blocks in protection. Now, we’ll probably never be at the top in third downs with the way that we play now. So many of our third downs, we know we’re going for it on fourth down, and the way we call plays and stuff, which I don’t think is a secret anymore. But, we didn’t execute and we didn’t beat man to man and certain things. If you don’t beat man to man and protect long enough, make accurate throws, and put it all together, you’ll get that. We’ve been getting that now for a couple of weeks.”

On what he saw that showed him this team’s ability to gel together:
“You see it more in adversity. The first day of camp everybody’s always excited and that’s easy and everything. I think it’s more when games don’t go well early on in the game. We’ve come from behind in three games I think, and come back to win. Or you lose a game like Alabama and you get adversity and you see those types of things and how players react. Everybody says they’re all in right away. Kind of like life, when adversity hits, then what do they do? When things don’t go their way and they’re not playing exactly how they wanted, then what happens? That’s where I feel like this team’s been different.”

On if he anticipates Zxavian Harris to play this weekend:
“We do. That was medical. He was not cleared to play.”

On what stands out to him about Vanderbilt:
“They’ve battled through some injuries on defense. I think they’re really, really well coached. They gave us problems last year, especially in the first half. I think that they do a good job of knowing what they do and what they have and utilizing it. We’ve got to keep improving, we’ve got to put together a complete game. I know I say that every week, but we need to do that. We need to get more players playing well. I think defensively we’ve done a good job getting more players playing well, I think offensively we’ve kind of backtracked on that a little bit. Kind of overplaying players, especially some guys like Tre Harris playing too many snaps.”

On the offense slowing down while the defense has gotten better:
“You know, we just try to do whatever it is to win that game to get to 1-0. Didn’t really necessarily slow down tempo as much but it slowed down conservativeness I would say in that game. I think that’s kind of different than years ago for me where I would say we’re just going to do what we do. And you can say the run-pass ratio, whatever it was, I think we were 10 or 11 for 17 on passes and all the rushing attempts. That shows you that, for a team that at one point was considered a passing team this year, I’m just trying to win the game. At times there, once we got the lead we play to our defense.”

On his success in conference night road games and what he tells his team:
“I think that the home and road thing in the SEC is bigger than any other conference. I think you have dramatically, really hard places to play here. Just like Saturday night, even with Auburn having a down year, that was an electric place and we had major cadence issues going on and we couldn’t hear. It didn’t help that someone behind our bench, one of their fans, had a whistle. I don’t know why we’ve had success at night. It’s hard in this conference. I personally think, even though we had some false starts, that tempo offense helps playing on the road in really loud places versus the old-school huddle and cadence. I think it makes it harder for the fans to know when to be loud because you’re going so fast. Now when you have some three and outs like we did in the game, it goes against you. I know it’s really big. That’s why I’m trying to encourage our fans so much to come out and be the way they were against Arkansas, and especially LSU. That’s what they want our players to do. They want our players to show up every week, so we’re hoping for the same thing from them.”

On Suntarine Perkins’ play this year:
“We knew he was really special. I don’t know if there was any way to know he was this electric, this fast. You’ve seen him at different times catch two of the fastest quarterbacks in America in the last week and against Alabama. He’s just really, really special. Phenomenal kid. No issues, he just wants to get better, just wants to be coached and do the right things and not worry about the external stuff, which is very refreshing nowadays with these kids.”

On the staff evaluating personality and character when targeting players in the transfer portal:
“I think that’s a challenge now, in general, but especially if you’re heavy portal, is culture. Every year you’ve got a restart you’ve got so few guys that really know what it was before. It’s important what you bring in, you can’t just change everybody, it doesn’t work like that. We’ve seen where it hasn’t, and unfortunately, they’re not here. It is important to evaluate that, and we do more than ever. I call it the patriot way, kind of really evaluating the free agents you bring in, and how they’re going to work with your culture and what you have. We continue to move that up the level of importance along with obviously playmaking ability. If you were only taking a couple and you had 90 percent of your roster returning, it’s different. When half your team is leaving and you don’t have it set you can’t take as much risk in bringing them in if you don’t have it set like a veteran team.”

On if Juice Kiffin’s use as a recruiting tool and unofficial mascot was intentional:
“That really wasn’t, there was no intention. Landry talked me into going out there and wanted a dog. There was no plan behind that, it just kind of started morphing into that. And to be clear, most of what they do I don’t even know about. This dog’s gone all the time and I’ll ask where he is and he’s got two showings and two appointments. He’s invited to grand openings and stuff, they just tell me he’ll be back at 8:00. It’s like having a kid or something. I don’t really do nearly as much as you would think on that.”

On Cedric Johnson’s growth:
“He’s been awesome all along. He’s grown as a better player, stronger and bigger and better and faster. Like I said, we have culture guys who are elite thinkers, and elite team players, it’s not about them, it’s truly about the team. And that’s not the case all the time. He’s awesome at having people around, at working with young kids. He’s one of our favorites.”

On not being complacent and the players having an “it’s just Vanderbilt” mindset:
“We showed them some upsets that just happened, especially a really big one over in the ACC. These guys were beating us at halftime last year. We’ve got a lot of work to put in, a lot of work to do, so it’s a lot more about us than who we’re playing.”

On how far the home atmosphere at VHS has come and where it ranks in the SEC:
“It depends where you’re starting. I remember when we came here with Alabama and it was electric, it was great. Then we had the Covid year and then you know, I think I said, the first couple of years there were some really disappointing games. Our fans say they’re really disappointed in me some games and our players, and this year for whatever reason has felt a lot better in the conference games, and it’s an advantage. We’ve seen the false starts that people have had in games, and the issues they’ve had, especially late in games, because of our crowd. Our student section has not just showed up, but really been electric.”

On if the fanbase has gotten the message of how important it is to show up and be loud:
“I don’t know. It seems like it’s been different this year. I don’t know exactly why, but I’m glad it is. I remember two years ago we were pretty highly ranked when we played Vanderbilt and it was one of Matt [Corral’s] last games, and the place was not electric. Seems like we’ve come a long way so hopefully this week will be an example of that.”

On what has impressed him through the last three games:
“I think the last two, the defense and the way that they played, the way they’ve stopped the run for the most part except for one really long run. And really just the way they’ve been on the sidelines as a team. Not getting discouraged and really getting into it and overcoming adversity when it comes. It’s been really good, I’m very pleased with where this team is as far as their attitude and how hard they play, we’ve just got to do some things better.”

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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