VIDEO: Lane Kiffin Weekly Press Conference (10-05-20)

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“Well all these people would say that it’s an advantage because I worked with him, I don’t really understand that. He’s 20-0 against coaches that worked for him. If you working for him gives you an advantage, you’re not a very good gambler, because 20-0 is a pretty strong record.”

Ole Miss head football coach Lane Kiffin met with the media via Zoom on Monday to recap the team’s 42-41 overtime win at Kentucky and preview this Saturday’s matchup with No. 2 Alabama (5 p.m. ET, ESPN). A transcript of the press conference can be found below the video block. Video and transcript is courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Productions.

Lane Kiffin meets with the media Monday via ZOOM to talk about the Kentucky win and facing his old boss this week, Nick Saban. The Rebels host #2 Alabama Saturday at 5pm.

Opening statement…
“Back to Saturday, good job of finding a way to win. Game could have went either way. They played extremely well, extremely hard and could have easily won the game. Very competitive game. We thought it was going to be a 12-round type of game, because of the way they run the ball and how physical they are on defense. And it was, but luckily, we won the last round. A lot of work to do. Didn’t run the ball that well in the game. No consistency and obviously didn’t stop the run or play well on defense until later in the game when we got a couple stops, so a lot of work to do. No. 1 team in the country coming in, in my opinion. The premier program in the country, no offense to Clemson. Those are the two premier programs that are operating on the highest level over the last 10 years, and this one’s doing it in the SEC, which is a little bit harder. We’ll have our hands full; I think this is probably best team coach has had. As far as being balanced all over and not having holes anywhere. They play a really high level on offense, really good on special teams, great returner. Playing really good defense. So, the last three years, the average score in this match has been something like 62-13, or 14 or something. We got a great challenge on our hands.”
 
On playing Nick Saban…
“I think that’s a storyline, but I know everyone downplays those things, but I don’t think it’s really that big a deal. We worked together for three years, learned a lot from him. Had a great run. I think we won 24 or 26 straight games when I was over there. Very productive times with a lot of great players and a lot of great wins. Only two regular season losses were to Ole Miss. Good time and obviously very grateful to him.”
 
On how Saban’s team is different now…
“I don’t think they’re a lot different. I think that change had started, I was thinking playing them at Tennessee versus playing them now, whatever that is 11 years later. They are so much more dynamic on offense, and how they play and they’re pushing the ball downfield. We played them, they had Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, great offensive line, McElroy, all that. But it was a different offense. A more, grind it out, slow. People could keep scores closer. Now they just kind of blow everybody out, just a totally different style of offense, whatever that’s been the last six years.”
 
On the run game at Kentucky…
“They were really physical, a couple really good backs. The quarterback is a really great quarterback and an elite runner. We don’t get off blocks and don’t play with good leverage upfront, it makes for a record-breaking day like that. We got a challenge here. I’m sure that they’re going to want to run the ball after seeing that film, even though they’ve become a pass-first team now. I didn’t think anybody would ever say in a Saban era. They are so, I would expect them to try and get the running game going this week.”
 
On the offensive line…
“Very up and down. I think the center and tackles have played well at times. We’ve struggled at guard. We’re going to have to play a lot better, not just this week but the rest of the schedule. It’s an all SEC schedule, you can’t just play defense like we have been and just rely that the quarterback and two receivers and tight end, bail us out. We’ve got to play better defense and we’ve got to run the ball better.”
 
On Kiffin and Saban shifting SEC offensive philosophy…
“I don’t know. I wouldn’t necessarily say that. We weren’t necessarily at times, depending on the year. They’re more pass-first than ever now, the last two years. Especially last year with Tua. We were balanced, the second year Derrick Henry set the record for most rushes in the history of the SEC, which still stands. I think that they’ve changed more than we had at that point.”
 
On staying in touch with Saban…
“That’s not really his wheelhouse. Not really sending out texts once in a while just checking on you.”
 
On getting Jerrion Ealy more involved in the offense…
“Block better. It’s hard to run when there are not big holes. We got to block better, and if we were running more efficiently then we’d run. I think if you follow other years, we do what works. When we’re throwing the ball really well, we throw more. We’d like to run more, but we got to be more efficient.”
 
On Mac Jones…
“We were there when we recruited Mac. I always thought the cool thing about Mac, was everybody said, ‘Why would you go there with Tua?’ And he didn’t care. He was very competitive but really confident in himself. Awesome family. Glad he’s doing well. Who would have thought these two quarterbacks are first and second in the country in quarterback efficiency. Happy he’s doing well.”
 
On Matt Corral’s next step…
“Just calming down and cleaning up his feet in the pocket. He’s kind of moving around a lot, making a lot of plays. At the same time, there are times he could stay in there and set himself a little more.”
 
On cleaning up areas of the defense…
“Pad leverage up front, playing too high, and tackling, a lot of missed tackles. If you don’t do those two things, you’re not going to stop the run. That’s our emphasis.”
 
On playing against Saban after working with him…
“Well all these people would say that it’s an advantage because I worked with him, I don’t really understand that. He’s 20-0 against coaches that worked for him. If you working for him gives you an advantage, you’re not a very good gambler, because 20-0 is a pretty strong record.”
 
On Saban’s record against former assistants…
“He knows them too. Everybody says, ‘They know him,’ well he knows the assistants. I think it goes both ways. Except for Ole Miss those two times and a few Iron Bowls, he’s 100 percent against everybody else really until you get to Clemson in the playoffs. He’s 100 percent against a lot of coaches and schools.”
 
On Corral being under center on the game-winning TD Saturday…
“That was a goal line situation where we are going to sprint out. It is just a play we’ve had over the years. We ran it last USC at Oregon. We beat Oregon, which put Alabama in the playoffs by the way. We ran it twice in that game, so just a play that we have for a situation like that.”
 
On slowing down the Alabama offense…
“Every year is new. Every year is different. We’ve got to play better. We got to limit explosive plays, keep the ball in front of us. Now they have another receiver I’ve never even heard of that went for 150 that runs by everybody. I thought there were two, now there’s three. We got to find a way. No one else has found a way for a while.”
 
On the secondary’s matchup versus Alabama…
“You’ve got to mix things up. We played different coverages. Not just all these guys just have great players, they have great offensive coordinators. This is a different world than 11 years years ago when you used to go play them and you knew they were going to be in the I-formation and be able to keep the game close. They’d pound it out, and now they don’t do that at all. This is a lot harder to play, that’s why coach changed six or seven years ago. Why he wanted a change because he saw the need to change and to spread things out, become an RPO team, and push the ball downfield more. I was glad he changed at the time. I’m not glad they changed now, I wish they were doing what they used to do.”
 
On handling different defensive issues between games…
“If you obviously have one thing you can work on it. But, one game it’s passing like that, one next thing rushing like that. Just means we’ve got a lot to work on. I don’t know statistically around the country if other people have this issue. But I think it certainly doesn’t help a new staff missing spring ball and spring game, the limited amount of tackling that comes with that.”
 
On frustrations of offense to defense disparity…
“It’s what you’re used to the SEC. It is what it is. We’re here for a reason, and you don’t walk in and everything is perfect. So, you come to do a job and we’re used things that got to get fixed and worked on and sometimes it can’t happen overnight. There’s no pixie dust.”
 
On status of Marc Britt, Jon Haynes, and Otis Reese
“I have not heard anything about Otis. Obviously it would be awesome to have him when we thought we were going to get him. Throughout all camp and everything we thought that we would. He was definitely starting for us. And the other two guys, their health is fine.”
 
On Donta Evans’ status and return…
“He has not (returned). He opted out. It is what it is. I don’t know how Alabama did this, it’s amazing. Coach did a great job of somehow keeping these guys happy and not feeling that they need to get ready for the draft at all, these first-rounders, so these guys around the country are opting out but none of the Alabama guys. Coach (Saban) must have had a great plan.”