'We've got to send a Christmas present to their kicker:' Everything Lane Kiffin said after Ole Miss' overtime win over Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Kentucky — Lane Kiffin got his first win as Ole Miss' head coach on Saturday. The hard way.
Ole Miss came back from a 14-point deficit and beat Kentucky 42-41 in overtime on the road to improve to 1-1 on the year. After the game, Kiffin spoke to the media about his offense's impressive day, his defense's rough start and the fortitude the whole team showed to come back from the early deficit it faced.
Here's everything Lane Kiffin said after his team's big win on Saturday night.
What Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin said:
Obviously that's an awesome win for our fans and for our kids. It's a crazy game. To be down like that and then to come back and go to overtime, it was just a really crazy game. It was just great to see our guys battle back. We didn't play great in a lot of areas. We sputtered on offense for a while. We obviously didn't stop the run. But at the end of the day you've just got to score more than they do.
I said it all week: We've just got to get to 1-0 and whether [the score] is 2-0 or 42-41, you've got to find a way to win. We did. We've got to send a Christmas present to their kicker.
Q: Your defense gave up 400 rushing yards but made three key stops late. What do you take away from their play?
Kiffin: 408, actually. Obviously you're not going to win many games like that. We did make some stops. They are a great rushing team. But we've got to play better than that. Like you said, we made some stops there in the second half and they gave us a chance to win.
Q: Was something different about the defense in the second half to make those stops?
Kiffin: It wasn't really a scheme thing. We were there. Guys were missing tackles and we weren't playing physical up front. I thought we were getting knocked around on both sides of the ball. I don't think we ran the ball well on offense. So luckily we've got some great skill players that bailed us out in the passing game. In this conference I don't think you can be finesse and win a lot so we've got to become more physical.
Q: Can you talk about Jonathan Mingo's play today?
Kiffin: I thought Jonathan did great. He's had a great camp, the balls just didn't go to him last week with so many balls to Elijah in the coverages. Like I said people were going to figure it out and like you saw he didn't have as big of a day. He still had 10 catches but only 92 yards. So Jonathan stepped up. 128 yards and a couple touchdowns.
Q: What adjustments do you want to make to the running offense?
Kiffin: Obviously we want to run the ball well. We've got to also do what they're giving us. This is a Cover 3 team so the box was loaded all the time so it's hard to run. Look at Auburn. They struggled at times. They force you to throw the ball. It's what they do. And 24-of-29 is pretty effective at that. But we do have to run the ball better.
Q: Are you impressed by how the offense has responded to adversity these first two games?
Kiffin: They did a good job. I feel like they actually play better from behind. We start fast then we hit a lull when we're ahead or tied and then we play better behind. It was good. We screwed up the speed option down on the goal line by cracking the receiver so the corner came off. I thought that was maybe going to haunt us and be the reason we lost. We should've walked in there and [instead] left the ball down on the 1. It's really good to fight back from that because that's hard to overcome.
Q: Did you consider going for either of the 4th downs at the end of the first and second halves?
Kiffin: I did not. Both were in our own territory. You can't do that. The way they're running the ball, you've got to make them drive the length of the field.
Q: What does Mingo give you with his physicality after the catch?
Kiffin: It's a great attitude. I wish we had that attitude all over. I've really been impressed by him. Like I said, he just didn't get the ball a lot last week. He made the most of his plays today.
Q: How big was MoMo Sanogo's fourth-down sack late in the game?
Kiffin: That was huge. I just felt like the whole energy of the sidelines, it was a huge play.
Q: How do you evaluate Matt Corral's play and his improvements from last week?
Kiffin: I thought he played better today than last week. Last week guys were wide open. He had to make a lot of really tough plays today against a rush that really was hitting him a lot and we weren't protecting him real well. The kid came in and took a shot in the fourth quarter and went in the locker room and came back out and played. It's good to see.
He was gone. If they would've went 3-and-out he wouldn't have been in there. I think he was gone for about six or seven minutes.
(Corral's response: Oh no, I just had to go to the bathroom.)
Contact Nick Suss at 601-408-2674 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @nicksuss on Twitter.