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January 2, 2021

Lane Kiffin

Tampa, Florida, USA

Raymond James Stadium

Ole Miss Rebels

Ole Miss 26, Indiana 20

LANE KIFFIN: Really an awesome day for us to come down here, obviously out a lot of players, a starter on defense and I guess four -- our most four productive players in the receiving game on offense. Got to come away with a win versus a top-10, -11 team in the country, was really awesome. Credit to our players, and we said, look around the country, there's teams that are stepping up with players out, there's teams that are making excuses that they don't have players, so we want to be that team that stepped up, so it was awesome to see, and really cool for our guys. Seniors that have been here four or five years that hadn't been to a bowl game. Really special.

Q. I imagine it's kind of a daily double for you today, the school announces you're getting a new contract and then you win a bowl game in dramatic fashion. Pretty good day in your football career?

LANE KIFFIN: Again, to win a bowl game after five years, not being to one, you know, contract extension, showing both sides' commitment to doing this thing, and like we said in the release, just getting started. It happened to get done this morning. It had been in the works for a while, and really good timing.

Like I said, just getting started.

Q. After all the accolades your offense has gotten all year, how happy do you feel for those guys on the other side that it was them that kind of stepped up to secure this?

LANE KIFFIN: Really happy. You know, we talked about it all week, we're going to need that. We're not going to go score 60 points. You just can't do that without all those weapons, and versus a team that shuts people down. I think they had a shutout last week, whatever, seven points or something. So this is a really good defense, and you're down a lot of players, so we knew it was going to be a struggle, and it was great to see the defense play like they did.

Q. John Rhys making those big plays at the end of the game, the 44-yarder but also the 3rd down catch that was contested. What did you think about him and him stepping up in that way?

LANE KIFFIN: I think that showed obviously we were down receivers. I think we were down to four scholarship receivers, and so practicing him all week, so for a guy to only play one week at receiver, come in, dropped the first one -- he's right here, so we can make fun of him.

But the 3rd down play was awesome. There was pass interference and he caught it, then obviously the big play after that. Just a remarkable kid to be able to do that. You just can't do that; this isn't like Pop Warner. We're in major college football playing a top-10 team. To just go play receiver for one week and go in and make plays is really special.

Q. You've played a lot of close games this season; what was the biggest difference today?

LANE KIFFIN: We made the plays. We had been in a lot of these, should have won two for sure where we had the ball in four-minute and then we gave them the ball back and didn't stop them and had the ball in two-minute. So we were able to do that today on both sides, scored and then stopped them. So it was good to see and hopefully springboards us into doing that in the future.

Q. What do you feel like a win against a team like that does for the future of this program and this team?

LANE KIFFIN: Well, I just think it's exciting for recruits, for fans especially. Our fans have been through some rough years here lately, so it's awesome to win the Egg Bowl and then win a bowl game. That's about as good as it gets in year one, and now we've got to get better.

Q. Coach, to follow up a little bit on that, how big is it to win a bowl game when it comes to recruiting, especially when no one has been able to come to your campus?

LANE KIFFIN: Well, I think it's normally a little bit bigger because it used to be we hadn't signed everybody until February, but we're like 90, 95 percent done, so it's a lot more for the next year, and you see that all the time. So like a team wins the National Championship, the impact is a lot of times a year from now in recruiting, so hopefully this is.

Q. When you talk about people opting out and everything and that the bowl is meaningless, there's a bunch of guys in your locker room that don't think this game is meaningless, do they?

LANE KIFFIN: No, I was like, I think they won the Super Bowl the way they acted, so it was awesome to see, and we celebrated it. A very hard year for a lot of people. It was a cool moment.

Q. Lane, after the defense gives up those two touchdowns back-to-back, what do you and the coaches tell the players before they go out for that last drive to try and make the stop and win the game?

LANE KIFFIN: Stop them. Don't give up another touchdown. That's about it. But really we just revert back to the way they were playing early. You guys have stopped them the whole game, so let's do it again. This is what you worked so hard for in the off-season.

Q. What specifically was the defense doing differently today that maybe you hadn't seen from them most of the season?

LANE KIFFIN: Explosive plays. I think we really limited explosive plays today and made them drive the length of the field and forced a long field goal and did a good job that way.

Q. It kind of gets lost, but Casey Kelly had six catches in the first half, the touchdown. This is a guy that stepped up in place of Kenny when he opted out. What have been your thoughts about him and how he's really stepped up to the plate?

LANE KIFFIN: Great job. We talked to those guys last night in the meeting about these are guys that haven't played a lot, just like John at receiver. All of them want to play more, and now they get a chance to play, and they made plays today, and it was awesome to see.

Q. Lane, could you talk about the job Henry Parrish and Snoop and even Kentrel Bullock did today at running back without having Jerrion Ealy?

LANE KIFFIN: A really good job. You're talking about really young guys, a sophomore and two true freshmen playing, so it was great to see, against a very good defense that's very complicated, does a lot of things. And people have struggled against them. You look at what people have done, outside of Ohio State a lot of people haven't moved the ball at all.

Q. What about Casey Kelly moving ahead? He had a big catch against LSU, big day today. Does that make you feel better about your tight end position going into next season?

LANE KIFFIN: It does. There's been guys stepping up, so Casey has done a good job. We told these guys, you're really good players, you just haven't had an opportunity to play because there were guys in front of you. So it was really good to see guys step up.

Q. He's still a non-scholarship player; is that right?


Q. Going back to the contract extension, can you tell us a little bit what made you want to sign that extension this morning?

LANE KIFFIN: We had just been talking about it for a while, and just really love it here, love the direction of the program. Keith has been amazing to us, has a great plan for the future here, and we're on the same page about we're just getting started. We want to build a championship program, and there's a lot of things we need to do to do that.

Q. Just the way Matt has matured this season, it seemed like Indiana was giving a lot of those same drop-eight looks that he struggled with early this season. How did you see him progress from struggling to kind of being MVP today?

LANE KIFFIN: I think the numbers show, 31 of 45 shows patience. That's what you're supposed to do. You're supposed to learn from your mistakes. Again, we're talking about a sophomore, so to do what he's done, outside of two games, has been as good as anybody in the country.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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