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USA Today Sports Media Group
James Morgan

What Lane Kiffin said ahead of the Georgia game

Head coach Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss enter the Georgia game with a 8-1 record. The Rebels are hoping to defeat Georgia and vault themselves into the College Football Playoff picture. Ole Miss’ only loss this season is to the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Georgia is 9-0 and is looking to wrap up a trip to the SEC championship. Georgia head coach Kirby Smart was an assistant with Lane Kiffin at Alabama under Nick Saban, so the two coaches have a considerable history together.

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Lane Kiffin has done an excellent job of guiding the Rebels to one of the best records in the SEC this year. What did Ole Miss’ Lane Kiffin have to say ahead of the Georgia game?

Kiffin on the challenge of facing Georgia

Former South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp was the last coach to win at Georgia. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss’ one loss of the season came on the road to Alabama. They’ll face another tough road test at Georgia.

We have a gigantic challenge in front of us. We’re playing the number one team in the country, playing them at their place at night. I think the last time anyone has beat them there was five years ago before COVID. The last head coach that beat them there I can’t ask. He is now on their staff.

Kiffin on Georgia's offense without Brock Bowers

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Georgia’s offense has not missed star tight end Brock Bowers too much. The Bulldogs have a ton of talent at wide receiver for quarterback Carson Beck.

They have a lot of great players. Their quarterback plays really well. He’s really smart and has a great arm. They added the two receivers in the portal to strengthen their position out there after losing one to Texas. These guys are as great as advertised. When they have to really rise up they do, whether that is to come back at a game like Auburn and like the Kentucky game.

On getting star WR Tre Harris out of the transfer portal

Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss superstar wide receiver Tre Harris transferred to the Rebels from Louisiana Tech. Kiffin compares the transfer portal to the draft.

I think it is kind of like the draft. You don’t know for sure. We have seen him make plays.

Harris, who is Ole Miss’ leading receiver, is a good addition for the Rebels. The star receiver is willing to make sacrifices for the team.

All he wants to do is watch film and get better. Pushing through injuries, playing when he probably shouldn’t like at Alabama for a few plays, just shows who he is. That is where we went from a really good player to an elite player.

Kiffin on if he's talked to Kirby Smart this week

 John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Lane Kiffin and Kirby Smart are both in the same groupchat, but Kirby Smart has not responded to Kiffin.

I tried to get that (groupchat) going on Sunday and this morning. Other people have responded but he (Kirby Smart) has not responded yet.

Smart and Kiffin are both former Nick Saban assistants. They coach together in 2014 and 2015. The duo won a national championship with the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2015.

Maybe he has a rule during the week of the game he does not respond to you.

Kiffin went on to praise how well Kirby Smart has done at Georgia and noted how long Georgia has remained No. 1.

Kiffin on Georgia playing in another big game

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia has played in the past two SEC championships and national championships. The Bulldogs have won most of their big games recently.

This isn’t their first rodeo of playing in big games.

On building his roster to compete with teams like Georgia

 Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin does a great job of maximizing the talent he has. Kiffin is doing what he can to close the gap on elite programs like Georgia and Alabama.

We try. We run a pretty unique offense when it is working like last week’s game… When that works and you get it going, it neutralizes the defensive talent. When it doesn’t, it is not pretty. That’s done on purpose.

Kiffin tries to put his players in the best possible matchups in order to neutralize a talent advantage the other team may have.

There are going to be games you play the best players in college football, especially in this conference on defense. Those games are going to happen. You better have something creative. Or it doesn’t work. Talent wins a lot of games. You have to find a way to neutralize that at times.

On Ole Miss' ability to win close games

(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)

Ole Miss has won five straight games since losing to Alabama. The Rebels have won four of the five games by a touchdown or less and needed to comeback to win a few different times.

I joke with them. The cardiac kids. To have so many games that go to the wire and have to come back from being behind in the fourth quarter, I don’t know if I remember this many in a season, especially a full season yet.

Kiffin on making the College Football Playoff

(Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)

Kiffin notes that Ole Miss focuses on their opponent every week and not the College Football Playoff.

Yeah, we don’t ever talk about that. I think that is out of our control.

Ole Miss enters the Georgia game as -11.5-point underdogs, per FanDuel.

If Ole Miss can beat Georgia, then they have a shot to make the College Football Playoff.

Start focusing on that (the College Football Playoff), you see a lot of people do that and lose. I actually mentioned to them this morning, just saying since we have so many new players. This is why we don’t talk about it. Don’t mention it. Put it on goals. That is other people voting on something. If you don’t keep winning, none of that matters at all.

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