Everything Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin said after 42-0 dismantling of Georgia Tech

Nick Suss
Mississippi Clarion Ledger

ATLANTA − Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin was in a deserved good mood after Saturday's trip into ACC territory.

The No. 17 Rebels (3-0) defeated Georgia Tech 42-0 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, securing Ole Miss' first shutout since 2014 while running for 316 yards and six touchdowns. Kiffin was complimentary of the way his players prepared and responded to challenges and said his team did a great job of executing his philosophy of the best way to win on the road is with defense, rushing and special teams.

Here's everything Kiffin said after the Rebels' decisive win.

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Everything Ole Miss football coach Lane Kiffin said:

Opening statement:

Any time you go on the road and play an ACC team and win 42-0, a lot of good things had to happen. We challenged the guys after playing really well last week to come on the road and play well. 'Pack your run game and pack your defense' was what we said all week to do and they did that. The defense, a shutout on the road, first time in 8 or 9 years or something like that. With playing a lot of people. I think we played every person we brought. It was really neat, seeing those guys make plays at the end. And then 62 carries for over 300 yards rushing. It's kind of old Georgia Tech numbers.

Are you surprised by how well the defense has jelled?

I wouldn't say surprised, but pleased. Those are a lot of moving parts. Some people playing spots they weren't playing a year ago. Some people have to be unselfish because everybody doesn't get to start. That's one thing that I think so far guys have done a good job of. Everybody wants to start and get all the stats, but that's not going to happen. So they've got to play their roles. Our guys on defense have done that really well.

What's consistently worked with your pass rush?

I think the two starting ends are playing like really elite rushers. And then Ivey plays a lot so that's a lot to deal with. So we moved [Cedric Johnson] around today and ran some plays that give our offense problems all the time. So we'd really saved some things through two weeks offensively and defensively. We used some of those today. Some were the engineered run game with the quarterback involved in it. Then on defense moving around a lot with Ced.

Did you expect to run the ball so much today?

That was. It doesn't always go that way. A lot of times games end up completely different than what you planned for, but that's really what we planned to do. Crack safeties and get the ball in the perimeter and pull the ball with the quarterback when needed. It's something we really hadn't done through two weeks.

How big has the offensive line experience been?

Really good, especially going on the road against a team that stems a lot and moves around up front. They gave Clemson problems. Look at Clemson's rush stats compared to today. You better play really well and this was a combination of receivers blocking, the line, tight ends and the backs running well.

How important was it for Jaxson Dart to rebound from his interception with a good second half?

That was really important. He's still young. They're going to make mistakes. We want them to play grade. I was obviously really on him because that was exactly what we talked about not doing in the previous series. That was disappointing, but it was great to see him come back and, as my old coach would say, take an a** chewing and regroup. He did a really good job and played really well in the second half and played really well and threw with good timing.

When did you make the choice to start Jaxson Dart?

I don't know. We just kind of went with him. He practiced really well. He had a much better week than he had the week previous. So we just did. I think Luke would've done great if he went first too.

How important was it to get out to a quick 14-0 lead?

It was huge. To go on the road and play well right away. I felt our offense looked like we have when we looked really, really good on offense. Fast tempo, giving people problems. They weren't getting lined up. A lot of that, people think you run the ball a lot in this system. You really don't. You run the ball a lot in this system. You really have it going fast. That's what we were able to do today, which we've done over the years for a while now. So that was really good.

What was your message with a big lead at halftime?

Just to not really worry about the first half. Don't worry about the opponent. The crowd wasn't going to be there. Play like we had the week before. It looks like we've learned from the first week because we didn't do well in the second half in Week 1. But now they've done it for two weeks. That makes it 101-3 in the last two weeks, so they're doing some things right.

What's been the biggest difference on special teams?

You guys know I don't like taking credit. We were actually in punt safe when Ced just made a great play. I could be like every other coach and be like 'Yeah, we worked on that all week. It was all us.' That was just a really good player making a really good play. We actually need to work on not picking the ball up when his knee is on the ground or else he would've scored too. But no, special teams has played really well the last two weeks. That's the third part we say about playing on the road: Run game, defense, special teams.

What has stood out about Zach Evans through three games?

He needs to stop fumbling. It's like Jaxson. They both had one really bad play. When everything is going good, it's the only thing that can break momentum, putting the ball on the ground or throwing the pick. Hopefully he learned from that. Other guys went in and they made plays.

Can you name a starting quarterback?

I'm never going to make a decision without watching the film. We'll go back and look at it. I feel really confident at this point that both guys can help us do some good things.

Have you ever been part of a game with zero passing touchdowns and six rushing touchdowns?

Yeah, I said it this morning before the game. We played at Old Dominion when we were at FAU. They actually had the same defensive end (as Georgia Tech). This was like five years ago, so the portal and COVID kept him a lot. You can ask him. The same thing happened when we played them.

What does Jaxson bring to the offense?

I thought in the second half he made some timing throws that were over people with really good touch. And he did that during the week. He played faster in the week. We just coach our way. You've got to drop and play fast at quarterback. He's not been trained that way at all. This is a learning process for him and he looks a lot different.

Contact Nick Suss at nsuss@gannett.com. Follow Nick on Twitter @nicksuss.