Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin had a golf ball thrown at him during the fourth-quarter delay in Neyland Stadium.
Yes, that is a true statement.
Saturday night’s game in Knoxville was a wild one that will certainly be remembered as one of the most chaotic games of the college football season. In the end, Tennessee came up short in a five-point loss to No. 13 Ole Miss, 31-26.
After the game, Kiffin spoke to the media about the game in Knoxville. Kiffin began by praising his quarterback Matt Corral, along with some of the other Ole Miss players on the team. However, very quickly into the interview, Kiffin was given a question regarding the delay in the fourth quarter. Kiffin did speak about the incident, while even acknowledging the golf ball that was thrown at him from the stands. Although, even after the chaos on the field, Kiffin was still complimentary of the Tennessee event staff and personnel.
Additionally, Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel also spoke to the media early on Sunday morning after the game. During Heupel’s press conference, the Tennessee coach broke down some key plays from the game, gave his reaction to the incident in the fourth, and spoke about some of the injuries that Tennessee is dealing with.
“Those were two good football teams who played hard tonight,” Heupel said after the game. “Unfortunately, we got the short end of the stick. I talked to our guys in the locker room and was disappointed because didn’t think we played smart enough in all three phases of the football game. We didn’t play smart enough to make the plays that were there for us and beat ourselves in some way. I’m not taking anything away from Ole Miss, that’s a really good football whose quarterback is a special player.”
Below is the full written transcript for Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin in his Week 7 press conference after defeating Tennessee in Neyland Stadium.
“It’s awesome to win a game in that environment. I told the guys all week that this place was going to be electric, as soon as we heard it was going to be a sellout of 102,455. I remember what it was like when we were here and at the South Carolina game and the energy. I knew we were going to have to weather a storm early of energy and emotion. A lot of stuff went wrong in the first quarter and luckily we played good defense to keep us hanging around. The quarterback (Matt Corral), I don’t know what you say about him. He doesn’t have his left guard. He doesn’t have two of his top three receivers. The tight end’s out and the guy ended up—with sacks—carrying the ball 30 times. That was not by design. Some of the quarterback draws and big plays obviously were by design because of their coverages. You can’t say enough about a guy who did that on the road and put the game on his shoulders. We should have done better when we got the ball back there with a minute left to win the game. We put our defense in a rough situation and the punt return. Our defense really won the game twice, so it was awesome to see. We needed that. If we would have won like last week in another high-scoring game, then we’re sitting here with that same feeling about, ‘here we go again on defense.’ That was a really hot offense, as everybody knows. We played really good on defense.”
On his thoughts on the delay late in the fourth quarter…
“I just wanted to play. The players have helmets. It’s the coaches that are going to get hit. I’ve still got my souvenir golf ball that I got hit with. I just said, ‘put the helmets on and let’s play.’ Really, the Tennessee people were taking care of us. I think David Elliott was over there saying, ‘we’re worried more about the players than anything else., even the Tennessee people.’ That was really cool to see that part of it.”
On if clutch play-making is the next step he wants to see his continue to take…
“Yes, it is. This is a lot better feeling defensively than a week ago. A week ago, we made the one two-point play stop, but in this one, we stopped them a number of times, including a fourth-down stop. We just make it dramatic. I think it was fourth-and-24 and they made 23 and three quarters. I guess that’s kind of the story of our life. It just doesn’t go easy. To see them rise to that and then after what felt like a 30-minute delay (was good). Then, we do a really bad job with a three-and-out on offense. We don’t cover the punt well and put our defense in a rough position. They did a great job. We really rushed there with three at the end. We had relentless effort and ended up getting five sacks against a very athletic quarterback.”
On the play that resulted in a safety due to an intentional grounding call in the end zone…
“Yes, that was a long time ago. It was really unfortunate, kind of like the crazy things of the night that happened. Our offensive guys heard a whistle. It’s really a pass. He’s going to throw the ball and (John Rhys) Plumlee’s not covered. (Dontario) Drummond cracks the guy and knocks the guy over while Plumlee’s in the flat and going to go for a long way. Matt and a number of the offensive players just stopped. That’s why he just let them have the ball. Even some of their defensive players stopped I think. The refs said they didn’t blow it, so somehow we all heard a whistle that didn’t happen. Unfortunately, the felt like a 14-point play because they picked it up and scored and we had a guy wide-open for a huge play.”
On what the difference was for the Rebel defense today, compared to last week…
“I think Jake Springer makes a difference. I think that was pretty obvious, throughout the game. The last time that guy played significantly was the opened I think. I think he makes a difference and we didn’t give up many big plays, explosive plays. We controlled the clock, which we don’t even try to do. At one point I looked up and we were over ten minutes ahead in time of possession, which probably helps your defense. We don’t know what that’s like, but we ran 101 plays on offense without penalties. That’s probably over 110 plays that were run. That helps the defense sitting there.”
Transcript courtesy of Tennessee Athletics.