Jacksonville Sports Day

SEC PREVIEW: Ole Miss, Kiffin Prepare for Matchup with No. 5 Florida

OXFORD, Miss. – The Ole Miss football team met Wednesday morning and put on film one of their toughest practices yet just three days away from their season opener against No. 5 Florida.

While the Rebels have been working hard on the field getting ready for Week 1, Lane Kiffin and his staff have poured over every scenario possible, shifting players to different positions making sure they’re ready for whatever happens once the SEC season begins.

“Continuing prep for Florida. Last hard practice was this morning. Then we walkthrough on Thursdays, then have a very short, fast Friday practice,” Kiffin said. “Still a lot of work to do. Still shuffling around a lot of people for potential scenarios throughout the season with COVID. Just trying everything to be prepared the best we can.”

As Kiffin has attested throughout camp, the current situation has been especially difficult on his first-year staff. The Rebels have installed completely new systems, and without spring practice, that has left little time to rep the basics like tackling, eye discipline and ball security.

“I hope we’re good at those things,” Kiffin said. “I haven’t watched much football, but when I get people reporting to me what’s going on, there’s a lot of sloppy play, which you would expect. A lot of turnovers, a lot of missed tackles and not playing the ball well. I’m sure that’s a product of no spring. We’re just doing the best we can. I have no idea what’s going to happen Saturday, but we’ll be there. I know that much.”

Kiffin will keep his eye on his both the offense and defense as Ole Miss plays its first game under a new head coach. Contrary to what he has done in past jobs, Kiffin will relinquish all playcalling duties to offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.

“We’re running what you would’ve seen at UCF,” Kiffin said. “I’m there for him if he has questions or things, but I decided when I took the job to hire a system and let them do it. I think when you mess with them too much, that can be not good as a head coach. I try to leave my coaches alone for the most part so I can manage the game.”

In addition to an entire new coaching staff, the Rebels will also take the field Saturday with a new look. Ole Miss will debut its brand new powder blue jerseys against the Gators. They’ve been a big hit with players and recruits. Now, it’s time to see how the team plays in its new threads.

“I think it’s been very positive,” Kiffin said. “I know the players were extremely grateful and excited. I think recruits will know more from watching the game. You can’t please everybody. Maybe there are some fans that don’t like them from a tradition standpoint. My message would be that people are a lot more happy when you get good players and win games. So sometimes you have to make decisions for what your players want and what recruits want.”

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