LEXINGTON, Ky. • If Ole Miss finds itself in a high-scoring affair with Kentucky on Saturday, the Rebels say they’re up to the challenge.
In the debut game of new coach Lane Kiffin and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby, who joined the staff after a successful couple of years at UCF, the Rebels put up 35 points and 615 yards on No. 5 Florida – and still lost by two touchdowns.
The Gators were better, scoring points on nine of 11 possessions in the game.
The loss hasn’t drained confidence from Ole Miss players nor do they feel pressure with the idea that high-scoring games could become routine.
“We just play our roles and try to execute every play we get,” senior wide receiver Dontario Drummond said.
At UCF, Lebby was quarterbacks coach in 2018 and quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator in 2019.
He handled play-calling against Florida, and that will be the routine for the season.
For Ole Miss, it’s another offense that stresses tempo – every one has, going back to Hugh Freeze – but players who have played only one game in this new system express confidence because of what they see as increased attention to detail.
“I’ve never been in an offense to where everything’s broken down to where the skill guys are immediately looking to the sideline, but I’m also, me the center, looking at the line judge to see where he spots the ball and the field judge to see where he sets the ball directly on the field,” junior center Ben Brown said. “I’ve never been in an offense that critiques it down to that to make it run as efficient as possible.”
Last Saturday was Brown’s first start at center after two seasons of starting at right guard.
Last week, Kentucky limited Auburn to just 57 plays and 91 rushing yards, but Tigers quarterback Bo Nix was efficient against the Wildcats’ secondary. He completed 16 of 27 attempts for 233 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Kentucky forced five Auburn punts but forced no turnovers.
Kentucky coach Mark Stoops praised the play of defensive end Josh Paschal, a 6-foot-3, 278-pound junior, who had four tackles with 1½ tackles for loss.
“One guy stood out in particular, Josh Paschal,” Stoops said. “The rest of the guys showed up at times, but he really, really played at a high level.”
Paschal will most often face the left side of the Ole Miss offensive line with redshirt freshman guard Reese McIntyre and sophomore tackle Nick Broeker.
Brown says Ole Miss players took to the new offense right away.
“I think the swagger was brought in Day 1. As soon as coach Kiffin and coach Lebby introduced this offense to us it really excited us and opened our eyes to the potential of what this could be.”