When you’re an Ole Miss head coach, it’s always good to start the Egg Bowl 1-0. Lane Kiffin did just that on Saturday, as his Rebels defeated arch-rival Mississippi State 31-24 in Oxford.

“It’s a really neat win,” Kiffin said in the opening statement of his press conference, accompanied by his son, Knox. “First time being a part of this rivalry, you could feel the energy from our fans even though the stadium wasn’t full and our players with our sideline energy. We didn’t play great. I really thought we should’ve opened the game up there at the end of the first half to make it 28-7 at the time but instead we didn’t score and they went down and scored there on a 90-yard drive.

“It’s great to come across with a win. I just wish we would’ve played cleaner and better. I’m happy for our fans, happy for our players. Thank God that he gave us a chance to play. A lot of people aren’t getting a chance to play. I reminded our players of that this morning after church. It’s good to get the trophy back where it belongs and let’s keep it there for a long time.”

Kiffin then took questions from the media for the remainder of his press conference, which clocked in at just over six minutes.

Here’s what he had to say:

  • On forced fumble in first quarter: “Obviously, it’s a big momentum swing. We almost scored on it, so that was huge. There were a lot of really close plays that were reviewed today. That’s what happens in rivalry games. Usually records don’t matter and they’re very competitive. I was concerned we would struggle today.”
  • On red zone mistakes: “The first one, the ball’s right in your hands and you drop it. That’s nothing they did. It’s huge momentum. They go 3-and-out. We’re going to go right down the field and score there. We drop it. I think three possessions in the red zone where we only got three points out of all three. It would’ve made the game a lot different.”
  • On staying sharp with unpredictable schedule changes: “Yeah, it’s almost like we play then we don’t play then we play then we don’t play. We talked about that today. I’m not really sure what we’re going to do but I think we’ll treat it like last week. We can’t treat it like a bye week and give them the whole weekend off because they need to keep playing and keep this momentum.”
  • On Elijah Moore breaking receptions record: “It’s really amazing to do that in eight games, all SEC opponents. When we first got here I sat him down after watching his film and said ‘Hey, you’re going to break the SEC record. Not just the school record, but the SEC record.’ I thought we were going to play 12 plus a bowl game. It’s really just amazing. He’s just a great player. He was cramping at the end and stayed in there. It was awesome, especially after what happened last year.”
  • On Deane Leonard’s pass breakup in the fourth quarter: “You always feel different when it’s seven versus three. If it had been a three-point game there at the end it’d have been really scary. It was a huge play. We’ve got to get better at four-minute on the offense. Just like the Auburn game when it cost us. We only needed one first down to win it today.”
  • On how players felt snapping the Egg Bowl losing streak: “I don’t know how many years had it been. I didn’t even know that. I think it meant more to them than me. I was excited we won, obviously. But they’ve been here. A lot of them grew up here. I was excited obviously but to see them in the locker room after it was like winning a Super Bowl. It’s neat to see them so excited. They put a lot of work in to get to this point.”

[H/T Clarion Ledger]