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NOTEBOOK: Lane Kiffin dismisses signal-stealing claim

Lane Kiffin gave his former boss and Alabama head coach Nick Saban a scare in Ole Miss’s 63-48 loss to the No. 2 Crimson Tide on Saturday.

So much of a scare, in fact, that Saban and players said they felt maybe Kiffin knew what was coming next from the Alabama defense before the next play was ran. Following the game, Saban alluded to the possible fact that the Rebels were stealing their signals, or at the very least recognized them, allowing the Rebel offense to put up video-game stats against the Tide.

Kiffin dismissed that claim during his regular Monday press conference, noting his offense moves too fast to rely on getting the opposing defense’s signals figured our before the next snap.

“First off, I’ve never known the signals,” Kiffin said. “I never even paid attention to that when I was there. I’m sure they wouldn’t even be the same. This is a new coordinator. I love Coach Saban and have a lot of respect for him, but if you understand tempo, the signal wouldn’t help us. We call the play basically before the last play is even over. Before they even mark the ball, we call our play. Then they scramble to get a play called. They’re just trying to get their guys lined up. It wouldn’t do us any good. By the time someone would relay that to us, we’re already snapping the ball. So I don’t know where that came from. People do it. It’s not illegal. People do it all the time, but it’s usually people who play slower. People steal our signals all the time. But it’s hard to translate to the players because we’re going so fast. We didn’t do that.”

The Rebels’ offense had more success than most teams have had against a Saban-led Alabama team. Running backs Jerrion Ealy and Snoop Connor joined an elite list of players that rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns against Alabama during the Saban era.

“A-plus” Start For Corral

The Rebels’ offense is one of the top in the nation through three games, mostly due to the play of quarterback Matt Corral.

The sophomore has made an impressive jump from his freshman season to this year. Corral is currently ranked 16th in passing yards with 1,080 and just 309 yards behind Pittsburgh’s Kenny Pickett, who has played two more games than the Rebels have.

Corral is averaging 360 passing yards per game, placing him fourth in the Southeastern Conference behind Mississippi State’s K.J. Costello (389.3 ypg), LSU’s Myles Brennan (370.6) and Alabama’s Mac Jones (367).

When it comes to completion percentage Corral is the second best in the SEC, completing 76 percent of his passes. He is only behind Jones with a 79.5 completion percentage. Corral is only behind Florida’s Kyle Trask and Brennan in touchdown passes with nine.

Kiffin spoke highly of his quarterback after three weeks of assessment, especially with most of the offseason to prepare lost to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t want to rat poison the guy but A-plus,” Kiffin said of Corral’s play. “He’s made so many plays, bailed us out of different things. I don’t know, he was number one last week, but Mac’s probably number one now, but I’m sure they’re still one and two in the country in quarterback efficiency. He’s played lights-out, which is difficult. I don’t know many people would’ve expected that having no spring and in a quarterback competition. It’s not like he’s an established starter in the third year of a system. This is all new for him.”

Breakfast with Auburn

When Ole Miss returns home next week to host No. 15 Auburn, it will be an early start to the day. The SEC announced its Week 5 kickoff times for Oct. 24 on Monday, revealing the Rebels and Tigers will get the day started with an 11 a.m. CT kickoff on the SEC Network.