Q: Talk about the job Chris Relf did in the passing game tonight? "Chris came out early and we missed a couple of shot and then he hit a couple of shots. He did a nice job, set his feet throwing the ball. And I thought Chris played pretty well managing the game."
"And we're a pretty banged-up football team. Fortunately now we have a couple of weeks and can get ourselves healthy. And we made some silly mistakes. But for the most part I thought Chris did pretty well."
Q: He didn't run as much but was Ole Miss caught off-guard by his passing? "I think their gameplan was to take away the run early on and they had eight guys standing right there at the line of scrimmage, daring us to make plays down the field. And our guys did, they made those plays early in the game and I think that was critical for us."
Q: Talk about the play of LaDarius Perkins? "Perkins had a big night, a big night. He's an explosive football player. Chad Bumphis went down (broken collarbone) early, we're not loaded with playmakers. We have some guys that make plays but we're not loaded with playmakers right now, and LaDarius is one of our playmakers. So when Chad went down we needed him to step up, and he had a huge game and had some explosive plays that we needed."
Q: You had six plays of 33 or more yards and a couple of 71-yard plays… "That's good! Was one of them for a touchdown? We'd have some real playmakers if both of them were! No, I mean our guys did a good job. When we had the opportunity to go make those plays, the big plays in the first half, they made them."
"The one bad thing is we got up 31-9 and I was on our guys, I told them we cannot take our foot off the gas. I just felt on the sideline, our coaches, everybody, for some reason we put it into cruise control, we said we're good. And all of a sudden we find ourselves in a football game."
Q: Is that the game ball? "Yes, it is! I'm keeping this one. Dr. (Mark) Keenum decided, we gave the University the trophy back so he decided to give me a football in exchange!"
Q: Pernell McPhee talked about being undefeated in rivalry games, talk about his game? "He played great, great leadership. Hey, that's who you want, you need your leaders and your senior and your playmakers to make big time plays in the biggest games of the year. They did that tonight, he did that."
"We told them they were going to have to make stops at the end of the game and they made stops. That last drive there, just a huge stop of not even really letting them get the momentum and driving down the field."
Q: On the fumble play that was reviewed, you were so confident it would be overturned you had the punt team on the field already? "Well, when it was a fumble I looked at the jumbotron and it didn't look like it was much in question to me. But you never know, we don't have all the angles and I just saw the one quick view on the jumbotron. I'm in charge of punt teams so I got the punt team huddled up and made the defense huddle with the defensive guys."
Q: Other teams have gashed them for big plays, what did you see there? "When you stand eight guys at t he line of scrimmage, once you get through the line of scrimmage for us there were some big plays there to be made if you can get to the second level. Fortunately at different times we were able to get to that second level."
"They were not going to let us run the football, do our traditional running game. So we had to mix it up and do some different things and I think that allowed us to have those big plays."
"I think when the strength of your offensive is your offensive line and you're used to grinding it out like we've done all season, you look at it. Most of our skill players are young kids on the team. They had opportunities to make plays tonight. They were going to try to take our strength away, which is our offensive line, load everybody up so we couldn't have an advantage running the football. Fortunately those kids made the plays they needed to make."
Q: Your defense has made plays all year, was that the case on the last Ole Miss series? "Yeah, I would have loved to have run the clock out right there. Like I said, give them some credit, their kids played hard for four quarters."
Q: Was there a difference when you switched to Perkins after they got ready for Ballard? "I think all the attention to stopping Ballard up the middle certainly opens some things up for Perkins on the edge. And LaDarius is an explosive player, all year we'd loved to have given him the ball in the open field and we were able to do that some tonight."
Q: Talk about what Corey Broomfield did on the interception? "A big, big play. He got the interception, he should have had another one and the second one should have been much easier than the first one, it looked like! But he played with some confidence. I think our whole team played with some confidence tonight, they came in expecting to win the game."
"There was probably about a 12 minute span in the game where we just fell asleep and let them come back. And as we grow as a team and as a program we're not going to let that stuff happen."
Q: The series at the end of the half, you stop them and score real quick? "That was a big touchdown for us. You get into that situation right there, we're looking potentially for getting into field goal range. You like to get points, because we were going to get the ball to start the second half. To get that touchdown really kind of swung some momentum our way right before halftime."
Q: Did the Ole Miss penalty on the series change any thinking, after running for a short first down gain? "Yeah, it didn't really change our thinking. We still had the same plan, to get into range to score. But I think it kind of loosened up, that penalty almost put us close to field goal range at that point. So we felt more comfortable taking some shots because we were already where we wanted to be."
Q: How did you think the offensive line played? "At times good, there's some things we've got to clean up. that's two big defensive tackles in there, I bet when we watch the film we won some and we lost some. For us to be a successful team we've got to win a lot more than we lose up front."
Q: With the rivalry and your comments, did you ever tell the players to back you up? "Well, we say it to them, too! They know it, that's what rivalry games are all about. We're going to get their best shot every single year; and they're going to get ours. I promise you that, they're always going to get our best shot every year. That is something that is really important to me and we make an emphasis of it."
"There's a clock going up in our locker room that says 364 days to kickoff next year. And we will focus on that and winning and keeping our trophy next season."
Q: Is there any difference winning as you did last year and this year? "It's great to win it! I want the trophy, I'm glad we get to keep the trophy again this year."
"And I know one of my goals going into the season was the opportunity that we were going to go to Atlanta. We're going to get that opportunity now; maybe a couple of weeks later than we originally wanted! But it's great to have the trophy and get the opportunity to go play for some more."
"Last year was pretty good. This is pretty good, too! It's great for me, but it's even better because I love the opportunity for our seniors. These kids, since we showed up two year ago have done nothing but bought into what we've tried to tell them to do. We've had two senior classes finish as champions, and that to me is something special. I didn't recruit this senior class, they had to go through coaching changes and some change in philosophies. But you know what, instead of complaining they bought into it and said Coach, we're going to do what ever it takes, we're going to believe, and they've done that."
Q: What will you do this week? "We're going to hit the road recruiting, and try to get some more great players to come play for our great University. I think we've got a couple of award ceremonies this week, down in Jackson. But we won't practice this week, we're going to give our off. We won't start practicing until Friday, December the 10th? After finals. We'll lift some but we're not going to practice until after finals."
Q: At 8-4, where do you feel your program is headed? "We're in a pretty good place. I mean, we're building for the future what we want to do, what we want to be. We wanted to improve off of last season, we were 5-7 and battled in some really close games, some could have gone either way. This year we're in a lot of close games, we were in some games that could have gone our way and been an even better season. We could have dropped some close games and had it be worse."
"But I'm proud of the direction the program is headed in for us. Where here in this program our goal is to win SEC championships. 5-7 to 8-4 is good; and hopefully next year we improve on 8-4 and find a way to get ourselves to Atlanta."