Brother V. Brother

Ole Miss DL Coach Chris Kiffin and Alabama OC Lane Kiffin matched up against each other a year ago for the first time with "little brother" Chris getting the 23-17 edge in a thriller. Saturday's match in Tuscaloosa promises to be another barn burner and exciting head-to-head coaching conflict between brothers.

Chris Kiffin is, as he should, downplaying the angle that his Ole Miss defensive line will be going directly against older brother Lane Kiffin's Alabama offense.

And while this game is not "just another game" because of what it at stake for both teams, Chris is not looking at the brother versus brother slant.

"We talked Sunday, but it was just about tickets for the game. We won't talk or text until after the game. We usually text each other a few times a week normally, but not this week," said Chris. "We are both focusing on what our guys have to do for Saturday.

"Our family is very neutral. They just enjoy the game and cheer for both teams. Lane and I are different. Of course, we want to win."

With that out of the way, what about this matchup of Alabama's power, downhill attack versus the Rebs' touted defense?

"We will carry a personnel or two that matches up better with teams that try to run right at you, but we are a multiple defense that will use what we do best as well," said Chris. "We have been substituting liberally in the first two games, but this week it will depend on the flow of the game.

"A lot factors go into that decision. It's going to be late, so the humidity should be down and our starters should be able to play more than they have been in the first two games. Alabama does some tempo now, though, so we have to be ready for that and we are two-deep at every position across the front that I plan on playing in the game. How much will depend on how things are going and all the conditions. It will be just a feel for the game kind of thing."

The Rebels had some success in slowing down Bama backs last year, including big Derrick Henry, who is the featured back this year.

"We made them run laterally more. When that guy gets going downhill, he is a load. We have to swarm, we have to wrap up and we have to live up to the identity of the Landshark defense of 11 hats being around the ball," he noted. "Gap integrity will be important as well, but I think it will be more important against Kenyan Drake.

"He is the guy who jumps through different gaps. He's the guy who scares you because of his elusiveness, like Reggie Bush or Barry Sanders in style. He can make you miss and it's hard to get defensive players to hold their gaps as long as you sometimes need to against a guy like him. They want to go make a play and then all of a sudden, he has jumped back in the gap you just vacated."

Alabama is running more tempo now than in past years, which does not surprise Chris.

"It's just the evolution of football. If you can recruit the kind of players they can in quantity, why wouldn't you want to run more plays to get more of them involved?" he asked. "Schematically, they are different with TE O.J.Howard and the way they are playing him. It is a lot like how we use Evan Engram, which has helped in our preparation for Howard, but it's tough.

"We're excited. This is a great challenge.I'm sure Lane feels the same way."

So, in the end, this is not Kiffin v. Kiffin.

It's Ole Miss v. Alabama and neither Kiffin can wait.


OM Spirit Top Stories