OXFORD, Miss. — Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin didn’t steal Alabama’s defensive signals on Saturday. And he would’ve had no use for them even if he got them.
Alabama coach Nick Saban was flummoxed after his defense allowed 48 points and 647 yards in a 63-48 win over Ole Miss. So flummoxed, he opined that maybe Ole Miss knew what Alabama was planning to do.
“It seemed like everything we did, they had an answer for,” Saban said Saturday. “I’m not sure if they had our signals or what. But that’s not anything unusual. It seemed like any time we called something they had the best thing they could call against it. They had a really good plan.”
Speaking with the media on Monday, Kiffin debunked Saban’s theory.
“If you understand tempo, signals wouldn’t help us,” Kiffin said. “We call a play basically before the last play is even over. Before they mark the ball, we call our play. Then they scramble to get their 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.”
Kiffin said he’s never known Saban’s defensive signals, even when he was Saban’s offensive coordinator from 2014-16. Besides, when Kiffin worked at Alabama the Crimson Tide’s defensive coordinators were Kirby Smart and Jeremy Pruitt, now the head coaches at Georgia and Tennessee. Signals and terminology have likely changed across four years and a couple coaching changes.
Saban wasn’t the only person who thought Ole Miss knew what the Alabama defense had planned. Linebacker Dylan Moses was asked about whether he thought Ole Miss had stolen the Crimson Tide’s signals and Moses replied “I definitely do.”
Ole Miss ran for 268 yards Saturday, the most an Alabama defense had allowed since the last time the Crimson Tide played Ole Miss. Ole Miss threw for 379 yards, the most an Alabama defense had allowed since facing Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow of LSU last season.
Ole Miss’ 647 yards of total offense are the most any Alabama defense has allowed in a game ever.
Kiffin credits his players and philosophy for those achievements, not any advantage gleaned from knowing which plays the defense was going to run.
“People do it,” Kiffin said. “It’s not illegal. People do it all the time. It’s usually people that play slower. People steal our signals all the time. But it’s hard to translate that to the players because we’re going so fast. We didn’t do that. It is what it is. It doesn’t make any sense if you understand how we play.”
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