By Adam Brown
Ole Miss fell to No. 5 Florida 51-35 in Head Coach Lane Kiffin’s opener at the helm of the Rebels in an offensive shootout.
“We had a lot of chances to make plays early and change the outcome,” Kiffin said. “We didn’t do that, and that is a top ten, top-five team in the country. If you are going to beat those guys you can’t make the mistakes we made. Now, we have to go on the road and find a way to get to 1-1.”
The Rebels offense was explosive against the Gators, putting up a total of 613 yards with 443 of them coming through the air. Both teams put up over 1,250 yards of total offense.
Ole Miss found themselves down by two scores early in the fourth quarter and had a roughing the passer penalty on third down that would result in continuing Florida’s drive and momentum.
“I think the biggest momentum changer, you know, was the roughing the passer,” Kiffin said. “And so that kind of puts the pressure back on them… So, you know, really a ton of momentum change on that. I think there was a lot of offense, and we didn’t get the ball back until four minutes… and then go and score.”
“In order to beat teams like that you have to play almost prefect,” Kiffin said.
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Corral passed for 395 yards with three touchdowns in the game. He also carried the ball 13 times for 50 yards.
“Matt played really well,” Kiffin said. “Because we have not done so well in the passing game in the last couple of scrimmages. It was great to see against a team that people don’t usually do that to. They are always good on defense and give you issues with their players. So it was good to get the execution.”
Junior wide receiver Elijah Moore led the team in receptions with 10 for 227 yards, the second-most in a single game in Ole Miss history.
“I thought Elijah was special from watching film on him last year,” Kiffin said. “You have gotta work harder than anybody in the country, because (he) is going to shatter the school record for catches in a year. We’ve done that every place that we have been, and if he had a full schedule this year from what you saw from today, he would have done that.”
Ole Miss defense had trouble containing Florida’s quarterback Kyle Trask, who passed for 416 yards and six touchdowns. The Gators quarterback connected with wide receiver Kyle Pitts eight times for 170 yards and four touchdowns.
“Those are video game stats. So a lot of credit to him,” Kiffin said. “You know, the tight end was unbelievable. You know, two of the touchdowns he’s double-covered on, on the call.”
The Landshark defense was led by Keidron Smith, who finished with 12 tackles, followed by Jacquez Jones and Jaylon Jones, who combined for 15 tackles.
In this game, play in the red zone was key as Florida went 5-for-5 and the Rebels finished going 4-for-8, according to Kiffin.
Ole Miss returns to action next Saturday as they travel to the Blue Grass State to take on the No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT on SEC Network.