No, not for Saturday’s 26-20 Outback Bowl loss to Ole Miss, but for the opportunity, the season, the moment.
“Thankful to be part of this, part of that change,” Indiana’s junior running back said. “It’s sad we didn’t cap off the year like we wanted.”
Scott paused in this Zoom moment. There was much to consider in a season that included a pandemic and a Top-10 national ranking. His 99 rushing yards and two touchdowns on Saturday gave him 586 yards and a third-straight season with 10 TDs.
“We’ve broken through. It’s just the start.”
Seventh-ranked Indiana finished 6-2 with plenty of accomplishments to appreciate.
Just not so much right now.
“Guys are upset,” kicker Charles Campbell said. “It’s tough to see. This could be some guys’ last game. Everyone is down.”
He, too, paused. Yes, he had set an Outback Bowl record for 50-yard field goals (2). Yes, his 53-yarder set an IU record for a bowl game.
But it wasn’t enough.
“I did my job, but I’m taking this hard. It’s a heart-breaking loss for sure.”
The Hoosiers pushed hard to avoid it.
They had a battered quarterback. Slipping receivers. Dropped passes. Bad throws. Hot and humid weather. Growing fatigue. A double-digit deficit. Turnovers. Cramping players.
Adversity came in all forms, and as Scott said, “We can’t have excuses on why we didn’t get the job done. It’s still our job to play and pull out the win.”
The Hoosiers nearly did. In a furious second-half comeback, they forged a pair of gut-check, 80-yard drives totaling 27 plays and 14 points for a 20-20 tie with six minutes left.
Ole Miss (5-5) needed two minutes to score a touchdown and miss an extra point.
For Indiana, it came down to this — four minutes to blast away 29 years of bowl futility.
At the end, it was this simple:
IU needed a stop and didn’t get it.
Ole Miss needed a stop, and did.
“I’m disappointed for our players,” head coach Tom Allen said. “They’ve been through so much. What an amazing season it’s been in so many ways. They’ve given so much. Worked so hard. I’m heartbroken for them they weren’t able to finish.
“This will hurt for a while.”
Quarterback Jack Tuttle played most of the game with a separated right (throwing) shoulder, the result of a series of hits. He played through it, finishing 26-for-45 for 201 yards, no touchdowns and one interception.
“(The pain) was there constantly,” he said. “I’ve got to find a way to make it happen.”
Allen said halftime X-rays showed Tuttle had a shoulder separation and not the feared broken collarbone. He could play, but it would hurt.
“It affected him,” Allen said. “He was a warrior. He played through some serious pain. He had to suck it up. He was still running and diving. He competed his tail off. He’s a tough kid.”
Added Scott: “For him to stay out there and get the job done, it shows he’s very strong and mentally tough. I appreciate him stepping up and being a leader.”
Receiver Whop Philyor was the busiest man in college football. He set an IU record with 18 catches for 81 yards. He also ran once for eight yards.
“He is a special player,” Tuttle said. “Getting him the ball was supper important.”
Ole Miss was without several key offensive players from a 40-point-a-game attack, but not without speed and skill. It had a quarterback (Matt Corral) ready for a big game (342 passing yards, 2 touchdowns) without throwing interceptions (he had zero after throwing for 14 during the regular season), and a head coach (Lane Kiffin) well prepared to maximize it. That included using back-up quarterback JR Plumlee as a receiver (5 catches, 73 yards).
The Rebels’ fast pace kept IU from substituting, and brought fatigue to a unit that had been limited in workouts in recent weeks because of COVID-19 issues.
Still, the Hoosiers held Ole Miss to 14 points below its average, and gave themselves a chance.
“Tempo played a factor,” linebacker Micah McFadden said. “A lot of guys were tightening up. It was tough to get subs in. They were going fast.
“We practiced for that, but there’s not much we could do about preparing for the heat and fatigue.”
Ole Miss opened the game with a 21-yard completion. A 35-yard pass play followed. The Rebels were inside the IU 5-yard line before settling for a 26-yard field goal.
IU countered with an opening 14-yard completion to Philyor before punting.
On Ole Miss’s next possession, cornerback Reese Taylor just missed a pick-6 and the Hoosiers forced a three-and-out, then got a 50-yard Campbell field goal for a 3-3 tie.
The Rebels came back with another field goal and then a touchdown pass for a 13-3 lead midway through the second quarter
A Tuttle interception ended a scoring threat, but the defense forced a punt to give the Hoosiers a final first-half chance – starting from inside their own 5-yard line.
They eventually punted, with Tuttle clutching his right arm in obvious discomfort.
IU ended the half by blocking a field goal for a 13-3 deficit.
Campbell opened the third quarter with that 53-yard field goal. Ole Miss responded with a touchdown for a 20-6 lead.
The Hoosiers went to tough-guy mode, driving behind a battered Tuttle. They got to the 3-yard line before Scott ran out of the Wildcat for a TD to start the fourth quarter. That made it 20-13.
Indiana got the ball back after the Rebels missed a 37-yard field goal. A crucial leaping third-down catch by receiver Miles Marshall, followed by an Ole Miss pass interference call on Ty Fryfogle, set up Scott’s second Wildcat formation touchdown run for a 20-20 tie with six minutes left.
Two minutes later, Ole Miss scored a touchdown, but missed the extra point.
Down 26-20 with 4:12 left, IU had the ball and a chance.
And then it didn’t.
“This was a season for the ages,” Allen said in a somber aftermath. “With all we’ve been through, it’s been so hard. Everybody has been through this.
“Our guys chose to play. This is a special group. It will lay a foundation for next year.”
As Campbell put it, “I’m ready to get back to work.”
Added Tuttle: “We’ll come back stronger.”
Courtesy for IUHoosiers.com
Outback Bowl Postgame Notes
Indiana vs. Ole Miss
Jan. 2, 2021
• No. 7/8 Indiana (6-2) fell short against Ole Miss (5-5) by a final tally of 26-20 in the 35th addition of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla.
• The Outback Bowl marked the second January bowl in as many seasons for the Hoosiers. IU has appeared in the postseason in four of the last six years.
• IU is 14-7 since the start of the 2019 season.
• Junior running back Stevie Scott III paced the Hoosiers on the ground attack with 19 rushes for 99 yards and two touchdowns, his 10th of the season and 30th of his career.
• Scott joins Anthony Thompson (1986-89) and Antwaan Randle El (1998-01) as the only Hoosiers to score at least 10 rushing touchdowns in three-straight seasons. He also becomes the fourth IU player to score 30-career rushing touchdowns.
• The second-team All-Big Ten selection jumped John Isenbarger (1967-69) for ninth on the career all-time rushing list at Indiana with 2,543 career yards.
• In addition to the 99 yards rushing, Scott added two catches for 34 yards, a season-high yardage total.
• Senior wide receiver Whop Philyor secured an Outback Bowl game, Big Ten bowl record, IU program record, career-best and game-high 18 receptions for 81 yards.
• The Tampa, Fla., native moved ahead of Courtney Roby (2001-04) into fourth on the career receptions all-time list with 180 for 2,067 yards (9th), the 10th wideout to accrue 2,000 career receiving yards.
• Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jack Tuttle completed 26-of-45 passes for 201 yards and one interception in his second career start. He added 26 yards rushing on nine carries.
• Junior safety Jamar Johnson led the Hoosier defense with nine total tackles and a career-high eight solo stops. He also added one pass breakup.
• Junior cornerback Jaylin Williams matched a career-highs with seven total tackles and six solo stops.
• Junior safety Devon Matthews recorded six tackles (4 solos).
• Junior linebacker Micah McFadden secured six total tackles, five solo stops, two TFLs, and one sack. The sack was the sixth of the season for the AP All-America third-team selection. McFadden has 7.5 career sacks.
• Junior linebacker Cam Jones racked up five tackles (4 solos), his third sack of the season (5th career), one TFL and one pass breakup.
• Junior cornerback Reese Taylor added four solo tackles and a pair of pass breakups.
• Redshirt sophomore linebacker Aaron Casey secured three tackles (2 solo) and one TFL.
• Redshirt senior defensive lineman Jerome Johnson totaled two tackles (1 solo) and a blocked field goal at the end of the first half. The first-team All-Big Ten selection is the first IU player to block a kick since Jacob Robinson at Maryland on Oct. 28, 2017.
• Redshirt sophomore kicker Charles Campbell connected on both of his field goal attempts (50, 53) to improve his season mark to 10-of-11. He is 12-of-13 for his career. He also converted his lone PAT try and is 24-of-24 this season on point after tries and 25-of-25 in his career.
• Campbell is a perfect 3-for-3 from 50-plus yards in his career, including the Indiana bowl record, Outback Bowl record and career-best effort of 53 yards. The kick tied the third-longest field goal ever made by a Hoosier.
• The Jackson, Tenn., native became the second Hoosier to kick multiple 50-yard FGs in the same game (Chris Gartner at Kentucky, 9/30/72).
• Graduate student punter Haydon Whitehead registered three punts for 165 yards (55.0 yards per punt) with a long of 64 yards, a season-best effort. He pinned two punts inside the 20-yard line and boomed two kicks over 50 yards.
• Sophomore long snapper Sean Wracher has snapped in all 21 career games played at Indiana.
Indiana Head Coach Tom Allen
Just want to start by congratulating Ole Miss and Coach Kiffin, all his team, the way they played, made enough plays to come out with a win. Just really disappointed for our players. They’ve been through so much. Golly, just been an amazing season for so many different reasons. They’ve been through so much, given so much, worked so hard, sacrificed so much to come to a bowl game. Just heartbroken for them they weren’t able to finish with a win. Very proud of our guys, but this one is going to hurt for a while. Questions.
Q. What do you possibly tell your players after a game like this? Such a great season, then to end this way for a second year in a row. How do you try to lift their spirits? What message do you give them?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, right when you get done playing a game like this, I don’t know if it’s really about lifting their spirits. I love them regardless of the outcome of the game. They have to check in their own heart how they prepared. Only they really know that. I thought they did a lot of good things for sure in this preparation process, even though it’s been an unusual last few weeks and challenging, to get them physically ready with all the things we’re going through. At the same time you got to take it like a man when you fall short. Didn’t make enough plays. Talked to them about the turnovers that we had, the two that we had on offense,
none that we got on defense, minus two. That’s how you win football games, creating those takeaways, being plus in that category. At the same time you don’t dwell on the fact that it’s going to hurt and it should hurt if you’re invested a whole lot like these guys have, sacrificed a whole bunch to be in this position. It’s a tough one, for sure. Like everything else, everything you go through helps create the person that you are, the positives and the negatives, the opportunities that you have that you don’t take advantage of. At the end of the day I’m the head coach, this loss falls on me. That’s the way it works. I accept that. That’s what makes it sting so much because I wanted it for these kids so bad.
Q. The last drive you started moving the ball again, then you had the sack. Was that the killer do you think?
ALLEN: Yeah, really put us in a bad spot. Tough to overcome that. Got to try, do what you can. Had been running the ball well, being able to create those plays. That to me is where it kind of got off schedule, the first snap of the last series, then the sack. Not going the right direction. Fourth and 18 is tough. They’re playing two man with that, tough windows to throw in, a long ways to go for a quarterback run or a checkdown throw. Makes it challenging, but we got way behind the chains in that last drive and that’s what killed us.
Q. You feasted all year on the blitzing, the turnover creation. They were going with the quick, short passing game the whole time. Was it difficult to try to adjust around that, force them into anything different?
ALLEN: Yeah, I think that and the tempo. To me the tempo is really the hardest part. We rely so much on disguising things. It’s hard to do that because you’re just trying to get lined up to play a snap. You have to give them different looks, different things to be able to match up with them. Yeah, I just thought they were finding holes, going fast, and they do. Takeaways… They were trying to keep us from having chances to do that. There wasn’t a lot of those. We had more opportunities in the first half I thought to get some of those. Some RPOs early on, hard to play the way we play. But in some ways I know we still — that last drive is kind of the one. Gosh, can’t give that long pass play up. Just had a mistake there from one of our better players. At the same time I thought the guys competed. There was no question. Tempo with the heat, a tough combination. You got to play a lot of guys, got to fight through it. But we just needed one more takeaway, needed a takeaway. Not having any, it’s just not how we’ve been successful. Whether it’s a bowl game or regular season game, you got a formula for success. When you don’t stick with that formula, oftentimes you don’t get what you want.
Q. This isn’t the first time this season where the offense has started slow. There were some dropped passes, a few penalties. How much do you think the rust played into it, hadn’t played for a month?
ALLEN: Yeah, I mean, you’re worried about that. I was worried about that. We haven’t played for four weeks. It’s hard. That’s long. Sometimes you see in bowl games of the normal system where you would sometimes have that much time off. It really truly was a window of time there where we did not practice at all, didn’t do anything with our guys when it first occurred. Yeah, I think it always seems to hurt the timing of the offense. Still, no excuses. You got to catch balls. You got to execute. Yeah, I think it kind of showed up more early, then got into a rhythm, did some better things. Chuck did a great job kicking big field goals, but we want touchdowns. You just need one more. Q. On the final drive, you were moving the ball, running the ball. You got away from that on the first down play. Was there a reason to move away from the run? Did you feel like the pass might be there? TOM ALLEN: It’s a read. So the quarterback has that read. Actually, after the play I was like, Why didn’t he hand it off? You’ve agreed to give a read. You don’t criticize and second-guess. He thought it was there. To me, that’s what we probably should have done. Should have done that. That’s what the read is there on that. He thought he had the leverage to get the ball out on the perimeter to try to get four yards or five yards. But, yeah, I actually agree with that, should have.
Q. Specifically about Jack, his performance, how much do you think the shoulder bothered him? How much did that take him and Nick away from what they wanted the game plan to be?
ALLEN: It definitely affected him. I thought he was a warrior today. He played through some serious pain. Since it’s the end of the season, want to be honest about that, he had a shoulder separation in his throwing shoulder. Did an x-ray on it. Thought he might have broken the collarbone at first. That was not the case. So basically he just had to kind of suck it up. It was very painful. But it was his throwing shoulder, so I think it affected some of our throws, some of the things we thought he could do with that situation. Even though when he had it, he’s still running, diving. He competed his tail off. But there’s no question, he was dinged up pretty good, just trying to fight through it. He’s a tough, tough kid.
Q. Do you have any regrets about the way the whole uniform situation was perceived as a slight against the Big Ten?
ALLEN: I wrote a statement about that. That’s pretty much it. The statement is what I wanted to say. That’s how I’m going to end it.
Q. Bigger picture here, what are you going to say to your seniors as you watch them leave? What do you want the rest of the locker room to take away from this entire season?
ALLEN: Well, I mean, this has been a season for the ages. I mean, all we’ve been through, it’s been so hard. Everybody has been through this. All the teams that decided not to play in bowl games because they knew their guys had been through so much already. Our guys chose to play, wanted to play. But that was the process we had to work through because there were just some tough things there with all that. They had been here for a long, long time, hadn’t been with their families, knew they weren’t going to be able to go home for Christmas, all those things. Been a challenging year. Even though we’ve done some amazing things, got chances to win a lot of great games that this group will always be remembered for. They are a special group. To lay a tremendous foundation for next year, I’m excited about next year. A lot of those seniors are going to make a decision, give them an opportunity to come back. Some will, some won’t. We’ll know for sure here in the next couple weeks. Either way we’re going to love and support them, whatever they feel is best for them and their future, we’ll talk that through with them. Bottom line, a special group of guys. Love each and every one of them, respect them, love what they’ve given to the program. Unfortunate, they didn’t get to have a Senior Day. Nothing has felt normal at all. First time we had fans other than parents at a game. Great to hear the crowd cheering. They missed all that. All these big wins we’ve gotten at home or on the road, to have nobody there for a lot of those, it’s tough. But this is a special group. I’m proud of these guys. Just want them to know that. The guys that choose to move on, we’ll wish them nothing but great things in the future.
Indiana Player Quotes
Micah McFadden, Linebacker
Q. Tom Allen mentioned the tempo, to deal with that. From a player’s perspective being on the field, what was it like to deal with that, with the heat added onto it?
MCFADDEN: I think that definitely played a factor in the game. I saw a lot of guys tightening up towards the end of the game. Some even towards the middle of the game. Yeah, it was tough to get subs in. Yeah, they were definitely moving in on us, going fast. We kind of knew they were going to do that. We practiced to prepare, but there wasn’t really much we could do to prepare for the heat, the exhaustion and fatigue at the end.
Q. On the blocked field goal, did you realize you might have been able to return it or were you just trying to take a knee?
MCFADDEN: At first, I was kind of thinking I couldn’t return it so I took a quick knee just to end the half. I knew there was one second left on the clock, we weren’t going to have another play. I really thought if I returned it, there would be some penalty or something. But it wasn’t.
Q. What is so difficult about defending Matt Corral? What makes him so difficult to contain?
MCFADDEN: He’s definitely elusive. He creates plays with his feet, can get the ball down the field, just keep plays alive, which played a factor in this game, helped them win the game.
Q. The last drive, how difficult is it for you as a defensive player to see that happen? What do you remember of some of the mistakes that might have happened?
MCFADDEN: Yeah, I mean, you want to motivate as much as you can. That’s exactly what we did. But it’s also difficult to watch. Wish you could be out there. You’re not on the field the last important plays of the game. We had it in our hands before that. We shouldn’t have let them drive down the field and score their final touchdown. Can’t take any of that back now.
Q. Talk about the toughness of Jack Tuttle today. Coach Allen talked about how he had a separated shoulder in his throwing shoulder. Is that something you knew?
MCFADDEN: Yeah, he’s a tough son of a gun, for sure. I didn’t know that shoulder was popped out. I think a little bit after halftime or before, I saw him grabbing at that shoulder. I could tell there was something up. But I don’t think any player knew it was out of place or anything like that. I already knew he was tough before that. That just adds on to it. That guy’s a baller.
Q. For you it’s a chance to come home, play in front of some fans. How much is that something you tried to feed off of?
MCFADDEN: Yeah, I mean, it was cool to be home, play in front of a semi-full crowd, hear the roar. It was really exciting. Glad we got to do it one time this year.
Q. Tackling was something you were really clean with most of the year. Do you feel you tackled up to your standards today as a group?
MCFADDEN: No, definitely not. I don’t know the number, but there were quite a few missed tackles. I think the grass conditions played a bit of a factor in that. It’s also guys getting their cleats in the ground when they’re going tempo, getting set up to make a play.
Charles Campbell, Kicker
Q. You had two 50-yard plus kicks, Outback Bowl records, new records for longest field goals. How comfortable were you kicking on this field in these conditions today?
CAMPBELL: So I grew up on a grass field kicking back at my high school. We got turf I think after I left. I mean, I like grass better than turf. When you have a snapper and holder like I do, Sean Wracher and Haydon Whitehead, they make it like a walk in the park.
Q. Obviously at the end of the day your job is to kick field goals. If you can get more touchdowns, you might have a better chance. How does it feel to see your teammates not quite be able to get there as a team?
CAMPBELL: It’s a heartbreaking loss, for sure. I mean, I just want to help. I did my job, but it wasn’t enough in the end. I mean, I’m taking the loss pretty hard. I live over two hours away from Ole Miss, so I had some friends from my high school that went there, some buddies on the team. Just really wanted to win. I’m kind of happy but not really. I’m just upset about this loss.
Q. Nobody is thinking too much to the future, but guys have talked about Haydon as somebody they really see as a leader. Do you feel maybe there’s kind of an onus on you thinking to next year to step into that role yourself?
CAMPBELL: Yeah, so one of the things I said I wanted to work on this year was my leadership. Haydon took our specialists group to a different level this year, I respect him so much. He was like hands down all year the leader of this. He left some big shoes to fill. I want to take on that role and I want to take our special teams group to a different level.
Q. You had the two Purdue games that came and went. How difficult was it for you guys to get through this last month with all the stops and starts?
CAMPBELL: I think it’s been pretty difficult. Everyone’s fired up to go out and play Purdue, then play in the crossover game. To see our last two games not being played, it was upsetting. But Ole Miss is a great team, we got to play in a great bowl. In the end it was good.
Q. Can you take us inside the locker room, what it’s like in the last couple of minutes, the atmosphere?
CAMPBELL: Guys are upset. Everyone’s upset for the older guys. We don’t know if they’re coming back or not. It’s just tough to see. This could be some guy’s last game. Everyone is pretty down. But, I mean, I’m ready to get back to work and come back and win games.
Stevie Scott III, Running Back
Q. The running game got going a little bit in the second half. What were some of the keys to make some plays on the ground?
SCOTT: I feel like we started running a little bit tempo offense. We noticed that the defense was getting a little tired. We just tried to play to our advantage, just try to get the run game going, keep getting downhill to set up play-action.
Q. We learned from Coach Allen that Jack had a separated shoulder. Were you aware there was anything wrong with Jack? How much does that prove something about Jack in terms of his toughness?
SCOTT: I didn’t actually really even notice till I seen one of his passes was kind of short to Whop. I asked him what was wrong. He said his shoulder was a little messed up. For him, he just stay in, still try to get the job done, be a leader, be our starting quarterback. It just shows that he’s very strong and mentally tough. I really appreciate Jack for everything he’s done this season stepping up, especially when Mike going down, him trying to be that great guy he is, being a leader.
Q. How much do you think that slow start had to do with missing some practice time for the whole team? Did you think the refs sometimes blew the whistle a little bit early on some of your runs?
SCOTT: Man, you know, especially me being a running back, just moving the pile forward, that’s something we like to do. That’s something that the O-line loves to go. Got me a little frustrated they was blowing the whistle so quick, we were still playing ball.
Q. The missed practices because of the COVID situation, might that have played a part in the first half rustiness?
SCOTT: Definitely, I feel like it’s half and half. You can’t really have excuses on why we didn’t get the job done, why we didn’t play. Definitely COVID played a little part. It’s still our job to go out there and play no matter what the circumstances is, just try to pull out that win.
Q. I know it’s probably hard to answer right after a game, but when you go back and look at everything that’s gone on this season, how special is it for everything that’s gone on?
SCOTT: I’m just so thankful and happy just to be a part of a changing program like this, to be that change. It’s definitely a great feeling. We definitely sad we didn’t cap off the year like we wanted to. It’s just a start. I feel like we’ve broken through. For this next year upcoming, we have to continue doing what we started this year. Definitely have to use this bowl game and last bowl game as double motivation as before. Two years back-to-back two years we lost the bowl game.
Q. Were you surprised it took you guys as long as it did to establish that running game today?
SCOTT: I wasn’t really surprised. I always knew we had it. It was something that’s a mental thing for the running backs and for the O-line just to lock in, do their assignment. I feel like we always have one, some games it just really wasn’t there. I feel like today it definitely came to play in the second half. We tried to take advantage as much as we could.
Q. You mentioned Jack’s toughness. How did you see him grow up in terms of his decision making, rhythm with the offense as this game wore on?
SCOTT: Really for Jack, Jack is the type of guy, he’s excited. You know what I’m saying? You just have to tell him to calm down, just calm down and let the game flow. I feel like once Jack calmed down and let the game come to him, going out there and being a play-maker, I think the rest, he did whatever he had to do, just go out there and make plays.
Jack Tuttle, Quarterback
Q. Coach Allen told us you had a separation in your shoulder. What level of pain would you say you were dealing with during the course of the game? What drives you to continue to play out there?
TUTTLE: Yeah, I mean, there’s no excuse, right? But, yeah, it sucks. Like I just said, it’s for my team. I got to find a way to get the job done. I love them. We’re going to come back stronger.
Q. What were you able to do between halftime and the time you could get on the sideline to mitigate some of it? How much was constant versus how much was triggered by certain throws, the pain?
TUTTLE: It was just kind of there constantly. Like I said before, it sucks. I got to find a way to make it happen.
Q. The two plays that got you in the third and fourth and 18 situations on the last drive, you throw to Whop, was that a read on your part? The sack, what did you see there?
TUTTLE: Yeah, I think on third down I tried to do a little too much. Should have thrown the ball away there. The fourth down, I had to give somebody a chance. I was running out of time. Just didn’t work out.
Q. When did you injure your shoulder?
TUTTLE: I can’t remember specifically, sir. I think it was early on.
Q. You had a great connection with Whop today. Talk about what you were seeing with him.
TUTTLE: Whop is a special player. He’s a really special player. I think all these guys, these receivers, are phenomenal. Getting him the ball is super important. That’s really it. That’s all I can say, just great player.
Q. Trying to get some shots downfield, how tough was it to be able to hook up with Ty Fryfogle throughout the course of game? Was it something defensively they were doing?
TUTTLE: Yeah, Ty was doing a good job. I mean, he had a lot of PI calls on him, I thought. There were a couple that were on me. I just got to put it in a better spot for him.
Q. Through the course of this game, early you were hitting short stuff, some misses, then managed to get a rhythm. How did you find, develop a rhythm in the course of the game, learn more of what you were capable of against that defense?
TUTTLE: Yeah so, obviously, didn’t play our best at all. I feel like we could have come out stronger. Would have could have should have, right? Just got to be better, improve, grow from it.
Ole Miss Head Coach Lane Kiffin
Really an awesome day for us to come down here, obviously out a lot of players, a starter on defense and I guess four — our most four productive players in the receiving game on offense. Got to come away with a win versus a top-10, -11 team in the country, was really awesome. Credit to our players, and we said, look around the country, there’s teams that are stepping up with players out, there’s teams that are making excuses that they don’t have players, so we want to be that team that stepped up, so it was awesome to see, and really cool for our guys. Seniors that have been here four or five years that hadn’t been to a bowl game. Really special.
Q. I imagine it’s kind of a daily double for you today, the school announces you’re getting a new contract and then you win a bowl game in dramatic fashion. Pretty good day in your football career?
KIFFIN: Again, to win a bowl game after five years, not being to one, you know, contract extension, showing both sides’ commitment to doing this thing, and like we said in the release, just getting started. It happened to get done this morning. It had been in the works for a while, and really good timing. Like I said, just getting started.
Q. After all the accolades your offense has gotten all year, how happy do you feel for those guys on the other side that it was them that kind of stepped up to secure this?
KIFFIN: Really happy. You know, we talked about it all week, we’re going to need that. We’re not going to go score 60 points. You just can’t do that without all those weapons, and versus a team that shuts people down. I think they had a shutout last week, whatever, seven points or something. So this is a really good defense, and you’re down a lot of players, so we knew it was going to be a struggle, and it was great to see the defense play like they did.
Q. John Rhys making those big plays at the end of the game, the 44-yarder but also the 3rd down catch that was contested. What did you think about him and him stepping up in that way?
KIFFIN: I think that showed obviously we were down receivers. I think we were down to four scholarship receivers, and so practicing him all week, so for a guy to only play one week at receiver, come in, dropped the first one — he’s right here, so we can make fun of him. But the 3rd down play was awesome. There was pass interference and he caught it, then obviously the big play after that. Just a remarkable kid to be able to do that. You just can’t do that; this isn’t like Pop Warner. We’re in major college football playing a top-10 team. To just go play receiver for one week and go in and make plays is really special.
Q. (On finishing the game.)
KIFFIN: We had been in a lot of these, should have won two for sure where we had the ball in four-minute and then we gave them the ball back and didn’t stop them and had the ball in two-minute. So we were able to do that today on both sides, scored and then stopped them. So it was good to see and hopefully springboards us into doing that in the future.
Q. What do you feel like a win against a team like that does for the future of this program and this team?
KIFFIN: Well, I just think it’s exciting for recruits, for fans especially. Our fans have been through some rough years here lately, so it’s awesome to win the Egg Bowl and then win a bowl game. That’s about as good as it gets in year one, and now we’ve got to get better.
Q. Coach, to follow up a little bit on that, how big is it to win a bowl game when it comes to recruiting, especially when no one has been able to come to your campus?
KIFFIN: Well, I think it’s normally a little bit bigger because it used to be we hadn’t signed everybody until February, but we’re like 90, 95 percent done, so it’s a lot more for the next year, and you see that all the time. So like a team wins the National Championship, the impact is a lot of times a year from now in recruiting, so hopefully this is.
Q. When you talk about people opting out and everything and that the bowl is meaningless, there’s a bunch of guys in your locker room that don’t think this game is meaningless, do they?
KIFFIN: No, I was like, I think they won the Super Bowl the way they acted, so it was awesome to see, and we celebrated it. A very hard year for a lot of people. It was a cool moment.
Q. Lane, after the defense gives up those two touchdowns back-to-back, what do you and the coaches tell the players before they go out for that last drive to try and make the stop and win the game?
KIFFIN: Stop them. Don’t give up another touchdown. That’s about it. But really we just revert back to the way they were playing early. You guys have stopped them the whole game, so let’s do it again. This is what you worked so hard for in the off-season.
Q. What specifically was the defense doing differently today that maybe you hadn’t seen from them most of the season?
KIFFIN: Explosive plays. I think we really limited explosive plays today and made them drive the length of the field and forced a long field goal and did a good job that way.
Q. It kind of gets lost, but Casey Kelly had six catches in the first half, the touchdown. This is a guy that stepped up in place of Kenny when he opted out. What have been your thoughts about him and how he’s really stepped up to the plate?
KIFFIN: Great job. We talked to those guys last night in the meeting about these are guys that haven’t played a lot, just like John at receiver. All of them want to play more, and now they get a chance to play, and they made plays today, and it was awesome to see.
Q. Lane, could you talk about the job Henry Parrish and Snoop and even Kentrel Bullock did today at running back without having Jerrion Ealy?
KIFFIN: A really good job. You’re talking about really young guys, a sophomore and two true freshmen playing, so it was great to see, against a very good defense that’s very complicated, does a lot of things. And people have struggled against them. You look at what people have done, outside of Ohio State a lot of people haven’t moved the ball at all.
Q. What about Casey Kelly moving ahead? He had a big catch against LSU, big day today. Does that make you feel better about your tight end position going into next season?
KIFFIN: It does. There’s been guys stepping up, so Casey has done a good job. We told these guys, you’re really good players, you just haven’t had an opportunity to play because there were guys in front of you. So it was really good to see guys step up.
Q. He’s still a non-scholarship player; is that right?
KIFFIN: He is.
Q. Going back to the contract extension, can you tell us a little bit what made you want to sign that extension this morning?
KIFFIN: We had just been talking about it for a while, and just really love it here, love the direction of the program. Keith has been amazing to us, has a great plan for the future here, and we’re on the same page about we’re just getting started. We want to build a championship program, and there’s a lot of things we need to do to do that.
Q. Just the way Matt has matured this season, it seemed like Indiana was giving a lot of those same drop-eight looks that he struggled with early this season. How did you see him progress from struggling to kind of being MVP today?
KIFFIN: I think the numbers show, 31 of 45 shows patience. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to learn from your mistakes. Again, we’re talking about a sophomore, so to do what he’s done, outside of two games, has been as good as anybody in the country.