Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

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Freeze said the team relishes the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country .

Alabama seems better and faster defensively than they've been. They're an explosive offense with the vertical passing team to go with the power run game. They're a typical Alabama team. 

Alabama's depth is better than most teams. Playing them early in the season is an advantage for Ole Miss because normally Ole Miss is still healthy. Unfortunately, the Rebels have already lost 3 for the season.

Confidence is a big part of stepping on the field with Alabama. Ole Miss will be confident when they step on the field Saturday. It's still a tall task though. 

You need some breaks when you play great teams. Ole Miss has had breaks go both ways. He mentioned the Kelly pass off a helmet last year as one that went for them and the onside kick Alabama recovered that went against them.

Alabama is built to stop the run, and Ole Miss has had troubles running the ball. Ole Miss still needs some dirty yards and run the ball enough to stay balanced. 

In 2012, Ole Miss matched Alabama physically compete with the Tide. The team drew confidence from that game and have built on it from there even though the scoreboard didn't show it initially. 

It's difficult to overcome the gap with Alabama because they are always stockpiling talent in recruiting. Ole Miss has closed the gap, but it's tough to completely close the gap. You have to stay healthy and go into the game with a good plan to have a chance.

They didn't get to work much on the secondary issues from Florida State last week because they had to get ready for the wishbone offense of Wofford.

Tony Conner was rusty in week one, but seemed like more himself last week. He didn't play that much against Wofford, but this week will be a good measuring stick in regards to where he's at physically.

Judd, Brazley, Pennamon, and Buford will all be needed at the RB position as the season progresses. 

Alabama's Jalen Hurt is similar to FSU's Deondre Francois. They have big arms and are athletic to hurt you with their legs. 

Rebels Handle Business, Turn Attention to the Tide

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Vaught-Hemingway showed off its nice facelift, but the game on everyone's mind wasn't taking place in the stadium this week. Next week the atmosphere will be a little bit different as Ole Miss goes for three-in-a-row against the Crimson Tide.

Ole Miss did what was necessary on Saturday against Wofford. The Rebels put the Terriers away early and coasted to an easy 38-13 victory with a lot of players getting on the field.

The Rebels faced a triple-option offense and a solid FCS team on a short week and handled the game in a business-like manner. Maybe it wasn't memorable, but those are the type of wins quality programs can accomplish. 

"Preparation was very difficult, especially for their offense," Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze said. "We couldn't practice cut-blocking. We lost a full night's sleep on Tuesday with plane rides back. It was a difficult week, and our kids came out with an edge to take control of the game."

Physically, the turnaround was difficult, but it's more impressive how focused Ole Miss was after an emotional loss just five days ago. The offense scored on its first five drives of the game, never letting Wofford hang around. 

"We're glad to get a win in our home opener in the new and improved Vaught-Hemingway," Freeze said. "I believe that's going to be a nice place to play in Saturday afternoon with one of these SEC rivals we have coming up in the near future."

We'll see just how much louder the Vaught is next week when the No. 1 ranked team in the nation rolls into Oxford. With an attendance of 64,232, Saturday was the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in Mississippi. Ole Miss-Alabama will undoubtedly surpass that number.

"It's a great opportunity," Freeze said. "It's not one we've been afraid to take on before. We kind of relish that opportunity. I have no idea how it's going to go, but we've got them at home. We have great respect for their program and what they've done. We look forward to getting ready for them."

The Rebels will need Chad Kelly to carry over his efficient play from Saturday. He fired off three first half TD passes and didn't turn the ball over. Ole Miss was also able to generate some offense on the ground, picking up 174 yards and averaging more than five yards a carry. 

Unfortunately, Ole Miss didn't escape the game injury-free. D.K. Metcalf suffered a broken foot on his second quarter TD catch. He'll likely miss the rest of the season and receive a medical redshirt. He had emerged as a weapon, especially in the red zone. 


Ole Miss-Florida State Sets ESPN Streaming Record

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Everyone knew that Ole Miss was going to be the center of attention on Labor Day. The Rebels definitely were.

Ole Miss-Florida State set the ESPN regular season college football streaming record with 854,000 unique views for more than 59 million total minutes watched. In total, more than 8 million viewers watched the Rebels and Seminoles across all platforms.

Those are the type of games in the spotlight that help build the Ole Miss brand even more and garner national attention as Ole Miss continues to compete at the highest level of college football under Hugh Freeze.

Pride of the South Halftime Show to be Streamed Saturday

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Even if you can't make it to Vaught-Hemingway, you can still watch the Pride of the South perform at halftime on SEC Network +. 

When halftime of Ole Miss' home opener against Wofford rolls around on Saturday, the band's performance will be available to stream live here. 

Band performances are one of the things that makes college football so special and unique. Now SEC Network is helping the fan at home join in on some of that fanfare as the streaming band performances will continue throughout the season.

In the SEC and at Ole Miss, It Means More

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Ole Miss is going on year five of locking the Vaught pregame. It still gives chills when the music hits with the team walking to the field. 

When the entire crowd of 60,000+ become silent to listen to a celebrity give the cue for Hotty Toddy, it's awesome and always will be. Sports and its traditions have that ability to get under your skin. It means more at Ole Miss and in the SEC.

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UMMC - Eli and Abby Manning made a personal pledge of $1 million to the Children's of Mississippi $100 million campaign to fund an expansion and update of the neonatal ICU, pediatric ICU rooms and surgical suites, imaging department, and outpatient clinic. 

It's not the first time Eli has patterned with the University of Mississippi Medical Center. He raised more than $2.5 million in partnership with Friends of Children's Hospital to open the Eli Manning Children's Clinics at Batson Children's Hospital. 

"Abby and I are the parents of three precious daughters," Eli said, "so we know that the health of your children means everything. We want every family to have the best quality care for their children close to home. That's why we opened the Eli Manning Children's Clinics at Batson Children's Hospital, and that's why we made this commitment to the future of pediatric care at UMMC."

So many times when you hear about celebrities, it's for something negative. Eli and his wife's contribution to sick children's health is a wonderful thing to hear about. Sick kids are heartbreaking to everyone and deserve all the help they can get. UMMC does wonderful work in Jackson. 

Ole Miss Had Chances Despite the Lackluster Play

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Ole Miss fell to Florida State in one of the most bizarre games I've ever seen. Ole Miss was dominating both lines of scrimmage in the first half. The offense was clicking and the defense was stuffing the Seminole game-breaker Dalvin Cook at the line.

The start was exactly what Ole Miss needed to knock off Florida State. The Rebels had put all the pressure on redshirt freshman Deondre Francois in his first start to make plays. It turns out he did.

A late drive in the second quarter from Francois and Florida State pulled the game back to two scores, and not much good happened from that point on for Ole Miss.

Obviously, Ole Miss wanted to win this game, and the way the game played out made the loss even more devastating from an emotional standpoint. Florida State was able to exploit some flaws of Ole Miss' team, but they are one of the most talented teams in the nation. Ole Miss' secondary looked disastrous at times after Ken Webster's injury, and Ole Miss never established anything close to a successful running game. Regardless, it's still not time to panic about this season yet. 

Ole Miss turned the ball over four times, and Chad Kelly did not have a game to remember by his standards. Given that scenario, most would have predicted Ole Miss would be lucky to keep it within four scores. Instead, the Rebels still had opportunities late in the game. 

The fact is, Ole Miss didn't play their best game by any stretch. They could not have played much worse in the third quarter. They turnovers immediately handed Florida State the lead and kept the defense out on the field. More than that, those turnovers gave FSU short fields and never let Ole Miss' DL truly pin their ears back on passes since the Seminoles' comeback was gifted to them. Still, the point remains that if Kelly hits Quincy Adeboyejo in the fourth quarter when he was open down the sideline, Ole Miss cuts the FSU lead back to two with the XP pending. It's very much a game at that point. 

Another key to remember about Ole Miss is Monday night proved that the Rebels' defensive line is the real deal. Breeland Speaks, D.J. Jones, Marquis Haynes, Issac Gross, and Victor Evans all especially gave Florida State's talented offensive line fits all night. Francois was pressured on nearly 30 percent of his drop backs, eight percent higher than the average for quarterbacks in week one. A defensive line like that makes it easier for the young guys in the secondary to get there feet under them in the coming weeks. 

Ole Miss-Florida State Officially Sold Out

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The game that's possibly the most anticipated matchup of week one is now officially a sell out. In fact, demand to get in the stadium to watch Ole Miss and Florida State is so high that Florida Citrus Sports released a small number of standing room only tickets.

"The interest in this game has been extraordinary, and we're excited to pack the house on Monday night," Florida Citrus Sports chief executive officer Steve Hogan said. "Florida State and Ole Miss have put Orlando at the center of the national conversation leading up to Labor Day. We can't wait to kick this game off in front of a capacity crowd and a national television audience on ESPN."

Capacity for Camping World Stadium is 65,000. The game will likely break the stadium's post-reconstruction attendance record of 63,113, set during last season's Citrus Bowl featuring Florida and Michigan.

For the fans still contemplating making the trip to Orlando, tickets are available on Stubhub as well as the standing room tickets on Ticketmaster. 

Ole Miss-Florida State Watch Party in The Grove

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If you can't make it to Orlando, you can still watch Ole Miss' season opener for the 2016 season with fellow Rebels in The Grove. The Student Activities Association is holding a watch party in The Grove for the Ole Miss-Florida State Labor Day showdown.

Attendees are invited to bring tents and chairs to make it a normal Grove affair. Setup can begin at 5 p.m. on Monday. There will also be giveaways and promotional items available. The game kicks off at 7 p.m.

Notes from Freeze's Press Conference

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-Freeze called the opener a tremendous task. These are the type of games he wants Ole Miss to be in to expand the Ole Miss brand. Freeze wanted to make Ole Miss relevant on the national level, and games like the opener do that. They're ready to put the ball down and play.

-He called FSU one of the top teams in the country and one the fastest teams he's seen defensively. 

-Freeze called FSU safety Derwin James one of the best safeties he's ever seen. From top to bottom, he said Florida State is one of the better teams Ole Miss has played in his tenure. 

-Freeze said Ole Miss has a football team that's capable of competing with anyone in the nation. He understands why people are predicting FSU to make the playoff because of the amount of talent they have, but the SEC prepares teams for those battles. He said his team will be ready. 

-Ole Miss has to be discipled with fits to stop Dalvin Cook from finding the gap. Cook reminds him of Georgia's Nick Chubb because of Cook's ability to make people miss in space. 

-D.J. Jones, Evan Engram, Chad Kelly, Issac Gross, Akeem Judd, Quincy Adeboyejo, and Robert Conyers have all stepped up as leaders during camp.

-D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Greg Little, Eric Swinney, Myles Hartsfield, Jaylon Jones, Jalen Julius, Benito Jones, Montrell Custis are all freshmen expected to get snaps. 

-Having Conner back changes Ole Miss. He's a leader and understands the game. They may limit some snaps in certain situations, but he makes them better even if he's at 90 percent.

-Ole Miss is comfortable with Rod Taylor at left tackle although he wishes he was a little bit longer. Freeze said he's done a nice job in fall camp. 

-Florida State has great CBs, but he's confident with his WR group against anyone. 

-Fadol Brown says his foot feels better, but won't know for sure until tomorrow during practice.

-Ole Miss practiced for the first time on Vaught-Hemingway's new grass on Sunday. 

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