Ole Miss BBVA Compass Bowl Press Conference Quotes

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OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Jan. 4, 2013

2013 BBVA Compass Bowl
January 4, 2013
Friday Press Conference Quotes

Head Coach Hugh Freeze

Opening comments
"We're thrilled. We're excited, and it's time to play. I know both teams feel that way. We've had an enjoyable week here in Birmingham, and the BBVA Compass people have been remarkable hosts, and the Sheraton people have been wonderful. I think our kids have enjoyed being around each other and the bowl experience. Obviously, the culmination of that would be playing tomorrow and getting a win for our football program, and that's what we've really turned our attention to over the last 24 hours and on into tonight in preparing for tomorrow. We're excited, thrilled to be here, playing at the Old Great Lady (Legion Field). So many great games have been played here, and hopefully our guys can rise to the occasion tomorrow and play their best football."

On having a month to prepare...
"From the coach's perspective, it's probably a little more unsettling than it is for the guys. You watch other teams and how they've performed, and some would say they haven't performed up to their ability, and it's almost like we're starting a new season again, because it has been quite a long time. That's from the coach's perspective, but you have to depend on your young men that you prepared to play 12 games this season. If they get the magnitude and the opportunity, and the leadership from guys like these two, then they're ready to play."

On importance of this game for the future of the program...
"I'll never make too much or too little of a win or a loss. I think when we're in the building stage of a program like we are, that could be dangerous. There's no question that winning tomorrow and finishing the year -- to me that I think our team overachieved -- and carrying the momentum into the end of the season, into spring ball, into next year, the expectations that will be raised next year for our team, I think it's very important. I don't think the expectations will change much if things do not work out tomorrow, but certainly a win tomorrow would help us continue the momentum that we have right now."

On accomplishments this season...
"As a coach, you live the mountaintops and the valleys every week. However our team performs, my emotions usually show that. I think we did a good job of being pretty even after those losses, and Bo did a good job of that during games. I think he would say that after games, `I can handle it pretty well'. We just tried to stay even throughout it. The highs, like winning the Egg Bowl, to give these guys 60 more minutes to play, certainly we've sat down, we've had time with all that comes with winning that game and with our state. We've enjoyed that momentum that we've had there."

On going against Pittsburgh...
"Once we got our sixth win, we kind of had an idea of where we would be slotted. You want to play a conference that is a BCS conference, because, not that there are not other quality teams, but that seems to add to the preparation. To see the way that Pitt finished the year in taking Notre Dame into three overtimes, we have great respect for their program, and I see a team that is very similar to ours, that plays hard, is well coached, does not turn the ball over, does not have penalties, and some of the things that we try to take pride in also. They're very sound in what they do, and they don't make a lot of mistakes. I think it's going to be a great test and a great football game for us."

14 Bo Wallace, So., QB

On being anxious to play after a month away...
"For me, getting here, you still feel like the game's so far away. Last night, when Tweets started rolling in, from fans who are coming and they tell you they're on the way, things like that, it sinks in that it's almost game time. You start getting that anxiety. We're really excited to come out here and start the game."

On looking back at this season's accomplishments...
"I think, for me, the success that we had that could have been so much more from the inexperience on our team. You go back and look at those games and you think about those three or four mistakes that you made that could have changed those games, and you think what our record could be. But we're excited to be where we are. Coach Freeze said he thinks we overachieved, and I definitely want momentum going into the next season and to get this win on Saturday."

On head coach Hugh Freeze...
"He totally changed the culture, I feel like. When you completely buy in, that's when you start winning games. And in the middle of the season, we bought in, and that's when we started becoming successful."

On playing this close to Oxford...
"For me, I'm excited to play wherever I play. I think for the fans to be so close and to have so many who want to come to this game, it's special for them, and it's special for us as players to see how many fans that bought tickets and want to be in Birmingham for the game."

4 Denzel Nkemdiche, Fr., LB

On being anxious to play...
"You get used to the season, playing a game every Saturday, in and out. Then you get this big break, and you just get hungry to get out there and play some more football. We're in this because we actually love the game, so we're making sure everybody on the team is hungry and that we play up to our expectations and do what we're taught, do what Coach Freeze tells us to do every Saturday."

On biggest difference between this season and last...
"The biggest difference is we're like a team now. We love each other, and we're starting to treat each other like brothers. The way that you're able to get success faster than people can expect it is within, and that's the next step, becoming a family and competing at the highest level. The closer you are, the better you do. It plays hand in hand, and that's pretty much been the biggest difference from this year and last year. The selfishness is completely out of the picture. Everybody's playing for each other, playing for the fans and playing for our coaches. It's a total turnaround."

On enjoying this season's accomplishments...
"Not yet. We have one more game to finish this season before we can actually look back on the season and our accomplishments and what we've done this season. So far we haven't looked back. We're just trying to get the next W tomorrow."

On head coach Hugh Freeze...
"Coach Freeze came in, we needed something new, we wanted something new, we wanted something different, we wanted to win. He came in and did it out of love -- he showed love. He's a player's coach. He's always there when you need him. He's not going to go easy on you. He's going to get the best out of you. I love playing for him."

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