Media Day Press Conference
Ole Miss Football Media Day

Aug. 1, 2014

BLOG: Building Depth and Staying Healthy

As Ole Miss players reported to campus on Friday, the Rebels held their annual media day at the Manning Center. Players and coaches met with reporters and took pictures as fall camp begins. Below is a transcript of Hugh Freeze and Bo Wallace's press conferences.


Opening statement…
“After hearing Ross (Bjork) talk about Chucky (Mullins) and the last thing he’s really known for “it’s time”, we’re excited to say that it’s time to get into our football season here at the University of Mississippi. Our kids are excited, along with our staff, our fans and everyone around our program. We call this the journey. This is year three of the journey. We can’t wait to get started out on the field. It’s been a great offseason of work led by Paul Jackson, who we’re blessed to have, leading our offseason strength and conditioning. We’re also pleased with the academic achievement and improvements that we’ve had in that regard. Year three of the journey is the first time that I can stand and say today before you guys that on day one of camp everyone is eligible. We’re not scrambling around trying to get someone eligible at this point, which is a great testimony to our academic support staff and the job that they’ve done. Along with all of those things, we’re thrilled with the vision of our administration led by Dr. (Dan) Jones and, of course, Ross, who continues to improve things around this great place. You get to see some of that even today and he continues to help our kids hopefully see the vision of our administration and our coaching staff so that we can become the best that we can be here at the flagship university, in regards to being relevant in our area of academic achievement and getting our degree and also competing in the Southeastern Conference, which obviously if you’re competing there you’re relevant. That’s our goal this year. We’re excited to get going. We’ve got a complete staff back. That speaks volumes for this place and our sport. We are very much like minded. Our families enjoy being together. We just had our last little get together, which is our staff retreat up at Pickwick Lake. We had our annual softball game. The husbands and the sons play the wives and the daughters. It was a great, great game. The husbands came from behind and won 5-4 in the last inning. It was very competitive. That’s what we want from our team this year is to be super competitive. We’re excited to get everything going.”

On goals for August practice…
“Developing the depth more. More depth at key positions. Staying healthy, which is a quandary in my mind that I go through every single day of being fast and physical in spring. I couldn’t be more pleased. Now, we really feel like we have a team that can be good. Hopefully we can go from good to great. That changes if you have injuries. The line that you worry about, particularly with us still having some depth issues, is how do you get done what you need to do and develop depth and create a competitive, juiced practice and still stay as healthy as you can. We have to create some more depth. We know what some of our guys can do. Some guys, physically, I really like where they are but they need to develop some mentally. We have to put them in some adverse situations and see how they respond because they’ll be in some very soon, August 28th to be exact. Our theme this year is “all in.” It comes from a book I read. Our staff has gone through the book this summer. Now it’s time for us to translate what we’ve taken from it to our kids and show them what the characteristics are being all in. If we can get the percentage to be all in up in the 80s and 90s, we have a chance to be a special team.”

On injuries and moving positions…
“Chief Brown will be out for the year. That’s very unfortunate for him. Christian Morris is ready to go. The only other one that may not be able to go day one would be Woody (Woodrow Hamilton). He will do some things. He will be at practice and will be dressed out. Can he go full tilt live? I’m not sure. We’re going to evaluate him in indo and see how he responds. We feel good about where he is, but we don’t want to rush it. C.J. Moore is going to start at defensive back at rover or husky. D.K. Buford will be at husky. Jeremy Liggins will be a tight end.”

On Laquon Treadwell and the other wide receivers…
”Treadwell moving outside is his natural position. He’s a very physical blocker, which helps us on the edge. We’re going to continue to move him around. He’ll be a primarily outside guy. We’ve never gotten to see him really down the field too much last year because that’s not really who we are with the slot guy too much. You’ll get to see more of that. He’s a very difficult guy for corners to press because he’s so physically strong. He’s a lot like Donte (Moncrief). He gets in and out of breaks maybe a little better. He’s excited about the outside guys typically having a chance to make more explosive plays. I really like the way he’s worked. His body looks really good. He’s physically ready. We have to continue to help him improve mentally in year two of his journey here with us. I really like the mental frame he’s in right now. He really wants to be a leader. Myself and Coach (Grant) Heard have to help show him what that really looks like. Other receivers, we’re probably not as deep there as I would like to be. I’ve said all along that it would take us three years to get the depth exactly right. I like the ones we have. Quincy Adeboyejo could have a breakout year. Vince Sanders is incredibly underrated, hopefully he can stay healthy and have a special senior year. Of course the new kids in Markell (Pack) and Dayall (Harris). We moved (Quintavius) Burdette back over to slot, also, to give us some depth there. You have Cody Core and hopefully Collins (Moore) will be back with us very soon. Sammie (Epps) is going to start at tight end at the H. He and Evan (Engram) will both work out there. The thing, as you know with our offense, Evan and Sammie both will look like a receiver. We can line them up wherever we want them. We feel good about the way they can play in space.”

On Tee Shepard…
“I expect Tee to come in and hopefully be a lockdown corner that we may have been missing. He’s got the size, strength and speed. He’s physical. I love his attitude. The guy smiles all the time. He’s excited to be here. I like our depth at corner. This is the first time I can say that. I really like it. We’ve got some good possibilities there with he and Senquez (Golson) and Kailo (Moore) and Derrick Jones and Cliff Coleman and Carlos Davis and depending on where we play (Mike) Hilton. Hilton is one of the best football players on our team. When I’m hesitant about where he’s playing, he’ll be on the field. When we did our cut ups, he stood out. He’s a football player. With Chief going down, we have to do some shuffling. That took a little depth out of our safety rotation. We’ll have to do some moving around. I expect Tee to come in and compete right away.”

On depth on the offensive line…
“We’ve got to be careful. We’re OK inside, depth wise. On the edges, we’re very, very thin. Obviously we have a special one in Laremy Tunsil. We hope and pray that he has a healthy and outstanding year. We hope Fahn Cooper is exactly what we thought he would be. We have to start getting depth ready behind those guys. (Robert) Conyers is going to have to learn both center and tackle. Rod Taylor is going to have to learn guard and tackle. Davion is going to have to learn tackle. We’re thin on the edges. We hopefully can keep them healthy. We have to fix that in recruiting. We feel like one more class should help with that. We do have to be careful with the ones we know what they can do and get them game ready. Hopefully we won’t have any injuires.”

On whether reaching the next level is a physical or mental issue…
“It’s a little of both and some luck, to be very candid. Particularly in this conference, you need a ball to bounce your way, to make a field goal here, to not miss one here. You’re going to need all of that to go from good to great. There’s nothing wrong with being good. We’re striving to be great. How do we measure that? I don’t know. People will measure that with wins and losses. I try not to get caught up in that. I measure it by the preparation, attitude and the little thing that we do and continue to recruit. I don’t know if that occurs in this year or if it takes one more class to get us to that point. I’m more concerned with each individual, whether it’s our manager, coach or player, as an individual striving to go from good to great. If all of that happens, the results we’ll be OK with.”

On Bo Pelini’s comments regarding Damore’ea Stringfellow’s recruitment…
“We’re certainly confident in the way our coaching staff goes about doing things. I reached out to him and said ‘hey, if you have something that I don’t know, please call me.’ I got no response. I don’t know. I will say this, the lady I dealt with was very charming, intelligent and very observant. I think there are a lot of reasons that it may have gone our way. I’m sure he had a reason he said it. We’re glad we have String and his mom.”

On Deterrian Shackelford…
“He’s definitely healthier this go around than he has been. He still has a little hitch in his giddy up, so to speak. Last fall camp, we were a bit uncertain of where we thought he was best fit. We’re certain of where he’s going to start this fall camp. He’s more healthy. He’s very mature. He’s one of the leaders in the locker room. He’s this great model of a student-athlete. He’s the Chucky Mullins Award winner and all of those things. We have a fingers crossed that he has a healthy, successful year. We need him to play well in the middle.”

On Christian Morris’ waiver process…
“I haven’t heard. He’s not cleared to play in competition yet. He can practice, of course. Same thing with String (Stringfellow). They both are in the appeal process. I really have no time table how to tell you when those will come.”

On not having a veteran backup QB…
“We need to take some hits off of Bo (Wallace) for sure. Barry (Brunetti) did quite a nice job of coming in and giving us a changeup. I am confident, though, that as we continue to recruit we have the likes of people who can do that, whether you want a 300-pounder in Jeremy Liggins doing it or Anthony Alford, who could do some nice things there also. We’re confident in Ryan (Buchanan) and DeVante (Kincade), as well. Both have improved. They obviously need to continue to improve. They both have good things. The good thing about those two is they’ve both used their redshirt so I don’t feel like I’m hurting the kids’ future for a series here or there to see what he can do. Right now, if something happened and we had to play them, Ryan is a little ahead at being a pocket passer, while Kincade is a little ahead at running the entire scope of our offense.”

On what would make Freeze happiest heading to Atlanta…
“Healthy. I’m confident that going into year three they kind of understand what the non-negotiables are. We’re going to have great attitude and we’re going to practice with great effort. You’re not going to be perfect on every play, but you can have perfect effort. That’s what my expectations are throughout camp. If we can have perfect effort with great attitude, everyone continue to buy in and be all in to the little things, and we’re healthy going into week one, I will be a very, very happy coach when we head to Atlanta.”

On kickers…
“It’s wide open. They don’t let me watch those guys during the summer. I’m really anxious. I’m probably as most anxious when we go out our first time to see our field goal kicker, kicker competition and our punting guys. I’ve seen the punter. He was here this spring. It’s still a competitive battle there. (Will) Gleeson has the edge right now, as far as the punting duties. The kicking duties are wide open. I expect Andy (Pappanastos) and Gary (Wunderlich) to have a great competition for that and maybe (Andrew) Fletcher, too. Nathan Noble will handle the kickoff duties. That is a question mark on our team. That is something that can keep us from being great. I am kind of excited. We have some guys that could be really good.”

On Bo this summer…
“The only person that I’ve really talked to is Bo about that. He’s as confident as I’ve ever seen him. He says this is the first time in three years that he hasn’t had pain throwing, a little hitch in his shoulder. He’s really confident. I love the way his body has gained 12 or 15 pounds. He wasn’t able to do any that in the last offseason. He was just rehabbing. We didn’t let him run or do anything because of the chance of falling. I feel very confident that he’s in the best shape, both mentally and physically, since he’s be here.”

On Jeremy Liggins…
“He’s one of my favorite kids, even though he ripped my heart out at one point in the recruiting process. We’re glad he made his way back home. He’s such an athletic big guy. The possibilities of what he could end up playing, he’s starting at tight end, but that doesn’t mean that’s exactly where he’ll end up. He could play a lot of things. People like that certainly help your football team. We could move him around if we have some depth issues. He really wants to do well for this university. I believe that will all my heart.”

On moving players to different positions…
“Channing (Ward) is actually going to be back on defense. We moved him around several times just to find a way to get him on the field and more snaps. I bring them in and just try to be very candid with them. Every kid wants to play. They want to play in front of their parents and friends. They want to represent their university. They want to do well. It doesn’t always work out for every single person. That’s life. I wasn’t good enough to play at the level I wanted to or at the level I thought I should. That’s the way life goes. It’s our job to help them navigate those issues in life. It could be anything from changing a jersey number to positions. Most guys embrace it if they believe they have an opportunity to contribute. Channing and I have had several talks over the course of the summer. He wants to move back to the defensive side. He will probably have one package offensively that he can do. That’s all we’ve been asking him to learn on that side. Hopefully everything comes together for him. He’s such an athletic kid. Watching him run down with kickoff team you think he should be an All-SEC performer. Hopefully he will be before he leaves here. He’s excited to be back and we’re excited to see it all come together for him. Sometimes, these kids go through the recruiting process and come in with such high buildup. When things don’t immediately happen, the public and even people internally maybe feel like they aren’t what they told them they were. We forget they’re just a freshman again. One of the great things about coaching is you get see kids develop. His develop is still occurring with so many others. We just have to keep all of the outside stuff out and just continue to develop him as a young man and as a player. Hopefully he’ll start seeing the fruits of his labor this year.”


On his health…
“I feel as good as I’ve ever felt except the first year coming in. I feel 100 percent. Throwing the ball, I can push the ball down the field more. I’m anxious to get out there and start.”

On his appearance...
“That’s Coach Jackson and being able to get a good workout in every day.”

On Laquon Treadwell moving outside…
“It will be huge for us because physically not too many corners can match up with him out there. We’re able to move Quincy (Adeboyejo) to where Laquon played. We can have explosive, big plays with Quincy there and Laquon giving us the big threat outside.”

On how his health affects offense…
“My arm was never an issue with the tempo. Play calling was different, but we were always pretty fast. I don’t see that changing very much. We were pretty good at it last year.”

On the freshmen receivers…
“Markell (Pack), Dayall (Harris) and Sammie Epps are three that can come in and play right away. We have to see how physical they are with pads on, but they have all the tools to be able to come in and play right away.”

On his familiarity with the offense…
“Especially during the spring, a lot of our verbiage was the same. We’re going to change it up a little bit this year starting at camp, so the first couple days will be a little different for me. I’ll go home at night and study that. I don’t expect it to slow me down at all.”

On preseason honors…
“All the hype and things people can say is over now. It’s time to play football. We’ll find out at the end of the year who makes what.”

On Ole Miss taking the next step…
“The offseason we put in was huge. This is the best offseason I’ve been a part of. You know with the guys at your position that if you don’t work hard every day, you’ll get passed up. The competition is bringing out the best in everybody. To have that level of competition every day will only make us better and produce more wins.”



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