Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 08.27

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM Hugh Freeze (photo by Joshua McCoy)
Hugh Freeze (photo by Joshua McCoy)

Aug. 27, 2012

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday and discussed the Rebels' upcoming season opener versus Central Arkansas.


Opening Comments:

"We're really excited about it being game week. Anytime you go through fall camp like we and many others have at this level, week one is usually very exciting. Week one is energetic. Week two and three are absolute grinds. The start of week four, game week, there's a bounce in their step and you see that in their attitudes. I saw that yesterday. I even saw it Saturday night as we did our mock game. I'm very excited to get into this game week and start game prepping even more. Our staff has been at it hard this morning. We're looking forward to hitting the practice field tomorrow. We will have some kids be back out there with us that we really need like Charles Sawyer, Wesley Pendleton and hopefully Cliff Coleman. We're excited to get those guys back and seeing if they'll be able to function. We're really excited about game week and excited to get out there Saturday and see what our kids have."

On the team's progress:

"I'm really encouraged with the progress we've made in attitude, effort, personal responsibility and accountability. We're making progress there. We're still not totally there in that regard either. There are some days I think we might be better than I thought. Some days I may feel like we're going to be worse than I thought. Your guess is probably as good as mine. I really don't know. I'm excited to find out. I like the vibes I'm getting from our kids this week, but until we go out there and actually line up against someone else, make the adjustments we have to make and see how our kids perform when things do not go well, which happens in football and how they handle those things. What are they going to do when something doesn't go our way? I'm really curious to see how we do and excited to find out."

On the qualities that determine who gets snaps at quarterback:

"Protect the football, keep us on schedule, be able to function in our tempo and have production in their drives. I'll probably decide somewhere around Wednesday who is going to take the first series."

On the quarterback decision:

"To me, going into game one, they're kind of co-ones. I don't get caught up in depth charts really. I want to know who can play and how many guys you have that you can play at that position. Who rolls out there that first series, I don't get too caught up with. At the end of the day, if they make plays for our football team they'll be happy and so will the coaches."

On the running back rotation:

"It kind of depends how much tempo we're in. That wears them out a little bit more. We probably can't go more than five or six plays consecutively if we're in that mode. I expect for Randall Mackey, I'Tavius Mathers and Jaylen Walton to all get carries. If Jeff Scott is healthy he will be in that mix. I expect at least four of them to get action and to get carries."

On interior defensive line rotation:

"I think early on in these games you're going to see about six guys with Issac Gross, Carlton Martin, Bryon Bennett, Uriah Grant, Woody Hamilton and Gilbert Pena. I think you're going to see all six of those guys in these early games. When we get down to doing a travel squad the normal number for the interior line is usually five. We'll see kind of how that shakes out after a few games and see how those guys are playing. I think you'll see all six of those guys."

On Cody Prewitt:

"Coming out of spring ball I was really concerned about Cody. Cody is the type of kid that doesn't tell you everything that's going on. I found out he went through all spring with a high ankle sprain. He just really didn't tell his coaches and he tried to get treatment to push through it. He's a different guy in fall camp. He moves a lot better. I'm really pleased with the type of kid he is. He's the type of student-athlete you want to represent you. When you talk about buy in, Cody Prewitt has bought in. I'm sure he was bought in with the last staff also. He's a kid that represents Ole Miss extremely well. I'm anxious to see how we tackle. We've had scrimmages where we did not tackle very well. I think that's something they all have to work on. He's a definite leader back there. He gets us all on the same page. Hopefully we can add Charles (Sawyer) back there with him. That gives us two really mature guys. We've got some pretty good young guys too with Trae Elston, Quintavius Burdette and Chief Brown. I keep forgetting that Chief is just a redshirt freshman."

On Jamal Mosley decision:

"I have not made a decision. Our staff has been out every day checking classes and tutors. We're going to continue to see if he does everything the right way, along with others. They know what's out there. We have a little thing going to try and increase our personal accountability. If you decide you want to miss a class this week or last week, you will sit out a portion of the game. We're doing really well with that so far. We'll continue to evaluate him just like the others. He's done everything we've asked up to this point."

On readiness and tempo:

"We talked about that Saturday night after the mock game. We're not as fast as we want to be, but we're better than we were in the spring. Again, it's really hard to tell how long we can do that in consecutive drives or in the same drive. I'll be curious Saturday to see if we get that opportunity. Hopefully we can get some first downs and check it out to see how our kids respond to it. We're definitely more understanding and better than we were in the spring."


"They are very well coached. I played them last year. I'm very familiar with Coach Conque. That was a big rival game last year. It is one that the people of Arkansas had looked forward to for a long time so I knew we were going to get a great effort out of his kids. I was impressed by the scheme he had built for us, particularly the offensive scheme. He moved the ball on us and did some things that we had not seen done. I was really impressed with the job. They've got quite a few division one transfers, as always. They're going to get those from year to year. They're somewhat of an unknown. When I look at the depth chart I see some new guys on here that moved down from Tennessee, Buffalo, Air Force, Arkansas, Ole Miss or wherever. They have several of those quality players that for whatever reason didn't work out at their schools so those are players we'll have to contend with. Some of those are a little unknown as far as changing the schemes goes. They're very similar to us. They're usually an 11 personnel team, one back, zone runs and quarterback runs. He's got some really nice pass concepts.  Defensively they play a 4-2-5 also."

On getting to the game:

"I'm so sick of practice. I'm sick of the interviews that you have where people want to know the same thing. You really want to get to the game and talk about how this person did instead of what we expect. It's all speculation right now. I think it's time for us, as for every other school, to get on the field and see who is going to perform well."

On C.J. Johnson:

"He's our best player. We need to keep him healthy. I expect him to be a major factor in our pass-rush schemes. I wish he were a little heavier. That could take a toll on his body probably as the stretch goes on. We will hopefully get him a little bigger and be smart when we use him. Couldn't be more pleased with the way he's bought in and the way he's practiced up to this point."

On how it will be for Freeze, personally, during the first game:

"I try not to think too much about that. I do know that coming here as a little child, going to the Grove and watching the teams go through. My experience in doing that let me know the passion of the Ole Miss people. Family has always been something. That's where our families got together. I know that all of those people for the most part will certainly try to be there. That will certainly be kind of special, to know that I have the opportunity to walk through them as the coach here. I know it will be special. I know it's special to my family, to me, my kids, my wife, my mom, my dad and everyone that's close to me. That will go away really fast and it will turn to the kids. Hopefully I can keep it off of me Saturday. It's about getting those kids to play. Ultimately that's what is going to make everybody happy. That's kind of where I try to keep my focus, but it will be special."

On Hurricane Isaac impact:

"I tweeted out the other morning, something about storms in life and how it was like practicing for a game. I had no idea there was a hurricane. I start getting blasted on Twitter by a couple of people. I finally showed it to my wife and she told me there's a hurricane coming. I immediately took it down. I haven't been paying a lot of attention, but I will start this week. We'll do some wet ball drills for sure. I haven't seen if it's going to be around Saturday or not, but we'll do some wet ball drills."

On what has helped Randall Mackey have such a good camp at running back:

"Consistency, toughness and competitive spirit. He has all of those things. When I got here I said he could be an excellent player if he got his act together, off the field primarily. He seems to have done that to this point. I'm very cautiously optimistic that that will continue. He's one of my favorite kids on the team. I can't wait for him because I feel like he feels he has something to prove. I look forward to seeing him in action."

On stamina:

"The most in any scrimmage one single player has gone is probably 52-53 plays. We'll get in some of these games and hopefully ask some to play quite a bit more than that. Those typically go with some decent rest in between because the twos have gone or the threes have jumped in there. That's another unknown, how we're going to react when we have a 12-play drive. When you have a three and out and you're back out there for another one, can you sustain your highest level of play when those things are occuring? We don't know that. We have to try and be smart. The kids we feel like can go in and play, play well and try to help us win we have to keep them rotated and keep them fresh."

On potentially bad weather conditions this week:

"Provided there are no dangerous winds or anything, we'll practice inside. I haven't even given any thought to it still being severe when it gets here. I guess I need to get somebody on top of that. We'll turn our attention to it and try to make our plan. Number one is about the safety of our kids and our families. Then we'll worry about the practice plan secondly."

On Charles Sawyer, Wesley Pendleton and Cliff Coleman:

"It's too early to tell. Tomorrow will be their first day back out there. I'm not sure if Cliff is going to go or not yet. The other two are scheduled to be let loose. We're going to see how they perform and then Wednesday we'll see how they feel after going through a practice. I think that will tell us a lot."

On Jeff Scott:

"If he's not taking some reps by Wednesday, his time will be very limited."

On first couple of weeks of the season:

"I can't sit here and say that it's a do-or-die situation. I think anytime you put that statement out in front of your kids, it's not good because it is a process. It's going to take patience. It's not going to be cured overnight. The confidence gained from success, there's nothing like it. We talk to our kids all the time about staying out of the chair. The chair represents just a given result and not the process.  If you're sitting in the chair and all about results, you tend to lose concentration and focus through the adversity that you face. It will still be about the process, win or lose."

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