Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 09.02

Hugh Freeze

Hugh Freeze

Sep 2, 2013

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media on Monday and discussed the Rebels' season-opening victory at Vanderbilt and the home opener against SEMO.

BLOG: Replacing Morris, D. Nkemdiche

Opening Statement:

"It feels like it's been a little bit since we've been together, so it was good to see everyone this morning.  I thought their attitude was great and so was practice.  They understand from watching film Friday that there is a lot of improvement that needs to take place.  We're really pleased to come out of a road SEC game with a win, particularly having to come back several times.  Our kids fought the entire 60 minutes, we certainly made a lot of mistakes but we'll get them corrected.  It's nice to be 1-0, I've been on the other side of those games and I know the feeling that coach Franklin and his staff and kids are having and it's not much fun.  We're blessed to have not played our best, but still find a way to win.  We're looking forward to getting back to play at home, which is always special.  We have to play with a little something extra and defend our home, and so we're excited about playing in Vaught Hemmingway Stadium in front of our home crowd."

On positives and negatives of Vanderbilt game:

"I was pleased with effort.  I thought the adjustments that our offensive and defensive staff made at halftime were good.  If we were sitting here not having let them complete a 4th-and-18, and then blown a coverage on the next play we'd probably feel a lot better about that.  Our eyes got pretty bad at times, they threw some things at us that we hadn't seen.  They moved (Jordan) Matthews around a lot more than what we had thought, we figured he would be in a slot or outside, and ended up playing some flex tight end and running play-pass on us.  I'd say offensively we had three possessions that were bad possessions.  The rest of them were really good.  We got beat on some one-on-one situations, which happens sometimes, they (Vanderbilt) have a really good defensive front.  For special teams we have to make a 43 or 44-yarder, Andrew Ritter needs to make those.  One was a long one, which I took a chance with because he has the leg, but we have to get more consistent.  That was his first live game though.   When punting, and we have a chance to put it inside the ten (yard line), we have to make that and Tyler (Campbell) knows that.  He works at it and is very good at it.  If I had to say one thing, I would say I was pleased with the effort."

On injuries to team:

"We didn't experience injuries last year very much, but now right off the bat we're faced with adversity with Aaron Morris being done for the year.  The worst part of our game is to see how much effort they put in during the offseason and then they get to go play in front of everyone and to get that news is not easy.  The good thing however is that he does have a redshirt available, so hopefully we can get a medical redshirt and he'll still have two years to play.  Denzel (Nkemdiche), his is not season-ending so we feel like he'll be back, best case four weeks, worst case six.  We are certainly still thin at spots, so hopefully we won't have to experience this every week.  To fill in for Aaron we're looking to four guys to rotate in at guard right now and that's Patrick Junen, Austin Golson, Jared Duke and Justin Bell.  We'll also work Emmanuel inside as well.  Denzel's spot will be filled by Serdarius Bryant and Keith Lewis."

On message to team at halftime:

"I reminded them of one of the staples of our program, and that is that you play 60 minutes.  Then we'll look up and see what the score is.  The coaches had already made the adjustments for offense and defense, and then it was a matter of looking those young kids in the eye and reminding them we will fight until the end.  Our defense did a good job, we can't let big plays happen.  We didn't expect to come up here on the road in an SEC game and have them just give it to us.  Vanderbilt is a great and experienced team and they shifted the momentum down 10-0 on us.  But we were fortunate to get it back."

On Evan Ingram:

"We didn't initially offer him off of watching film, but when he came to camp I immediately offered him.  He's a natural route runner, and has great hands.  He's not as big as we would like for him to be right now but I think you saw the other night what we saw in camp, his ability to play the game.  He understands how to use his body and get open and he catches the ball well.  So he became highly rated to us."

On focus of players this week:

"It was an emotional game last week, but when you win a game like that I believe it's easier to really be harder on them on some of the mistakes.  I think us having Friday together and able to show them what to fix was good.  They looked focused today and I was pleased with practice."

On Laremy Tunsil and Austin Golson:

"Laremy graded extremely high after the Vanderbilt game, and Austin was about average.  Austin's effort was phenomenal, he pulled the wrong way a couple of times but those are things a normal freshman will do, especially while playing inside.  Inside a lot of things can go on and he's only been taking reps there for about a week and a half, but I was real pleased with his effort and focus."

On D.T. Shackleford's first game back:

"I was pleased, we've shuffled him around a lot.  By the end of the opening week I would like to be settled on exactly where guys will play, and now with the injuries we have to move guys around again.  He made a few mistakes on his fits but he played with phenomenal effort and now that he's beginning to settle in I think he'll be fine."

On play of offensive line in second half:

"We got beat in the first half, we allowed four sacks, and didn't allow any in the second half.  They (Vanderbilt) have a mature defensive line and not to demean our guys, but a good defensive line is going to win some one on ones.  In the second half, they had to worry more about the run game, which made it much easier.  It was great that we were able to get into some good 3th-down situations, and we were able to run the ball more to get first downs."

On play of cornerbacks:

"I think everybody that watched the game saw that when Senquez Golson can go we are much better.  We were trying kids that had never played snaps, and I think they're going to be good.  We have to get Charles Sawyer healthy, and we'll try moving guys from the husky over to the boundary corner.  We have to be solid there because that's the first option for all of us offensive-minded guys.  Dehenderet Collins had never played corner in a game before, and his eyes were pretty bad at times.  He was a husky last year and we'll move him back there and keep moving guys around and hopefully get some guys healthy.  Senquez looked good in practice today and Charles is closer to getting healthy as well."

On first contact with recruits and impact of playing freshman:

"The response from them was great, and we always talk about playing the best players, whatever class they are in.  In our case, particularly in many spots, the opportunity to play early is definitely there.  I think we proved that the other night.  So I thought the response from that was good.  We made an effort to get the recruits on the phone the first day, and if we happen to be first then that's great.  You don't expect to be the first to call on all of them but I believe we were on quite a few, but we still have to recruit them until February."

On I'Tavius Matthers:

"He practiced today, he's not full speed but he definitely looked better.  Last week he just couldn't play.  I think we could play him this week if we chose to.  He's more of a guy we feel like we can line up and run some more power and gap scheme plays.  We sure do miss him but hopefully he can get healthy and we can add his style back to our playbook."

On preparing for SEMO:

"There's a lot of D-I AA schools that beat D-I schools so we will have to really prepare.  Southern Missouri really eats the clock on offense and it's never fun preparing for an option style team, it's not something you look at every week.  As far as moving we'll probably try Mike Hilton at corner, and move Dehendret Collins to husky.  We'll also be able to play Anthony Standfier and Charles at corner.  Bobby Hill looked good in practice too so we'll think of all our options and you may seem a lot of movement.I look forward to sharing with them what it's like to play at home, particularly for our new kids.  They all get to experience the walk of champions and see their families out there, and hopefully they can understand what it all means.  I'm looking forward to sharing with them how special it is."

On playing a SEC game to open season:

"There was definitely more pressure, and it adds a little higher focus level going into the season and in camp.  The excitement level was higher as well.  I think any time that you get to put your kids on a national stage and the opening night of college football it's something that you have to do.  If that means you have to play an SEC game to open, we're certainly alright with that.  The great exposure that we got, and the great job by our fans traveling to a visiting stadium was all worth it I feel."

On Robert Nkemdiche's performance:

"I think he was good, his effort was great, and he did get tired which may have been from us playing him a few too many snaps.  He had some missed assignments and things he didn't do exactly right but we expected that, and it's our jobs as coaches to get that fixed."

On run by Jeff Scott:

"We won one just like that in my first year at Arkansas State, against Western Kentucky.  Arkansas State had not won a road conference game in a long time and our kids believed they could win.  We were down at the end and had to go 70 yards in a minute.  So it was similar, and our kids gained great confidence from the win but never with a run like Jeff Scott had.  The last snap they had gone two-man on defense and it's very difficult to throw against that, so during the timeout I figured we had to get a shot at a field goal at least to go into overtime.  I felt comfortable that the run would get us ten or more yards if they played two-man again, and it would have but then we had a guy seal the edge and Jeff made a phenomenal run on the outside.  I can't say that's what I was expecting but kids make great plays on good teams and he made one.  I was standing back behind the offense so I could see what was going on, and I really thought he would go out of bounds to stop the clock.  After he got the ten yards people got in front of me so I started watching the jumbotron and then I was thinking `no way'.  But then I said `thank you, God'."

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