Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 09.03

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

Sept. 3, 2012

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday and discussed the Rebels' upcoming game against UTEP.


Opening Comments:

“We were thrilled to see our kids excited the other night with a victory. It’s been a while since some of them have experienced that. It was a very fun locker room to be a part of. Hopefully it is something we can build upon. Obviously there are a lot of things we still have to improve on. We were back at work hard yesterday. We had a great Sunday at practice. The energy of our kids was great. I thought they enjoyed the day yesterday. Hopefully we corrected some mistakes that we needed to correct going into this week’s game. We’ve got our hands full with UTEP. I was hopeful that I would put on the film and see a team that’s maybe not playing with great passion. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Coach Price has those guys playing with a lot of passion and heart. They got after one of the best teams in our country last weekend. We’ve got our hands full with them. They’ve got a tremendous tailback. Their defensive line is extremely talented. Their kicking game is solid. It’s going to be a great challenge. We look forward to it. I believe with all my heart we’ll be ready to play and I know our fans will. It was a great atmosphere last Saturday night. It was a memory of a lifetime for me and it’s one that I’ll treasure forever.”

On the strengths and weaknesses of Saturday’s game:

“It really pleased me that our kids came back out after halftime ready to play after a disappointing second quarter. We can attribute the second quarter to a lot of things. We called two terrible possessions. We didn’t put our kids in a situation that they needed to be in so they could have success like they did in the first quarter. Defensively our eyes were awful. I don’t know if it was nerves or anxiousness.  We play a lot of young kids. I forget that sometimes. Kids like Denzel Nkemdiche, Chief Brown and Senquez Golson. Those guys are just freshmen. They’re young kids. Our defensive line played really well, but there was so much separation between them and our linebackers in the gap assignments. We didn’t do our job defensively in the first half. I was a little disappointed in that and two possessions on offense where I felt like we stopped ourselves. I’m part to blame for that. On the positive side, our quarterback play was really well. Our receivers play was well. We got good production from our tailbacks. Our offensive line, I know we had a lot of yards and the big men lead the way. There are five of them so it’s more likely that there are more mistakes there. We’ve got to improve some things there. We created some negative plays because of us. Taking nothing away from Central Arkansas, because Coach Conque had his guys ready for the game and they played well. We created some negative plays because of our own doing. Those were the things I was disappointed in. I was really pleased with the effort of a lot of our kids. It could have gone either way there at halftime. I thought that our kids came back out and showed some excitement and energy. They started playing a lot better.”

On an offensive plan that includes lots of short passes:

“That’s who we are. We’ll take our shots. I’ve got to examine each game. Last year my deal was we’re going to take three shots a quarter and I felt like we’d still get the first down. I don’t know that we’re at that stage in our program and that was something that got us in a little trouble during the second quarter. I got a little greedy. I’ve got to evaluate us on who we are. That is typically who we are. People laugh at me when I say I’d like to complete 70 percent of our passes. I’ve seen it happen. Our percentage the other night was pretty good. If you look at Bo Wallace’s number he was 20 for 24. He had two total drops. Ferbia Allen dropped one and Jaylen Walton dropped one. Then he had a tipped ball that caused the interception on a protection issue. His percentage was really good as was Barry Brunetti’s. Barry was five for seven.”

On injuries from the game:

“Issac Gross is the only kid that didn’t finish the game. He went through workouts yesterday. He got kneed right in the calf. He seems to be fine. Randall Mackey was feeling awful the entire day. We got him to the hospital yesterday and got him some medicine that seems to be working for an infection he had in his throat area. He’s feeling better today. Everything else was just normal. Expect everybody to be ready to go Tuesday.”

On defensive line:

“We played six interior guys and six defensive ends. We played a lot of guys up front. I thought they played extremely well after looking at the film. No one really separated themselves. C.J. Johnson had a good game and so did Cameron Whigham. Jason Jones graded out well. All of the interior guys were about the same. They were really doing a good job in the first half, even though it didn’t seem like it.  It takes all 11 to be on the same page. We ended up getting seven three-and-outs for the game. Dave (Wommack) and his staff made some adjustments at halftime. I think we kind of settled down and everyone started doing their job. We can’t always play 12 guys on the defensive line, but I anticipate it being the same this week.”

On trying to squeeze in one more offensive series toward the end of the second half:

“I think the game dictates that. I think if you’re ahead a touchdown it’s a little different. If you’re behind like we were, you want every chance you have to score. Our thought was if they have to punt, we have a chance. Our whole deal was we were behind and let’s use every second we have to compete. That is who I am if that’s the situation. I thought we might be able to complete a couple of passes in the few seconds we had and give Bryson Rose a chance to hit one. We did complete a couple of passes and gave him a chance. It was probably a little out of his range. He has hit a couple of 58-yarders before (in practice). There was a little wind so that would have taken a big leg to get to. Unfortunately our protection wasn’t quite what we needed it to be. I just want to compete every second that we get, particularly if we are behind.”

On Denzel Nkemdiche:

“We talk about relentlessly pursuing the football and he gets that. He was so hyped up all day and he couldn’t go many more plays. He was emotionally drained. We’re playing with young kids and they have to learn how to control those emotions all day. It was probably not good for him to be around me all day either. I was pretty jacked up myself. He only played about 30 plays because he had to have some IVs but he’s settled down a lot now. It helps having that first one under his belt. He played extremely well.”

On Korvic Neat’s game:

“He fits with a lot of things we do. He’s so important to us because of the special teams and our screen game. He’s got some change in direction.  A lot of times he’s going to touch the ball and there’s going to be an unblocked guy. We’ve got to win some one-on-ones at some point to win football games. I think he’s got the ability to do that. I’m really pleased with his progression. More than anything, I’m pleased with how he’s maturing as a young man. He’s come a long way. He walks around here now with a smile on his face and he has a different persona than he did a few months back.”

On Collins Moore and the status of his labrum:

“We had a meeting yesterday on him. We’re going to really turn him loose in practice this week and see how he responds to it. We’ll try to make a decision no later than week three in regards to him, if we should go on and have the surgery or should we try to make it through the year.”

On Jeff Scott’s injury status:

“He looked good yesterday. He was not pain free, but he definitely moved around good. I expect him to be ready to go.”

On the quarterback rotation against UTEP:

“We’re going to start Bo Wallace. Barry Brunetti will get his opportunity also. We’ll kind of see how the game’s going. They both didn’t hurt themselves. We’re not going to change up too much at this point. They both did some really good things. Barry came in a really critical time in the game. We were only up eight points. Bo was drained and we had to bring Barry in. He led us down for a score. I’m glad we’ve got both of them.”

On UTEP and their opener against Oklahoma:

“I had watched some film from last year and felt we could score some points. Then you turn this one on and if they had made field goals that game could be totally different. They probably wouldn’t have faked a punt and probably hold the lead. It stayed tied at seven until about three minutes left in the third quarter. The one score Oklahoma had was on a broken play. Just a phenomenal throw by the quarterback on a broken play and coverage kind of broke down. They’ve got our full attention I assure you. Everybody is studying hard to try to find a way to make sure we put our kids in a position to compete. I don’t know if they redshirted a good many number of kids or they have just matured some. They’re definitely a different looking team.”

On decision to play Maikhail Miller against UCA:

“I think we’re going to need him. You have to have three quarterbacks ready to play. In hindsight, I don’t know if that was the best time to do it. I do believe we’re going to need him before the year is up. We made fun of him all day yesterday because I told him I could have scored on the play where he broke loose and the turf monster grabbed him. We’re going to play these freshmen. We’re not deep enough at places. We talked to him and he was good with it. Before it’s over we’re going to have to throw him in there a series or two. He can throw a deep ball as good as anybody we have.”

On lack of penalties and only one turnover:

“Really pleased with the penalties. The one turnover irritates me. We did fumble the ball. We have to secure it better. Luckily we had good people hustling to the ball to get it. We’re really pleased with the penalties. To go into your first game with a bunch of new kids, a new offense and a new defense and to be pretty much penalty free I thought spoke well for the discipline of our kids. Turnover wise, the protection really was an issue. It wasn’t necessarily a bad throw, it just got tipped because we turned a guy loose. I was really pleased with the penalties and I hope it continues.”

On freshmen in the second half:

“I thought they all just calmed down. Not just the freshmen but some of the other young kids, it was almost a sense of relief that we came in at halftime and didn’t pounce on them. We told them to calm down and to do their job. I thought they matured some. Obviously we’re still young. We’ll see how they respond this Saturday night. This past Saturday night I know without a doubt it gave them a lot of confidence. That should translate to better play throughout the four quarters of a game.”

On personnel or position changes on the offensive line: 

“We’re always looking at different options. We rushed for 230 yards and threw for 330 so I don’t want to sit here and not give them credit. They had to do something right throughout the course of the game to get those yards. We’re thin in the offensive line and we’re inexperienced there. We’re looking at every option we have and it’s going to take all of them to play the pace we want to play. Coach (Matt) Luke is working tirelessly to try and find the best combination.

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