Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 10.08

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

Oct. 8, 2012

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday and discussed the Rebels' Homecoming game against Auburn on Saturday.


Opening Statement:

“We’re excited to get back to work and get ready for Auburn. Obviously it was disappointing that we didn’t come away with a win Saturday night against a fine Texas A&M team. I was extremely pleased with the effort of our kids and their execution of the game plan that was put in place. We played well enough with the turnovers we had to win the game. It didn’t go our way. We even had a chance at the end to do it. Bo (Wallace) played a really good game the other night. That one decision is one he would love to have back as we all would. When you lose a game like that you look at yourself first and all of the things you could have done differently. You try to learn from that. There were certainly a handful of things that could have swung the game in our favor. Bottom line is we didn’t get it done. It was a great atmosphere in the Vaught and it will be this Saturday. Our kids will be ready to go at it again on Saturday morning.”

On the team’s mood on Sunday:

“It was very good considering the circumstances. Our kids are very resilient. The coaches are the ones who don’t sleep at all thinking about all of the different scenarios that you wish would have been different. You wish the ball had bounced a different way or you wish you didn’t have a penalty on this. All of those things keep us up. The kids were great. They went to work with Paul (Jackson) in the weight room and conditioning. I’m confident that they’re still a hungry group.”

On team penalties against Texas A&M:

“The penalties were on a senior who hasn’t jumped offside all year. He was hearing things that were from the other side. He’s got to glue into our quarterback. They were saying something on the other side that definitely was getting his attention. As far as the other penalties go, we took a delay of game on purpose. The personal foul was the first one we’ve had all year. We were very disappointed in that. We’re not for selfish penalties that hurt our football team. That young man is not a selfish individual. Sometimes we all make mistakes. He made one. That has been addressed and dealt with. We don’t tolerate selfish penalties.”

On the fourth quarter against Texas A&M:

“We did find a way to get into the fourth quarter against a very good football team. You’ll see that as the year progresses. They’re very talented. They will give some people some problems with what they do offensively and defensively, their speed up front. Now it’s time to do something with it. The expectations that we laid out for year one is for our kids to compete at a high level. We tend to forget very quickly that it’s been a few years since that has occurred. Our kids are representing Rebel Nation and our fans very, very well. They’re a fun team to watch because of the way they’re competing. That’s what we want to continue doing, above all else. The next step is not only getting to the fourth quarter in a highly contested game, but finding a way to win it.”

On the next step of development for Bo Wallace:

“If you look at Bo’s game, he played a good game. The mistakes that he does make are magnified because of the state of our program. We’re at a place in our program right now where every single snap and play is critical. It appears that way right now. Except for one time in the first half, he was making exactly the right decisions. Just throw it to your check down. We were trying to get into field goal range with two timeouts left. The ball came right out of his hands. The unfortunate part is it can’t come out of his hand and go to the ground. It goes right to them and results in a touchdown. The one at the end of the game, you don’t even have to tell him it was a bad decision. Those are the ones that we have to continue to coach whether it’s him or Barry (Brunetti). Those are the decisions we can’t make. It is a no brainer. Prior to the snap he should have seen where it should have gone. He’s nowhere in his progression to be making the decision to go to that receiver and that call. He’ll be the first one to tell you that. We’ll be the first one to tell you we have to coach him better. As far as moving forward, he’ll be the starter this week. You’ll see a combination of both. If mistakes like that are occurring early, there will be a change.

On this week’s preparation:

“We won’t slack off. We’ll continue to preach to them. Every Sunday we get together and we have a character traits program. I have a book that I’ve written about those and I take them from those to see which ones relate best to us. Last week it was toughness, coming off of the Alabama game. I wanted to emphasize that. This week we’re talking about competing; competing as a young man in life, in school and also on the field. It’s just to remind them that we have to prepare to compete. We’ll do it the same way again. I’m very confident that they’re still hungry and are going to show up to play again.”

On Mike Hilton’s performance against Texas A&M:

“He played really well for a true freshman being thrown in there to his first significant snaps in a game like that. He made some key plays and got beat a few times. That’s kind of who we are right now with the young kids. That’s going to happen at times. I’m very confident in Mike. He’s a good kid. He’s a tough player, hardnosed and can run. You need as many of those as you can find. He had a good game for his first outing.”

On Auburn:

“We listen to everything that they say. Their program is kind of at a wall right now. They’re talking about their offensive identity. Exactly what that is, I don’t know. We’ve kind of seen the power game and we’ve seen them try to spread it out a little more. I know they are working hard this week trying to figure out what is going to give them the best chance to win, and I have no doubts that they’ll come out fighting and swinging. They’ve got a very talented defensive line that will give you problems. It keeps them in most games. If their offense ever starts clicking, they’re going to be a very good team in this conference regardless of what their record is. We all know that from being around this conference. Every team has enough players to scare you. There are certainly no exceptions. Anytime (Onterio) McCalebb touches it, it can be a touchdown. He’s that fast. (Emory) Blake is a great receiver. They’ve got solid players around them. Offensively, we’re going to prepare for everything we’ve seen. I’m sure they’ll come in with a plan and we’ll have to adjust to what that is.”

On getting sacks and production from so many different players:

“What you’re seeing is a product of the scheme. We wish we had one or two guys we knew could line up in a four-man rush and lead, or to be in the top 20 or so in the nation. Right now we’re not sure that we’re there, so it is a product of (Dave Wommack’s) scheme and bringing different people from different spots to make it look different and hopefully get some pressure. We’ve been successful some games and unsuccessful some games. Our goal the other night was not to rush (Johnny Manziel) totally. It was to play more coverage and force him to stay in the pocket and make throws which we hadn’t seen him have to do. He certainly proved that he can do that some. We caused some turnovers, too. They only had one coming into the game the entire year. Dave is good about mixing that up and coming into each game with a different plan for each team.”

On Cameron Whigham:

“Cameron is one of those kids who plays his role very efficiently. He’s been very good against the run. We’re constantly working at getting more pass rush out of him. He’s been very solid. The defensive line has played pretty well all year, with the exception of the Texas game. Even then they made some good plays. I think he’s had a solid year.”

On Cody Prewitt’s progression:

“Cody’s playing too many snaps for us right now. We’ve had to use him almost every down and on special teams. That’s how important he is to us. The thing that stands out the most about him is how concerned he is with what happens in this program. He is the perfect representative for our university as a student-athlete and in our football program as one of our leaders. He plays like it each and every game. He studies hard to make sure he’s in the right spot. Whatever limitations he might have athletically in people’s eyes, he certainly seems to be overcoming them because of his desire and willingness to prepare the right way.”

On the development of the offensive line and Emmanuel McCray:

“The offensive line continues to improve. We didn’t give up much pressure the other night for most of the game. Some of that was due to a game plan that we thought would try to keep them a little off balance and mix the pass and run up pretty good. That’s probably one of the reasons. Even when we did have to throw, they protected very well. I know Matt (Luke) has done a great job in working with them. They have come along. We still have things we need to improve on as every group does. I do think they’ve made satisfactory progress. Emmanuel McCray is another kid that just cares so much. It’s his time to play. He has sat around a few years wanting that. He seems to be healthier now then he was during spring ball. That has been helpful to him. Patrick Junen came in the other night and gave us some quality snaps. That was good to see. He was in a three-man rotation between him, Emmanuel and Pierce (Burton) at the tackle position.”

On the decision to go in the shotgun on fourth and inches:

“I want to be clear. I would go for that again every single time, with fourth and inches and the game on the line for our team to win it in the state of this program and to not give the ball back to Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense. Do I sit around and second guess the call? Absolutely, you better believe I do. I’m my worst critic. The decision, since everyone has an opinion, I’ll be glad to share you mine. The first time we do that and go quarterback sneak, which is my natural progression to do, I’ve proven that through the games. They went to a bear defense and end up about a yard in our backfield. That was the decision not to do the sneak because I thought they would jump in bear again and we would have our hands full. Obviously I wish I had the decision to make over now. I would call something different. I had about five seconds to make that decision. The bear defense that they had the time before was the reason we did what we did.”

On how Jeff Scott is holding up:

“I’ve been pleased with him. He got dinged the other night a little bit, but went through workouts yesterday. He’s progressing more attitude wise and as a student-athlete now than he was in the spring or during fall camp. I couldn’t be more pleased with his progress and he’s taken a good bit of the load.”

On the status of Collins Moore:

“Unfortunately, Collins will be out for year. He separated his shoulder again the other night, actually the other one. He now has two hurt shoulders. That’s unfortunate for us because he was starting to get his shot and playing well. He’ll be out for the rest of the year. So we need Korvic (Neat) back. I expect him back this week. Ja-Mes (Logan) has been playing at the slot also for us. That helps us there, too.”

On spreading the ball around to several different receivers:

“The first three games it kind of got skewed for whatever reason. We were glued into Donte (Moncrief). We’re obviously thrilled we have him and are going to try to get him the ball, but this offense is really designed to spread it around. We’ve had about 15 different guys catch passes and we’d like for that to continue being the trend. I’m really pleased with the way Vince (Sanders) and Ja-Mes (Logan) are competing for the ball. They both have had some solid games the last few weeks, which helps Donte out also. We love to spread it around.”

On Jeff Scott’s attitude change:

“Jeff and I have had more heart to hearts than you can imagine. I loved coming in, trying to win him over and convincing him to be a great team guy. He’s someone who has bought in and shown he’s bought in by not only the way he performs on the field, but also the choices he makes academically and socially. We’ve had many of those talks. I’m really proud and think he’s on the way. The last few weeks I couldn’t be more proud of the way he’s going about his business.”

On Denzel Nkemdiche as a leader:

“To be a freshman and a leader is rare in this conference. He’s kind of assumed that role defensively, he and Cody (Prewitt). It has to do with him backing up his effort and attitude on the field. He still makes some mistakes, just like all freshmen do. He goes 100 miles per hour when he makes those. Sometimes he’s able to overcome. The passion that he shows playing this game at this university, no one can question that. That’s something that our fans and our people have been very hungry to see. He leads by example in that arena.”

On special teams improvements:

“On kickoff coverage, we were very nervous about some things that they did and the people they had back there, as we were with punts. That guy (Dustin Harris) led the nation last year in punt returns. We worked very hard on both of those game plans. On kickoff, we gave them two returns that were more than we would have liked to. We would like to keep them inside the 25 of course. We had two freshmen, both times fall for a little dip by them and get out of their lane a little bit. It was much better. If you watch it as an entirety, we’re in our lanes and doing our jobs. Football’s the ultimate game. One guy can get out of his position and compromise the integrity of the scheme. That happens from time to time. Fortunately we were able to still get them on the ground.”

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