Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 10.14

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze (photo by Joshua McCoy)

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze (photo by Joshua McCoy)
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 14, 2013

Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels’ performance last Saturday vs. Texas A&M and preview Ole Miss’ upcoming matchup against No. 6 LSU.

BLOG: 'They Bounce Back And Will Fight'

Opening statement: 

"It’s another Monday. A difficult stretch we’ve had. We’ve gotten beaten by the No. 1 team, No. 6 team, No. 24 team, and we have another top 10 team coming in this week. It’s been arguably the toughest stretch of games that I can recall seeing since 2006. I think we played six national champions in that stretch. It’s been a great challenge. It’s been one where we’ve learned quite a bit about ourselves. I continue to be extremely proud of the way our kids compete and prepare. It was great being back home in front of our home crowd. It definitely is a boost for our kids and raises our level. We’re going to need that for the remainder of the year. I’m disappointed in the loss, of course. When you have a chance to win a game where you know the exhilaration that your young men would feel after beating a quality opponent like (Texas) A&M, you sure hate to let it slip away and not go your way. There are a lot of things that we’ve got to continue to try to improve. Making plays at critical times is a big part of that. I give credit to A&M because they did that. Again, we’ve got a very tough opponent coming in this week. We’re a beat-up football team right now. We’ll get ready for it. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”

On last offensive series of Texas A&M game:

“We had a little deal we’ve done the whole second half, where we try to short motion and try to see exactly what they’re running to make the call accordingly. They were going to boundary hammer with an eight-man front, which is very difficult to run against. We checked to a pass and unfortunately it didn’t go to the right place. We had a guy in the flat area wide open for nice gainer to get a good drive starter. We made a bad decision. To me, that was better than running it and being in second-and-10 or nine or 11 with what I saw was coming. They checked out of it which took away the two verticals, but we definitely had the flat open. We then came back with another route we felt good about. We should have made the play and we didn’t. We’ve got to make those when those times are like that. The first one was just a check based on what they were in, which we had done pretty much the whole second half.”

On facing Zach Mettenberger:

“He was good, and he was certainly good in our game last year, but he certainly has improved. The offensive mentality has changed a bit. They’re certainly playing their strengths of winning one-on-one matchups to the outside. You have to load the box to stop the run. Mettenberger isn’t missing many open receivers when he has them. He’s making very, very good throws and managing the game extremely well. He’s one of the better guys we’ve faced this year. On the Johnny (Manziel) front, he’s as good as I’ve ever seen. Dave (Wommack) has been in the game a long time. He’s very, very difficult to defend and prepare for.”

On injuries during the Texas A&M game and having to play inexperienced players:

“They haven’t played a lot of snaps this year. It was very difficult. First of all, let me talk about Serderius (Bryant), and the amount of support that’s been poured out from not only the Rebel Nation, but the A&M family, and other families throughout our conference. It reminds you that the goodness of people is still out there. Even though we battle extremely hard in recruiting and in games for victories, a lot of people still recognize there’s a lot more that’s more important. We appreciate those prayers and thank God that all he has suffered is a good concussion. He certainly had one and was knocked out, which caused all of the concern. When a kid is knocked out, you’re not certain exactly what the extent of injuries could be. He was back in meetings yesterday. He started our protocol this week of how you come back from one. We’ll see how he progresses through the week. With the other injuries, you see other teams that go through it. Unfortunately, we’ve joined the ranks with them. We had a lot of kids out, from Serderius and Robert Nkemdiche. Temario Strong, who was playing a critical role for us, was out in the second quarter. Jeff Scott goes out on his second carry and had to leave. Mike Hilton, who had a huge role in the game for us, goes out, as well as Issac Gross. Barry Brunetti’s shoulder just kept getting tighter and tighter. He took that hit on the sideline and didn’t feel good enough to go at the end. Chief Brown, C.J. Johnson and Carlos Thompson; we’ve got a laundry list. With Aaron Morris already out, we’re certainly reeling a bit in injuries. We had to call upon some folks in the fourth quarter that haven’t been in those environments before. We put some offensive linemen in there at the end on the field goal attempt, just trying to piece things together. It’s part of the game. You sure hate it. You hate it for the kids. You fear that because of our depth issues that we won’t be able to adequately represent the progress that we’re making against these top teams. That’s part of the game. We won’t blink. We’ll get everybody ready that can play. I know they’ll compete with great passion for our university Saturday evening.”

On injured players that are out:

“Almost all of the them. I’m not sure about Barry. I don’t know that he injured it any worse than it was. Hopefully he will be fine. Issac will try to go, I’m sure. I doubt Temario will make it; Robert, no. Serderius, I’m not sure, C.J. probably not, Carlos definitely not and Hilton is doubtful. We’ve got a challenge ahead of us.”

On Serderius Bryant:

“I haven’t spoken to the doctors today. I just spoke with Pat (Jernigan) in our staff meeting this morning. I felt like they would treat it as a normal concussion. What causes you to be knocked out with a concussion? I don’t understand all of that. I’m not certain that I can answer that adequately.”

On concussion protocol:

“When you come in, you take a test they have. I can’t tell you exactly what the test is, but it gives you a baseline of where you are at normal function. Which for some of our kids I’m not sure what normal is. You have the baseline. When you have an injury like this, you go back to that and do the same test. It tells you the variance and things. The farther it is from what he tested on the baseline, the farther he is away from playing. When you get to where that baseline is very close, you turn to doing some physical activity and testing again to see if there’s any symptoms – dizziness or things – that you may be having as symptoms from it. When the baseline is close, he’s then cleared to participating again.”

On O-line play against Texas A&M compared to Auburn:

“We were better. We did some different things that hopefully helped them fit their skill set a little better, some of our guys anyway. They played fairly well. We really only had one really bad protection in the pass game. I’ve said from day one, whenever you can effectively run the ball, your pass protection is going to get a lot better. That’s what we were able to do enough in that game to keep us balanced somewhat. They definitely played better. Hopefully we can continue to improve.”

On Serderius Bryant’s game before injury:

“I’m extremely proud of him. He runs to the ball as passionate as any kid that we have. He’s a solid tackler once he gets there. He finishes play. To lose him, not only in that game, but to be without him going forward, would be a big hit to us. I’m proud of him for the person he’s becoming, too, on and off the field. He’s making much better decisions for himself for how he goes about living and the social responsibility that we’re trying to get our kids to understand. I’m proud of the year he’s having.”

On backup QB:

“Going into it, we’ll see how Barry feels. He’ll say he’s going to go, I’m sure. As far as practice this week, I don’t know exactly. DeVante (Kincade) will get the nod should something happen. You always struggle with what’s in the best interest of the kid. We have to also look at what’s best for our team with six games left to play. We feel like we’re still inching forward in our progress and getting better. Having chances to win, we would probably not hesitate to put him in if that’s what’s best for our team.”

On dropped balls by receivers:

“I wish I knew. When I coached receivers, my last year here, our kids had a phenomenal year until that last game. I can’t tell you why. I can’t explain it. We really hadn’t had any of that all year. Unfortunately this year, it’s kind of the other way around. At least two games stand out in my mind. We dropped some critical balls that hurt us on not continuing drives. It’s something that’s sort of like if you have a case of the shanks in golf. You don’t want to talk about it a lot. We’ll continue to throw and catch and routes versus air. To explain exactly why it’s happening, I really don’t have the explanation. They’ve happened at some bad times for us.”

On defending Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry:

“Our corners have played much better. I’ve been really pleased with their improvement. Defending those two receivers, with that running back, is a different animal. You’re going to be put on an island quite a bit. Again, our goal will be - like we did with (Mike) Evans – to try and eliminate the number of explosive plays they have. We’ll have to manage the game that way. They’re good enough that they’re going to win some of those battles. You have to commit people to help with the run game, also.”

On Charles Sawyer:

“He had a pretty solid game. He gave up too much cushion a couple of times on plays that we felt like should have been three- and four-yard gainers instead of eight. He did not get beat. He played extremely hard and sound. It was a decent game for Charles. His role will continue to improve. We’ll need him this week for sure.”

On Freeze’s interaction with fan:

“I was asked about that after the game and didn’t handle it very well. I was really shocked that after that game we just witnessed that it was part of it. There were a lot of factors to that. I don’t think it’s typical of me. We had just lost a gut-wrenching game. We had a kid go to the hospital that wasn’t moving. We had six kids injured during the game. There are certain experiences in life that you would probably rather your wife and daughter not experience. That was one of those. Probably wish I could have kept more composure and still had a conversation. I will defend our program. I will defend our kids. I will defend my family. If I offended anyone, I’m certainly sorry. I don’t think I was disrespectful to anyone. I just got my point across. The greatest thing about Ole Miss is family. That is our selling point. It is working. Every time a recruit comes on this campus with their family, we have a chance to get them because the strongest thing we have is family. I have disagreements with my family. There is a way to go about those things. The greatest thing about family is you can have a disagreement and move past it. There’s no question in my mind that everyone in the Ole Miss family wants us to get to a certain spot. We are on the way. I know everyone’s expectations were different coming into the year. I preached all summer that we’re still thin at places and this schedule is brutal. Right now we could be staring 1-5 in the face with the teams we’ve played. We also could be 5-1 right now. We’re 3-3, but the expectation level when it’s different than what happens, some get frustrated. When you have 80 plays in a game, they may agree with 75 of them and disagree with five. I don’t mind that. I get that. Sometimes I agree with them that it was not the right thing. If we really all want to get to where we want to go, the way to go about it is not a public demeaning of a player, program or staff. Email me. I’ll try my best to respond to it. We all want to get to that place, and that doesn’t help us moving forward. Our kids know that. I said all summer, ‘When the expectations are not met, frustration will set in.’ All of us were frustrated. I don’t think there was as much to it as some media would like to make. They’re looking for a story. I will defend our program. I will defend our kids. I will defend my family. I wish I had been more composed. I apologize that I wasn’t at that time. I will try not to let that happen again. That’s not the first time I’ve been yelled at, of course. I have nothing against the individual. I would love to talk to him because we’re family. We’ll move forward.”

On targeting rule:

“We sent everything in yesterday. Everyone is struggling with it. The officials are struggling. I do understand Trae (Elston)’s being called. At the time when it occurred, he launched a bit in an upward motion. I kind of can accept the penalty whether it’s called targeting or a late hit, like it used to be. I kind of understand that one. Keith (Lewis)’ on the other hand, I have a hard time with that one. They did the right thing in not keeping him out of the game. That was certainly borderline at best. I think it will be revisited after the year. One of those was a third down. Everyone is struggling with it a bit. I understand the intent of it, though, to protect players.”

On confidence level after three tough losses:

“Confidence is a very important thing, as you know. Being a coach at any level, your teams are going to be better if they have confidence. Yesterday was pretty good. I know our coaches and how we’ll handle it. In talking to Coach (Paul) Jackson this morning, he was pleased with the attitudes they had in workouts yesterday. I just keep coming back to the experience I’ve had with these kids. They will bounce back and will fight. That gives me confidence to walk out there tomorrow with the same swagger we hope to have every Saturday.”

On readiness of DeVante Kincade:

“I’d be comfortable with some things. We’ve yet to see how he’s going to respond in front of 62,000 and against a rival of your school. I don’t know if that’s fair to him, to expect miracles. He’s going to be a very good player. I wouldn’t hesitate to put him in if that’s what’s best for our football team.”

On package for DeVante Kincade:

“The only way that DeVante would be the backup is if I felt like we didn’t have Bo (Wallace) or Barry available. If we have both of those guys available, we’re certainly not going to burn a redshirt on a young man that I don’t know would be further ahead of either one of those in game-type situations. You never can tell. I would not have a guaranteed package for him. We would just have him ready to play.”

On Qunicy Adeboyejo:

“I’ve felt all along he’s going to be phenomenal. He’s a special kid and a special player. I love his family. He fits with us, and he’s a talented kid. It’s just a matter of who do you pull off of the field right now. That’s a good problem to have. We’re trying, just like with Barry, to have a package that Quincy is involved in, in getting him more reps. With the grind that we’ve had, one of the things you’re seeing – like with Robert and even Serderius – is kids playing way too many snaps in a six-game season because of our depth issues. Evan Engram is playing way too many snaps. That’s kind of what we’re in right now. We’re trying to make sure Donte (Moncrief) and Ja-Mes (Logan) get a break from time to time.”

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