Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 10.21

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Oct. 21, 2013

Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels’ thrilling victory over No. 6 LSU and the Homecoming game against Idaho.

BLOG: Duke, Junen And The Gatorade Cooler | BLOG: 'Put It Away And Move Forward'

Coach Hugh Freeze

Opening statement:

“I’m extremely proud of our kids and our staff. After watching the film, it’s probably one of the most complete games we’ve played since we’ve been here. We made a few mistakes that caused it to go down to the wire. You can’t control some of it. We wish we had the two turnover back and the low kick by (Andrew) Ritter, which made him coming back and getting the game-winner that much more special for him. He’s a Mississippi kid that had a quite good understanding of this game. It was good to celebrate with him after the game. Bo (Wallace) played his best game since he’s been here. I could only find two things to complain about. Hopefully we can get those cleaned up and him play an even more complete game in the next week. Dan (Werner) did a great job with him all week of making sure he understood exactly the plan. Our receivers played much, much better. They won a lot of matchups. I can’t complain about a whole lot. Defensively, you can’t find anything to complain about because being as shorthanded as they were and holding that unit, who was a leader in our conference in most every category, to the number they did. It was a phenomenal effort and plan. Again, I’m really, really pleased. We’ve got to put it away and move forward. That gauntlet that we’ve gone through has taken a toll on us some physically and mentally. We certainly need to continue moving in the right direction in all areas. We have a team coming in this week that I’m sure they will like they have nothing to lose. They’re playing in an SEC home and have a chance to make some noise, just like many teams did last weekend. We don’t want to be on the other end of that. So we’ve got to regain our kids focus and elevate our concentration to do little things right. It’s unreasonable for you think you can get young men up to their maximum emotional peak week in and week out. That’s not a reasonable expectation. A reasonable expectation is they’re going to play extremely hard and with some level of focus. I don’t think we did that really well early on in the season, when they had a game where they felt like they should win. I expect us to change our mindset a little bit on that. That will be clearly communicated all week.”

On injuries:

“We lost Evan Engram for the year, which is a tough loss for us. He was on track to be a freshman all-American. He had already broken the school freshman tight end record. It’s difficult. He’s a tremendous kid. He was very important to our scheme. We don’t have another one that’s like him. That can win some one-on ones in space and do the blocking that we were asking him to do. Everyone knows the situation we are in at that position. It’s a difficult loss. It’s even worse when you know what these kids put in preparing and working. He’s such a great kid and is going to be a tremendous leader for this program for years to come. As you visit with his mom yesterday and the hurt they’re going through, it’s something you don’t want to go through. It could be worse. He can be back, hopefully by spring ball and get ready to go. He’s having surgery today. He’s through for the year. CJ (Johnson), as been announced, is done for the year. Aaron Morris is done for year. Then we get to the Serderius Bryant, who is still waiting to be released from the concussion protocol. Robert Nkemdiche will not play this week. Carlos Thompson will not play this week. Mike Hilton is questionable. We’ll have to see how he does this week. There’s a possibility he could. Cameron Whigham is questionable. I’m not sure who all we’re going to play in the defensive line. We’ll piece it together, and they’ll play hard. He’s questionable. I’m not sure on him. Keith Lewis I think will play. He probably won’t practice tomorrow, maybe not even Wednesday. Jeff Scott, we feel like he has a chance to play. We’ll have to see how he does in practice. At this point in the season, we have to manage the risk associated with playing someone a bit early, particularly if you have some depth at that spot. If you don’t, you have to play them. At tailback we have some kids that can manage our offense and do some things for us. I don’t want to throw him out there and him miss another game, especially with that open week coming. There’s a lot of thought that will go into that one. Denzel (Nkemdiche) will miss a day of practice. Charles (Sawyer), same thing.”

On Nick Parker:

“Nick is a joy around this program. He’s loved by his teammates. He makes people laugh. He goes to work everyday. He’s a local kid. When he caught the touchdown, there was a lot of excitement and joy for him. His role will increase some, but we’re different with him. He doesn’t do some of the things Evan could do. He can do some things. We certainly will start using him more, and probably Justin Bigham, maybe Nuis (Jack Nuismer). We’re just now starting to get the game plan in. Those will be the three guys that we would see right now.”

On dialing back practice this week:

“Yesterday, we lifted and conditioned. We did not go out on the field at all. We’ll back off. We’ll have the same practice schedule we did last week: 15 periods Tuesday and Wednesday and 13 Thursday. It’s backed off a bit. In my mind, we were in that two-week schedule to get to the open week and hopefully get people healthy.”

On Senquez Golson:

“He’s back at practice. I haven’t made a determination as to exactly what that means in competition yet.”

On Charles Sawyer’s attitude since arrest:

“His attitude has been phenomenal. He’s been frustrated at time that things didn’t happen maybe as fast as he had hoped they would. He’s had to be a bit patient earning his way back. Kids in front of him are playing really well. I couldn’t be more pleased with the way he’s gone about handling it and working and continuing to work to gain a spot. He had a solid game the other night at a critical time for us. We needed him.”

On changing scheme:

“It was a part of it. The way people have been playing us, we felt like if they continued to do certain things to take away some of the things we’re accustomed to doing, they may have issues and problems with that. You still have to block them, which we did some and didn’t do some. That was certainly part of the plan. It ended up being a solid, solid plan for us. Our O-line played well.”

On emotion: 

“We’re not ready to be the biggest, fastest and strongest right now, but we can play with the most passion. I set the tone with our staff everyday in the staff meeting. They get tired of hearing me, but I remind them everyday of one expectation I have. It starts with us and we have to pass that expectation on to our young men. Certain weeks, like last week, when you’re worried that the message may not get across clearly because you come off a very difficult, gut-wrenching loss. You look around and half of your unit that you’re used to playing with may not be with you. You’re playing the top one-loss, ranked team in the nation. As a coach, you sit back and wonder if you can really get them ready to do it. You have doubts you have to fight yourself. You call on every resource you can think of. Luckily it helped us that it was LSU. It was something that means a lot to the rivalry and tradition of this program. We typically don’t have team meetings every single day during the week. We did last week to try to make sure we were prepared emotionally. We knew emotion would have to play into it for us for us to be able to win. I do think our coaches are pretty good with that. We try to be consistent in our message to them daily.”

On recruiting:

“To get where all of us want to go, you’ve got to have players. You see that in every school when injuries hit. For whatever reason, last year, we didn’t suffer hardly any. Last year, Missouri suffered a horrible injury plague and they weren’t the same team. This year, they’re not having any and they’re a very good football team.  If you look around and you don’t have adequate depth, it’s very difficult to get to the higher echelon of this conference, even if you stay healthy. The whole deal for us to get where we want to get, we’ve got to get players that fit with us and buy into our program. They’ve got to be quality. For the most part, out of the 20-25 that you signed, you better be good evaluators of the talent and of the fit that they’ll have. You’re going to miss on some. You may not be 100 percent that they’re a right fit. You may miss on what you expect them to become. You can’t do that on many. A win like that, against a program like LSU, in the presence of a lot of recruits, certainly helps validate our message that we’re close. We need some help. My first thought usually goes to recruiting.”

On Derrick Jones:

“He did good. He’s an athletic, big, strong, good looking kid. He has a phenomenal future. It was a tough baptism by fire, guarding Odell Beckham and (Jarvis) Landry are two difficult matchups. He stayed over the top. He didn’t get beat deep. He gave up some passes, but we knew that was going to happen. He missed one tackle. He had a chance to make a tackle in the open field and missed that. All-in-all, to find out you’re going to be playing Friday morning a considerable number of snaps, you’re a true freshman and you’re going against a school rivalry, great receivers and a great offense, he passed with flying colors.”

On Bryon Bennett and his role in the future:

“I wouldn’t say the rest of the year, but I’d say this week there’s a good chance. He had his best game by far. He had a high motor. He played a lot of snaps. He played with more passion. It was evident to me in watching that game compared to some of his others that he showed he had a great care for what was going to happen that night.”

On Lavon Hooks:

“Much better. Like a lot of kids, the lights came on. He had more opportunities to be better. A lot of kids do that. He still plays a little high. No question, he played better than what we had seen out of him. That’s good to see. He’s another great kid. We’re glad he’s with us. We hope he continues to improve.”

On confidence going into the LSU game:

“Every morning at the hotel on game day we have a staff meeting. We go through our normal routine of devotion and prayer requests that people have sent us. On Saturdays, we turn our attention to the game. We go through and talk to each position coach and get a feel of where we think we’re at. I try to build a confidence among them so when they leave there and they see our kids for the first time on that morning. As I lay in my room all day that day, you have to fight the doubts. You know how good the opponent is. You know that your kids are going to play hard. Did we have enough depth and enough kids to make plays to be able to pull it off? I did feel like we were going to score some points. I felt good about Dave (Wommack)’s plan. I wasn’t sure. Can we just stop them from just running over us with kids playing so many snaps?”

On third down conversions:

“It starts with the plan. I have to give Dan Werner a lot of credit. He focuses pretty much all of Tuesday and Wednesday on third down in his study. That’s where he’s a huge resource and a valuable guy to me. His quarterbacks understood it. Bo did a great job of getting the protection set the right way. Matt Luke, I have to give him credit for that.  He had them pegged on this is exactly where we need to set our protection. We had very few times where he was wrong. It started with them, and our kids executed. Bo used his legs better this game than ever before. Bo played smarter. It was a good plan by our coaches. The O-line protected well. Receivers caught the ball. Bo used his legs. It was a combination of all of that.”

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