Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 10.28
Oct. 28, 2013
Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels' win over Idaho and upcoming bye week.
"I'm excited about an open week believe it or not. I usually like to play, but I feel more excited about this open week than I have in ones in the past. I think it comes at a great time for us. We have a little bit of momentum and confidence, but an unhealthy football team. I do think that we can get quite a few of those players back that aren't year ending type deals. This week will certainly help that because we'll need those guys for this stretch run that we have coming up with the three SEC games and the one out of conference game. It gives us coaches a lot of time to start self-scouting us, and give us a jump start against Arkansas and scouting other opponents, as well as plan what we would like to add, take out or just plan a little differently. We'll also get a chance to look at some young guys in practice too, and get us some depth. I'm excited about this week also because we get to go recruit, which is the life of our program."
On evaluating season to this point
"We could easily have a couple more wins, and we could easily have a couple more losses. You're mind usually concentrates on the ones you let get away, but you have to move on from those. Winning the last two games has helped tremendously with that. I believe we have gotten better at mostly every spot. If you look at the beginning of the year until now I think you could say that Bo (Wallace) has improved. I think you could also say that the offensive line has improved, as well as the defensive line, with the issues we have faced there. Linebacker depth has been a struggle throughout the year but I feel were getting the most out of that position, as well as great play from our secondary. I think our special teams has also been solid. We just weren't able to play our best game in a couple of spots this season, and we didn't finish one. But it's all about finishing, and year two with a young team, I think we've learned a lot from those disappointments, and we've been able to press on and win a couple big ones. I think we're probably ahead of schedule in the journey that I had originally thought of, I know not everybody may feel that way, but if I look at the totality of the season with injuries and our schedule, I think we've gotten better."
On improvement in backup players from SEMO to Idaho
"Part of the maturation process is being able to not be emotionally charged every game, and being able to execute. Southeast Missouri was probably the first experience for a lot of kids, so it wasn't very clean or very sharp. In the Idaho game we did play some starters into the third quarter, but even when we put the bench guys in, I thought there were a lot of positives. I was excited to see all those guys get in, because they deserved it, even a lot of the walk-ons, particularly on defense. It was good to see them get in there and have some fun, and even get two three-and-outs. That was good to see. There were definitely some bright spots, and much cleaner execution."
On status of players for Arkansas
"I'm confident that Mike Hilton will be back, as well as Isaac Gross being healthy. Charles Sawyer we'll hold out this week and Denzel Nkemdiche we held out the other night and I see no reason for him to not be ready. Robert Nkemdiche and Jeff Scott, I'll need to wait until next Monday to better answer that, but we're hopeful on them. Carlos Thompson I am doubtful on, we're getting concerned on his nerve not firing in his arm, so hopefully we can catch on soon and he'll be back in a couple of weeks."
On Bo Wallace's Improvement
"It's been an on-going endeavor since last spring; I think Dan Werner has done a really nice job of decreasing the package so there is no question of what to do and a clear understanding of what your read should be. As the year has gone on we continue to cut back to make sure we put ourselves in position to take care of the ball and there should be no reason for us to not have great understanding of exactly what you're supposed to do and when. I have to give a lot of credit to Dan Werner, as well as those two kids (Bo Wallace and Barry Brunetti). We must always take care of the football, and we've done a good job putting an emphasis on that also. We've also been able to run the ball, which is a huge thing for anyone that understands what our offense is like. When you're able to run the ball it gives you a little more time to throw, and the decisions become better."
On off week
"It's a big recruiting week for us, the opening week we were primarily in state but this time we'll be going other places as well. We'll practice Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and they won't be long practices. Thursday we'll probably get a jump start on Arkansas, but we'll be working on us for a couple of days. We'll return Sunday and get some extra work in as well, and Sunday night we'll get in an extra practice before the Arkansas game."
On emergence of Jaylen Walton and I'Tavious Mathers
"I've always felt that those two guys were solid backs, and I think they've proven it so far. Jaylen and I'Tavious showed me in the bowl game last year that they were what I think they could be, and I've had no reason to doubt that since then. They just continue to improve. I also thought Mark Dodson had some bright spots the other night, I thought he ran with some pop and explosion, so we have some good depth there. He had a chance there and I think he spoke loud and clear he wanted a look. I like that, competition."
On loss of Evan Engram
"We'll have to figure out exactly what we're going to be doing moving forward. I liked a lot of the things we were doing with him but we'll just have to figure out what we can do with the guys we do have at that spot. I think Nicholas Parker, and Matt Brown played well. They're different than Evan, but we have to make sure we ask them to do what they can do."
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