Hugh Freeze (photo by Joshua McCoy)
Nov. 12, 2012
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday and discussed the Rebels' upcoming SEC road game at No. 7 LSU on Saturday.
"Obviously when you lose a close, tight game like we did Saturday night, every decision is magnified. There are so many things that we've learned in a couple of losses this year and this game is truly a game of inches. Whether it's a missed field goal by this much, a five-yard penalty, they make one by that much or a first down that they get by very little, you go through all of those things and certainly wish the outcome was different. We continue to be very, very proud of our young men. One of the things I know that is definitely true to our staff is we can't afford to be in the results-oriented business. It has to be about the process and the state of our program when we got here. There's too much at stake in the lives of these young men that depend upon us to prepare them each week for manhood and for football games. We continue to strive to set the core principals and foundations for which our program will be built on. Nothing will change this week as we prepare for a very difficult game against LSU. I'm proud of the attitude our young men had yesterday and excited about coming in and finishing our season with two great opportunities."
On wishing the Rebels would have thrown the ball a little bit more:
"We threw for 403 yards so that's a pretty good day. We threw it 50 times. Anytime you lose, there are things that you can look at. I've seen people mention about running it too much on first down. We ran it 21 times on first down and threw it 16. That's pretty balanced. In this league you have to be a threat to run the football. Some of the runs we called, if you understand our offense, are in the decision making of some young men sometimes who don't always make the right decisions. We have to look at ourselves and make sure we're coaching them better. We should have taken some quick throws to the outside, but we didn't. To be close to 50-50 is pretty good. We averaged 4.23 yards on first down, which should keep us on track for our tempo. We got 90 plays in the game so we were doing OK in that regard, also. We did have two sacks on first down so that's the danger. Our average starting field position was the 17. Their punter did an outstanding job. To me he was the MVP of that game. We started nine possessions inside the 20-yard line. When your defense is playing well, the last thing you want to do is put them in a hole by turning the ball over or something. We probably could have thrown it a little more, but it wasn't as skewed as it seemed. Everything is magnified when you lose a game in the manner in which we did and as close as it was."
On just how big the game against LSU is:
"I know our kids understood yesterday that this game means a lot to a lot of people. We're going to trust that we can impress that upon them this week as we prepare."
On depth issues:
"We're down now with Ferbia (Allen)'s injury to about 59 scholarship players, and it does show up at the worst place that we're hit, the back end of our defense in the back seven. The only place we're really rotating some people is in the interior defensive line. On the back side, we're not afforded the opportunity to rotate a lot of kids. With the rigors of this schedule that we've had, you get beat up, your legs are not quite as fresh and you're not getting as many breaks, and it does show sometimes. We can't use that as an excuse or a crutch. We have to fix that in recruiting, which we will. Right now, we have to press on with what we have."
On things that could have been better against Vanderbilt:
"We always look at the film and think we should have blocked this a little bit better and it would have been a positive run, or the running back should have put his foot in the ground and got us four yards instead of minus one. At times you have to tip your hat to them when there's a run-stop blitz called and there's not a lot you can do about it, particularly if you don't make the right decision at the quarterback spot to take what they're giving you within our offense. There are a lot of things that you can look at like that. Everybody is going to have an emphasis on stopping our run game. We're two dimensional and the stuff we do is very effective. That's why you try to run, because the minute they think you won't, you're going to have some issues with protection or struggle some with it anyway."
On the progression of Vince Sanders:
"He, Ja-Mes (Logan) and Korvic (Neat) are coming along nicely, and everybody knows Donte (Moncrief)'s ability and potential. It is a very welcomed sight to see Vince, Ja-Mes, Korvic and those others perform very well. We're excited that they're all getting better and that they still have years to go here. That makes for a bright, bright future at that spot."
On Jeff Scott's run game against Vanderbilt:
"There were a lot of times where we wished he had maybe made a different decision on where he put his foot in the ground and ended the run. Our whole premise of our offense is staying on schedule. Whether it's a two-yard gain or minus one is big in the scope of things for us. We'll watch the film with Jeff, we already have. That's another kid that we're probably playing too many snaps. He's probably not as fresh as he once was. I know at his frame, he's sore. He's taken a lot of hits. We've got to evaluate helping him understand what would be a better decision on this run and at the same time give him some rest."
On the confidence level in the reserves to give Jeff Scott rest:
"We should. The thing with Jeff is you know that he could pop one at any moment. I don't know that we feel that way about everybody else. We will in time, but we should have enough confidence to get them in a course of the game."
On Woodrow Hamilton:
"He's probably about 80 percent. He made a few mental mistakes the other night, but physically he did his job really well. The times that he made mental mistakes were probably just him being rusty from not getting a lot of reps in the last seven weeks. No question, physically he was OK."
On making sure the team is prepared physically, mentally and emotionally for the last two games:
"I can't stress the point of how much it took for them to get to this point. If you look at the improvements we've made in so many areas from last year to this year, which goes to the kid's credit. They've really given all that we've asked. I have no doubt that every Sunday they've done exactly what we've asked in bouncing back and putting the past behind them. That locker room and the coach's locker room was a painful place on Saturday night, we don't run from that fact. We have to be process-oriented and not result-oriented because there is too much at stake. Not from just a football standpoint, but from a standpoint of how you're maturing as young men and how you handle your daily businesses when you're disappointed. This process is way too important for us to get caught up in the results that may or may not occur. They bounced back fine yesterday. It's been a long season with our depth issues and that is a concern, finishing strong. We have to make sure we're wise in the way we're practicing them, the length of our practices and what we're asking them to do these last two weeks. There's no question that we're fatigued a bit and physically beat up. We'll make adjustments in our practice schedule to make sure we get them enough rest to make sure we're at our best the next two Saturdays."
On the reaction to being 5-5:
"I hate losing. If you would have told me that we'd be at five games with two to play back in the spring, I probably would have taken that as would the rest of Rebel Nation. When you start having success, it builds the expectations for all of us and then we want more. I don't blame them and we feel the same way. I hope the kids see a consistent man in what he says and what he does. It's not easy when you go home and sleep for 30 minutes after difficult losses. It's hard to recover as fast as you used to. I guess I'm getting older. The people that it is hard on are my daughters. They've been spoiled. They've been at places where they never experienced some difficult losses quite like here. People like Matt Luke, Grant Heard and I, who are tied to this place and so badly want to give this place the best and they do. It eats at you when you think that we were close to getting something accomplished that would be so huge around here. It's difficult on our families. My hope and prayer is that I'll always been consistent in my approach to these young men. The truth is it is just a game. There's so much more at stake for the future of these young men. Hopefully they can see in the example that our coaching staff sets. When you're disappointed, you still can be responsible and accountable to each other in a manner that you hope they'll do when their families have disappointments in life. Life's tough and it doesn't always treat you quite fairly. Hopefully we've been consistent in our example No question, you do go through those moments of difficulty, but you have to put them behind you and move on."
On Serderius Bryant's performance against Vanderbilt:
"He made some really good fits. When we're playing against certain personnel groups, Serderius is as good as we have. You'll see him a lot this week also because of the type of offense we are facing. He had a good game."
On Vanderbilt's winning touchdown:
"Just absolute blown coverage. I was on the headsets with them and thought it was a great call for the coverage we had. Unfortunately our kids didn't communicate exactly well with each other."
On concerns with LSU:
"Their defense. If you look at all of their categories, they are third or higher in all of them. They're just so talented physically and run so well that they can make mistakes and you never know it because of their speed and athleticism. Coach (John) Chavis does a great job with their defense. Offensively, their physical play. We'll be tremendously an undersized team on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Dave (Wommack) and staff will have a good plan. You worry about just how physical they are and the speed of their defense. They're as talented as Georgia and Alabama for sure."
On the Ole Miss-LSU rivalry:
"One of the earliest memories I have is sitting in the stands and hearing exactly how the Ole Miss fans felt about LSU in almost any game. You always remember the Billy Cannons and all of those things. It's quite clear to me the rivalry that this is and how well Ole Miss usually plays LSU. When I was here before, I remember us going down there in a difficult part in our season, but our kids took them into double overtime and Jamarcus Russell took it on his shoulders to win it that night. We were a fumble away from winning that game, but we didn't get the fumble. I know, and I'm sure Coach (Les) Miles will put an understanding on his kids that Ole Miss will come with their best shot. I know they'll be prepared."
On the fourth and two call Saturday night:
"It looked close. The more frustrating thing on that play was we had a shot at him, to get him down well before the sticks. Obviously that's another one of those things, when we talk about a game of inches. That was a great call by Dave (Wommack), too. He had them pegged. He knew they were going to sprint out and try to throw a quick pass. We rolled the coverage to it and it was unfortunate that we didn't get him on the ground."
On not having a large senior class:
"It would help if you had some older kids who had been in these battles, particularly if you had some older kids that had experienced some success. This time next year when you start talking about Charles Sawyer and some of those guys that have had a little success this year and will be hungry. That will be beneficial to us and certainly it would be this year if we had that. We're playing a lot of young kids and really this is their first hoorah with the SEC schedule."
On Zach Mettenberger's performance over the past couple of weeks:
"The Alabama game gave him huge confidence. I expect him to continue to be a threat to throw the football like he has the last few weeks. He's been very good at it. Anytime a quarterback gets confidence, it makes for a dangerous situation. He's got athletic receivers that can beat you in a one-on-one setting and will force you to be in one-on-ones with their power game. We're going to be caught in that position again, where we have to win some one-on-ones and hopefully eliminate the big play when they do throw it."
On Bo Wallace's progression throughout the season:
"You look at his stats and you think that he had a pretty good game and he did. In the situation we're in, every decision is magnified. Every decision I make is magnified as well as every decision he makes is. He would tell you that there are three or four decisions that he would love to have back. Some may have resulted in touchdowns, which would have been the difference in that game, if we would have scored a few touchdowns instead of field goals. There are a lot of things they were doing that may have confused him some. Some of those first down decisions where some of those runs may have been some screens to the outside and could have given us some more positive yards. He's definitely improved. If we win that game, everybody says what a game he had and he improved. When you lose that game, you look at those three or four things that he may not have done right and they all get magnified and we want to say maybe he didn't have that great of a game. He had a great game, he competed. I wish I had some calls back and he wishes he had some decisions back. We wish the running back would have done something different. We wish the secondary would have done something different so it's not just Bo. Bo gave us a chance to win it. Could he have improved our chances with a few better decisions? Certainly."
On having so many recruits on campus this past weekend:
"The good thing is these young men know our situation and know we're very thin on scholarships. They see that we're competing week in and week out in the toughest conference in America. Hopefully they see that they could be the difference in getting us over the hump. That's our message to them. It went really, really well with all of those guys on Saturday."
On not letting talk of the sixth win cause too much pressure on the team:
"It's something you wish wasn't talked about as much. It is what it is. As we approach these next few games, it would be nice to have that out of the way, but we don't. There's still a lot to play for. You want it so badly for the fans, but also for the few seniors that we do have. You want the young ones to experience what that is like because we need the extra practices. We need that badly, to start building our program. You want to send those seniors out on a nice positive note like that, as well as it would give our fans some needed positive things."