Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 11.18
Hugh Freeze

Nov. 18, 2013

Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels' win over Troy and upcoming showdown with Missouri.

BLOG: Tough Test In No. 8 Missouri

Coach Hugh Freeze

Opening statement:

“It’s an exciting week for us. You get in this game as a coach and as a player at this level to play in exciting atmospheres, and also against great competition. All of those ingredients are in play for this week. We’re going to enjoy the preparation for it. Hopefully elevate our kids’ focus for a great task at hand against what I consider to be one of the most well-rounded teams that we faced. There are really no weaknesses in this Missouri squad. The job that Coach (Gary) Pinkel and his staff have done is to be commended. Their kids play extremely hard. They’ve got great schemes. They make you earn every single thing that goes your way. We’ve got a great challenge. It is at home, which I know our people are going to embrace. We certainly need the Vaught to be rocking and to be an electric atmosphere for our football team. We’ll need a little help from that aspect. We’re really excited. We had a great staff meeting this morning. We talked about embracing the challenge and the platform that we’ve been giving. We’re excited about preparing for it.”

On being in the top half of the league in statistics:

“I haven’t looked at all of them. The major ones, I think we’re up there in the team categories. Reality is with the injuries we’ve had, we’ve had to piece things, particularly in the in the defensive line and at linebacker. We’ve had some quite difficult challenges from week to week. For them to still be up there in the top half in all of those eam stats speaks to the job that our young men and our coaching staff have done. Hopefully it talks about the attention to all aspects. We’re rushing the ball fairly well. We’re throwing the ball fairly well. We’re scoring some points, but we could have a few more. I do think we’ve improved in all of those areas, particularly in the challenges that we’ve faced. Defensively throughout the year, from the very start, they’ve continued to improve. The stats speak of that. That is something that we’re proud of. It doesn’t mean you’re going to win games in this league. There’s no team in this league that doesn’t have good players and good coaches. You’ve got to perform the next week. It is another sign that we’re in the right direction.”

On Saturday:

“The mode we’ve been in the past four or five weeks is to make sure the plays we have called, if executed, they’re not negative plays. If we feel like we can do them at a fast pace, and that’s advantageous for us, we will. We haven’t gone extremely fast. Missouri has the capability of going really fast. It could turn out to be that way if both are having success. We’ll meet this afternoon and we’ll discuss all of that. We’ll be prepared. Basically what we’ve done the last few weeks, it’s been good to us. We’ve worked on trying to make sure whatever we call is sound as far as it shouldn’t be a negative play. That’s going to be huge Saturday night. Their defensive front causes negative plays. They’re as athletic as any we’ve faced, maybe a little faster than some we’ve faced. Their ends are really, really talented players. They’ve understand who they are. You’ll have to earn everything you get. They don’t make many mistakes.”

On James Franklin starting at quarterback:

“I don’t think there’s much difference in them, that’s the good thing. They know who they are. They’ve done the exact same things with their second guy that they do with their first one. It’s not like you’re preparing for two different schemes. They have confidence in both of them and have good reason to. The schemes are going to be the same. That helps in that regard.”

On Missouri’s wide receivers: 

“That’s a physics problem that we can’t solve. It is a concern for sure, because there are times where their guys are just more able to make a play on the ball than maybe some DBs that they’ve faced. That is a great concern and something that we’ve got to figure out what the best answers are when those cases arise.”

On Missouri: 

“Defensively, they stop the run. Very few people have been able to line up and just run the ball effectively. They get you one dimensional. Those ends are quick and cause problems in the back field.  Defensively we’ve got to try to find a way to run the ball effective enough so that we can be who we are and want to be and keep them thinking we’re balanced. We’ve been very effective being balanced as of late. Offensively, they stay on schedule and make you defend from sideline to sideline. Their running backs are better than they get credit for. Their O-line is solid. Those receivers and quarterbacks are on the same page, as well as any unit that we’ve faced. It’s a great challenge.”

On O-line progression: 

“We’ve certainly progressed and we’ve changed. We’re doing a lot of things differently than we did in those two games. We’re more multiple right now. Our guys have progressed. Having not played Missouri, and really not knowing exactly how that measures up between their fronts. It’s hard to say. They’re a scary team to look at on film, especially when others are trying to run it. I do think we’ve progressed and it will be a good test Saturday night to see how much.”

On penalties and sluggish play: 

“We got it solved after the first quarter. It’s a combination of things. There’s no reason that we should be false starting at the receiver position. I understand if we have several checks that take place and you get antsy an O-line. Some of the ones I’m waiting to hear back from the office on a couple that I’m not sure what they were. The way we do things, we snap it pretty quick. I just have to wait and see. We didn’t have any after the first quarter. We adjusted pretty well there. Hopefully we won’t have any. That hasn’t been a staple of who we are. The last couple of weeks, maybe it is a lack of focus at the beginning of the game. We certainly can’t afford to overcome those. We won’t be able to overcome those very much against Missouri.”

On the Missouri game being a measuring stick

“It will be certainly a test. The problem with this league is you look at the teams we lost to, and they are all in the top 10, as is Missouri. We lost one of those by three points and were right in until the end and another by a touchdown when we had a possession. We competed at high levels against top 10 teams. I know the polls don’t reflect that always if you lose a close game against a team of this quality. I don’t know if this one game will answer the question if you’re a top 25 team, but it’s why we compete and have a chance to win it. That’s what we’re asking out of our kids in year two. Let’s go find out where we stand and how we match up with the elite in the nation right now. Hopefully we’ll be in it at the end and see. If you’re in it then it’s a step in the right direction even though you’re judged on what the scoreboard says. The schedule we’ve played LSU was a top 10  team when we played them. Auburn and A&M and Alabama are right now, as is Missouri. We’ve had our share of tests and this will be another one Saturday night.”

On the senior class:

“The buy in from the upperclassmen who ultimately we replace a lot of responsibility on for holding our team accountable for the little things. Last year’s senior class and this year’s senior class, who were the two upperclass groups we inherited here, I couldn’t be more pleased with the buy in that they’ve had. We’ve had some injuries that took place that hampered some of our depth from some of those classes, but as for them buying into the accountability of this program it couldn’t have been done without that. I’ve very grateful in our gratitude to them, and hopefully they’ll experience a great night on our last home game here.”

On Barry Brunetti throwing the ball:

“He’s definitely a different player right now. Much more confidence and certainly helps us. I don’t think if you’re preparing for us now that you’re just going to load the box when he enters the game.  We’ve shown we have confidence in him throwing and running. He’s been effective at it, completing a high percentage of his balls and taking care of the ball, which is what we ask of him. Really pleased with the play lately and do think that that adds an element to preparing for us. We’ll do both with him.”

On Missouri’s sacks and interceptions:

“Sometimes the pressures are creating (some of the turnovers.) They do a great job mixing coverages and making you want to be greedy. If you’re not patient against them, because they’re going to make you go 8-10-12-play drives to get points and they are very good in red zone, then you get greedy and antsy, and most of their games they are ahead and forcing you to throw a lot. They’re stopping the run, so the sacks are coming because when those guys get you in a position where they know you have to throw, their guys are very good at that. It’s a combination. Most teams don’t like to be patient. We want to score. They get you to make mistakes and force something. Their guys are in the right spot and make the play. They are also getting good rush on the passer.”

On Charles Sawyers’ health:

“He worked on individual drills yesterday but didn’t go through team drills but looked pretty good in individuals, so tomorrow will be a good test to see. John Youngblood is back. So with the exception of the guys we’ve lost for the year I think Charles would be the only question mark of who will be ready or not.”

On Laquon Treadwell:

“I think all the freshmen have exceeded my expectations particularly, not so much in physical play, but in their makeup of having no egos and wanting to be a team guy. A lot of times with the way recruiting is designed now with the ego inflation we get from everybody that’s involved in recruiting process you always worry about those kids. Without exception those guys want to be coached and want to be better at their craft and Laquon is certainly just like that. In our system a guy of his talent is going to have success. I’ve been really pleased with how he prepares himself and handles himself.”

On a comparison to Laquon Treadwell:

“I haven’t thought of that. He’s a lot of like Donte (Moncrief) in the physical makeup and how he doesn’t mind mixing up the blocking. Ask me that next week. I’ll have you a good answer. He’s going to be a special player.”

On Missouri’s secondary:

“They are so well-coached that they are in the right spots and the are more of a zone team than a man team. They’re in the right spot and break on the football extremely well. They mix coverages up. They do a good job of disguising and confusing you a bit. They’re athletic back there just like they are on the front. I think it comes back to stopping the run, therefore the opportunities presented to them are much greater than some other defenses we’ve played recently.”

On Robert Nkemdiche:

“He’s gotten more comfortable as the year has gone on. He is getting healthy again. That’s helped. And he’s getting more comfortable with his transition to playing an interior position instead of on the edge. He certainly looked good the other day, and hopefully he’ll play big Saturday night. He’s certainly playing faster and being more comfortable.”

On keys to beating Missouri:

“Run the ball offensively. We’re pretty good when we can run it. We mix in passes and what we like to do off our run game. When we’re not running it, look at Alabama and Auburn games, when we’re not running it effectively we’re not the same team. And obviously take care of the ball and don’t turn it over. The special teams are going to be huge and eliminate explosive plays with their receivers. Jason Jones put together a reel of their explosive receiver play and it’s quite impressive. We’ve got a tall task there. If we can eliminate those and can run ball that’ll go a long way toward us being in this game.”

On Brunetti since last year:

“Confidence always plays a role. For whatever reason he was struggling with timing of throws and even the throw itself even though his arm has always been live. He has an excellent arm and as we’ve progressed in this system and the job Dan (Werner) has done with him and Bo (Wallace) making sure of what we’re asking them to do and having great confidence, it’s all played a role. Confidence is huge, and he’s playing with that now. He feels good about his decisions and the timing of it and his role, so confidence is a huge part of it.”

 


 

 

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