Hugh Freeze Press Conference: 11.25

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze

OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM
Hugh Freeze
OLEMISSSPORTSDOTCOM

Nov. 25, 2013

Ole Miss football head coach Hugh Freeze met with the media Monday to discuss the Rebels' upcoming battle with Mississippi State.

BLOG: First Look At The Egg Bowl

Opening statement:

"Thanksgiving week is always a very enjoyable week for a lot of reasons. I shared with our team yesterday.  They're supposed to present me a list of three things they're extremely thankful for outside of football and outside of just normal family. That's our message of the week is having a sense of gratitude for all of the great things that we're so blessed. It's a great week. I enjoy it because they're around us more. We get to spend more time with them. Certainly you don't have them in classes and tutoring, which allows you to hang out with them more and spend some quality time with them after a grind of a season. Thanksgiving week brings the Egg Bowl, one of the most historic and greatest rivalries in college football. We're extremely excited about getting back on the practice field today. We have a quick turnaround to get ready for a game in Starkville on Thursday night. We know the task at hand is going to be a great challenge. Certainly we're excited about getting down there and playing."

On watching film from Missouri loss: 

"We had our chances. There should have been some really good plays. Whether the back didn't hit the proper hole or one guy slid off of a block a little too quickly or just didn't get the job done. There were some opportunities there to have some really nice plays. We just didn't get it done. Three or four that stand out in my mind were our fault. You have to give them some credit. The scheme was a good scheme at times and they beat us. That happens at this level. There were three of four times you just have to say we executed very poorly or we could have had some really nice runs that would have converted for us. Some of them would have been explosive runs. That didn't make me feel great. We've put it in the trashcan, and we've got to move on."

On Mississippi State's quarterback situation:

"I really don't know exactly what is going on. I know that they've been resting Dak (Prescott) the last few weeks. The other two have played in the last few games. I saw where Tyler (Russell) left the game last week at the end. I have no idea what the significance of that is. We've got to prepare for all three. Fortunately, two of the three are very similar and do the same things. The other is still similar. They're like watching us on film. They do most of the same stuff that we do. You don't like not knowing. You wish you knew. That's the situation we're in. We've got to prepare for all three. I don't do a good job of keeping up with all that is out there. We're going to prepare for all three. It does present a little different challenge."

On Mississippi State's changing coverages with new coordinator: 

"They're a little different than they were last year. There are some similarities up front in the way they do their fronts. They'll still do some of the same stuff but the percentages are different. Having said that, every game we've played, people seem to be different against us than what we've seen on film. I don't know exactly what we'll get. They have the capability of making it exactly like last year's. That hasn't been really who they are to this point. It has changed a bit."

On Mississippi State's defense: 

"Their length and size of their front. They're one of the longer defenses you'll face. Their linebackers are 6-4 or 6-5. Their front is huge. It's very difficult to win one-on-ones. You've got to create some double teams. Their backers a pretty good at running around and making plays. In the passing game, they do a great job in spot dropping. They're so long, those windows to throw in don't stay open very long. They're an excellent defense. It's been proven that over the last few games they have improved. We'll have the same game plan. You have to take care of the ball. They're great at going and getting turnovers. We've got to find a way to be balanced so we can be effective in throwing. The last thing you want - with who we are - is knowing you have to throw. Same stuff that we say every week on that. They're a very talented defense." 

On Bo Wallace's health:

"I haven't seen in him today. We've been on lockdown with the coaches all morning. He was a little better yesterday, not well, but a little better. I'll see him in just a little bit. We start meetings here a little bit after lunch. Hopefully he'll be better."

On Laremy Tunsil's health:

"He looked good. He'll be fine."

On illness: 

"He was the only one last weekend. We didn't let him travel back with the team. We put him on a van and brought him straight back to the training room to keep him isolated. We didn't make him come around our guys on Saturday at the hotel. We have the sinus stuff and that going around. As far as having a fever and the symptoms that he had, hopefully we'll stay clear of that."

On momentum the program gained after last year's Egg Bowl: 

"Considerable amount. If you don't have the opportunity to play in the bowl game with the extra practices and to be on a bowl game where recruits can watch see. For several recruits, that may have been a determining factor in their decision. The overall confidence and feeling from our fans and our people that are around it. We created some momentum from that game last year. I think it was a considerable amount."

On impact the Egg Bowl has on in-state recruiting: 

"It goes in cycles. It depends on the kid. Some kids have natural tie-ins and maybe affection for one more than the other. It may motivate them more to go help the school that they have affection for. I've seen it in some cases, if you're talking 15 recruits or so, you may have one year where five it matters to and 10 it doesn't. It's going to come down to relationships, their affection to that school and their family ties. I've seen it work both ways. I don't think there is any recipe you can put on it. I know that it doesn't hurt. It's going to help you with some. By the time February rolls around, there are a lot of things that have occurred. A lot of people have made decisions and relationships have been built. It's not the only factor. I know that it doesn't hurt. It will help in some cases. I don't think it carries with we won so we're going to get a certain amount."

On Mississippi State having to win to become bowl eligible: 

"The Egg Bowl is always going to be as high as you get in a given game. Certainly with them having to win to go to a bowl like we were last year. If it's possible to ratchet it up a little more, it's possible. That's something that would do it if it's possible. I don't think you have to have that to make this game feel emotional. If there's anything that would make it more it would be those factors."

On Robert Nkemdiche

"He's a freshman. There's no question his talent level is exactly where we thought it was. He gets frustrated when he doesn't make plays that he feels like he had a chance to make. We had plenty of chances the other night defensively. We had them 50 yards or so at halftime in rushing. For them to end up with the rushing yards that they had was very disappointing. A lot of it had to do with us missing opportunities on what were ten yard gains to be minus twos. We had a couple of guys that didn't fit gaps properly the entire second half. That was a bit frustrating. Robert's year has been very solid for a freshman. The other night I thought he showed glimpses of really good explosion and technique. He didn't finish plays quite as well as he or us would have liked. Hopefully that'll come this week. With the loss of CJ (Johnson), everybody up there took a little hit. We don't have the gifted one-on-one pass rusher anywhere. People can slide protections anyway they want to against us right now. They really don't have a lot of fear that we can win a lot of one-on-ones. It's who we are right now. With that in mind, he's had a successful, solid year. I probably thought we would have had a few more tackles for loss and sacks when we were in fall camp with everybody healthy like Carlos Thompson and CJ. When stuff like that happens it changes the dynamic of your team. Just like Evan Engram has totally changed who we are right now offensively. Everyone goes through those. The whole team suffers some when you lose some of your teammates. That has hampered his year a bit. He's had a solid year."

On Cody Prewitt:

"We saw him last year start improving and play solid. He had some really nice games. It didn't surprise us that he's had a solid year. He's had a very solid one. If you ask him, he's dropped several interceptions. He could be up toward the top in the nation right now. We're happy for him. We're very thin at that position. We're fortunate that we've been able to keep those three guys that are playing back there healthy. Cody has certainly had a good year."

On how losing Evan Engram changed the passing game: 

"We've got to get in recruiting and get that solved. It has changed us. We're a bit more predictable. People don't have a lot of fear of some of our tight ends hurting them in the passing game, which changes their box and the way they can commit to stopping the run. It has changed us. We definitely miss him."

On young guys understanding the importance of the Egg Bowl:

"It's very important. We started that as soon as the game was over Saturday night. We'll continue up until game time. They'll get baptized really well Thursday night into understanding it. It's a process for those younger kids. We'll do everything we can possibly to make them understand it for sure."

On confidence in Jaylen Walton and I'Tavius Mathers in run game: 

"I couldn't be anymore confident in those guys. I really believe in them. They're solid backs that are making some explosive runs for us, gaining yards after contact and breaking some tackles. I'm real confident with Jeff, too. I know their confidence has grown. Really pleased with those guys." 

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