Freeze Frames

Hugh Freeze has spent the better part of the last three months getting to know his players. Now that he can actually coach them on the practice field for spring practice, he wants to know more about them.

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There are aspects of the squad he hopes to be able to look back on after 15 spring work days and see progress.

"I want to be able to say the energy and effort and competitive spirit was there," said the first-year Ole Miss head coach. "That is our ultimate goal. Offensively we've got goals of taking care of the ball, staying on schedule and tempo. Defensively they've got some goals they want to accomplish.

"But the thing I want to be able to say is that there was a toughness about us that affected our attitude. I want them to be coachable, and all that goes into attitude. The last thing I want to see is a team that if they say they really want to compete and win next year, and we are passionate about what we're doing in coaching them, that you can't see a lot of frowning faces or woe is me or pouting. That's not winning ways, and we've got to make sure that if they know I am passionately on them, that it's no personal. Hey, the guy cares and he wants to help me and I'm going to embrace that."

Freeze knows ultimately that is what will help this team now and down the road.

"When the kids embrace that, they'll eventually become their best, whatever that is. So all of those things to me are the priorities for the 15 days that we have."

Freeze said he wants the best his players have for the 15 days of practice.

"Getting out on the field and spending time putting in our stuff offensively and defensively, installing and just trying to create an attitude of competition for 15 days," he said. "The one thing we'll ask of our kids for those 15 days is to bring great effort and great energy. Nowhere in that have we asked for perfection execution or perfection in their assignments. But we do expect to get great effort and great attitude. Those are things we can control if we do make a decision to control those things. It is a choice of your attitude and a choice of the kind of effort and energy you're going to bring if you walk up those stairs to that practice. We expect and demand great effort and attitude for those days."

Freeze said he and his staff are ready for spring practice.

"Very excited to get out tomorrow and get going. Should be a great weekend. Our coaches have worked very hard to put a good plan in place the first round of installations we'll have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then Sunday we get to put on some pads and that will be even more exciting."

Aaron Morris
Bruce Newman

Freeze Frames:

How's the health?: "Medically a few players are out for the spring, but only a few. D.T. Shackelford, Keith Lewis, and D.J. Bailey appear to be the only three."

What's up with the signal-callers?: "This is not a cop-out. I say what I mean and what I'm thinking. I really don't know where things are right now. I know I have said from day one we have to create a great competition in that room, and I expect to do that this spring among with Bo (Wallace) and (Barry) Brunetti and (Zack) Stoudt and (Randall) Mackey. Where it goes from there and some of the decisions they've made on and off the field and academically will affect some of their reps. Whoever takes the first snap tomorrow I promise you it has nothing to do t them being the lead candidate for the job. We've got to get better play there. And we've got to do a better job of coaching them. I have a lot of trust in Dan (Werner). He is one of the best fundamental quarterback coaches I've ever been around."

The offensive backfield is a position of question: "You can't full tackle but a certain number of practices. We have to be careful there of how much we're hitting the same tailback. Nick Parker has lost 20 pounds and is working really hard to hopefully get a look. Devin Thomas is hungry to prove he can do it also. We are thin at that spot and we will have to evaluate daily where we are and how much contact we can afford at that spot. But spring practice is to develop a toughness and a mindset, and we've got to get that accomplished."

Academic holdouts: "We're going to take each case differently. There will be some kids you won't see this weekend. We're trying to set the standard for academic success here. That's the most important thing they're here. We want to send that message loud and clear."

OL replacements: "Aaron Morris and Pierce Burton are the two most naturally gifted tackles we have. That's who will start in spring ball. And Emmanuel McCray. Terrell Brown we've moved back over from defense, and he's worked hard." From the diamond to the gridiron: "Jimel Judon has been a joy to work with since coming over from baseball (to the offensive line). His high school didn't have a team. So I have no idea how he will respond the first time that defensive end comes off and comes after him pretty hard. I know this, athletically he moves around about as well as anybody we have."

Paul Jackson and his strength program: "I think we hit a home run and I couldn't be more pleased. Innate ability to relate to those kids and yet be very successful with them."

Percentages they can put in this spring: "Probably 50 percent of the offense. Dave (Wommack) feels he can get in 75 percent of the defense."

The downfall last season, is it talent or mental?: "I think both. I know the mindset has to change. On that talent level, I'd rather wait until we go out there and see. Comparing it to the last time I was here, the team looks different, he team looks different than the last time I was here. So I would say it is a little of both."

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