Freeze Monday

In the last few weeks, Arkansas, Ole Miss' next opponent, has made substantial improvements and has won their last two SEC games. That somewhat mirrors how the Rebels have advanced recently. Read Coach Hugh Freeze's Monday press conference inside.

The following are the highlights from Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze's regular Monday press conference prior to Saturday's Ole Miss-Arkansas SEC football game in Little Rock at 11:20 a.m.

Freeze's Opening Statement: We are excited about coming off the open week and trying to get ready to play Arkansas. Little Rock is a difficult place to play - they have been very, very good there. They are playing with great confidence right now, coming off two wins where both sides of the ball and special teams have played extremely well. They have NFL-caliber players at certain positions that grab your attention when you are watching film of them. Coach (John L.) Smith and his staff have done a good job of rallying them after starting off with some difficult times. I'm expecting a great test and a great battle.

Q: Did your injured players heal up the way you anticipated during the open week?

Freeze: I hope so. We are still waiting on a couple of kids, but we have one more day of treatment before practice tomorrow. It was a good time for an open week. I expect everyone back tomorrow with the exception of those out for the year.

Q: Where has Arkansas specifically improved?

Freeze: Defensively, they are playing a lot better and they are taking care of the ball on offense. The offense has moved the ball on everyone, but they struggled with taking care of it, like we have in our losses. It's hard to win in this league with turnovers. They also have excellent star quality in QB Tyler Wilson, WR Cobi Hamilton, TB Knile Davis, TB Dennis Johnson. They have great talent, they are taking care of the ball and their defense has gotten better.

Q: Arkansas has two starting LBs out for the year. How does that affect them?

Freeze: Their front four is very talented and physical. They do a good job against the run. I'm sure it hurts them some, but I am impressed with the kids who are playing. They have quality backups, but I am sure they hate to lose leadership in the kids they lost, the guys replacing them will be ready to play coming off two weeks to prepare.

Q: Talk about QB Bo Wallace and how he has gained the respect of his team. Also, how has his leadership grown?

Bo Wallace
File Photo

Freeze: He has done a nice job of gaining their respect. The kids have confidence in him because he's a competitor and they know he will compete every snap. Taking care of the ball lately and directing some critical drives has added to his leadership. He still has to continue to do those things, but no question the players have confidence in him.

Q: Is your defense better equipped to handle a high-powered offense than they were earlier in the year?

Freeze: We have gotten better. I think we have gotten a little better every week. We are still short on depth in a lot of places and that shows up from time to time, but our coaches and kids have done a nice job of making game day adjustments to try to slow down or stop what the opponent is doing. Nobody has really stopped Arkansas when Wilson has played and is healthy. We have to be very good at not allowing big plays and we have to be stingy in the Red Zone. We have been decent in the Red Zone and we have to continue that. We are better equipped because some our young kids, particularly on the back end, have gained experience. They are still a tall task for us.

Q: How has Charles Sawyer done since being moved from safety to corner?

Freeze: He's done a nice job, solid. We were able to do that because Trae Elston and Cody Prewitt have continued to improve. When Chief Brown gets snaps, he has been consistent. We will move Brishen Mathews back there this week to safety with the emergence of Mike Hilton at Husky. Dehendret Collins and Hilton will be at the Husky. Brishen can play both and give us more depth at both positions.

Q: Talk about Davis and Johnson, the Hog backs.

Freeze: Knile is a big time back with power and speed. He's physical. Johnson is more like Jeff Scott with his lateral quickness. They are both home run threats, but different at the point of attack.

Q: What is the deal with Dehendret Collins and not playing against Auburn?

Freeze: He made a poor decision and we are big on accountability. He paid the price and we will move forward from there.

Q: Talk about DC Dave Wommack.

Freeze: I have great confidence in Dave. He's got some challenges here with what we inherited depth-wise, but he understands what offenses are trying to do to us and he always has adjustments. He's a very good compliment to me. I'm emotional and he's calm. His experience is invaluable and I am very pleased with the job he is doing.

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