Monday with Hugh

Hugh Freeze said Boise State is the toughest assignment he’s had yet to prepare for as a head coach.

“This is the hardest game to prepare for I can remember,” said the Ole Miss Rebels’ third-year head coach. “New head coach. New coordinators. No common opponents. It has been rather difficult. Boise is a really good team. They're a solid team and it's going to be a great challenge. We’ve tried to prepare for everything.”

Boise State has a first-year head coach. Bryan Harsin, a former quarterback for BSU and assistant coach for ten seasons, returns after an assistant coaching stint at Texas and one year as head coach at Arkansas State where he was 7-5 last season.

Freeze spent one season – 2011 – as head coach at Arkansas State before returning to Ole Miss as head coach, where he had previously served as an assistant coach.

Harsin was co-offensive coordinator when Texas came to Oxford in 2012.

“We’ve studied quite a bit of every staff he’s been on,” said Freeze. “You can bet they’ll be sound at what they do. It’s not as comfortable as you’d like for it to be. He’s been an offensive guy, so you’d think it would have his flavor to it.”

Freeze said he recalls two years ago on his return to Mississippi and how he felt after coming from ASU.

“(Harsin) just experienced it last year at Arkansas State,” he said. “Anytime you go into your first game, like when I came first here, it’s a situation near and dear to you. Certainly you have a desire to deliver. I’m sure he’s battling some emotions. I still do that every year.”

Freeze was asked if he and his staff had focused on better production in the red zone than the Rebels had last season.

“We’ve been very good in the red zone (before). Last year we were not,” Freeze said. “You’ve got to be able to run the ball. With some of the defenses you’re getting down there, it’s very difficult to throw it. You have to find ways to run the football. Your offensive line has to handle a lot of different looks down there. We’ve tried to come up with packages we thought were sound. Hopefully our kids will execute them.”

Freeze said classes beginning today for the semester is a positive for his players.

“I’m glad school started today,” he said. “It’s the first camp I’ve been through to not have school going on (for at least part of camp). The last thing you want your kids to have is free time. We’ve tried to get all our work done and keep them busy through three weeks of camp.”

And entering year three at Ole Miss, with a 15-11 record which is a dramatic improvement over the previous two seasons of 6-18 before he arrived, Freeze is ready for Thursday night.

“I’ve found myself very anxious to get going,” he said. “I’m excited it’s almost here. It’s a great opportunity.”

More from Freeze:

* On Tee's surgery: “It went really well. The doctors feel good about it. He’s back in class today and starting rehab tomorrow. He's doing well and getting ready for next season.”

* On Stringfellow or Morris: “No final word from the NCAA on either. At this late juncture we would have a hard time getting them ready to play.”

* On Cody Prewitt's experience: “He's a good player. We all know that. We feel very comfortable when he's in the game that the back end will all be on the same page. We haven't always felt that way. There have been some mistakes made back there. He understands what we’re doing very, very well. He will be the leader back there on all the adjustments we have to make.”

* On the wide receivers: “The guys we’ll depend on in this game are Laquon and Vince along with Cody and Quincy and Markell. Those guys will carry the bulk of the load. Hopefully we can stay healthy there. We’re hoping Collins will be back next week.”

* On the accomplishments of fall camp: “Our kids are hungry. We're excited about our plans. We like what we do. We like our kids. We hate we lost Chief and Tee and Carlos Davis for the year. No doubt we're deeper. We’re excited about being able to bring pressure (on defense). Our secondary is improved. We’ll see how we do in a game. We got everything accomplished. It’s now time to make sure we're fresh Thursday night and ready to go.”

* On Issac Gross’ status: “He practiced Sunday. We're confident and hopeful. He didn't feel any extra soreness from practice. We'll test him out again today. I think everyone is ready to go that isn't out for the year.”

* On the freshmen who should play Thursday: "Rod Taylor, Marquis Haynes. CJ Hamilton. The Moore brothers, Gates, Webster, Pack (depends on how game goes but will play this year).”

* On D.T. Shackelford and Christian Russell: “Excited. I think DT’s as healthy as he’s been since I’ve been here. He wants to win in the worst kind of way. As long as he can control his emotions, you want him to play with an edge. If he gets our fronts set right, I think we’ll be fine. Christian is a tremendous athlete. He doesn’t understand everything quite as well as DT does. He can make up for some mistakes because he runs so well. And he’s coming on in both regards. Both are going to be solid players.”

* On DT’s comeback to play once again and be back where he once was: “He worked so hard in the offseason to get himself to this point. In fall camp he’s as healthy as I’ve seen him. There were times, though, I seriously doubted he would get back to what he used to be.”

* On not as many freshmen likely playing as in the past: “They all want to play. You explain redshirting to them, and most understand that. We hope that continues to where we don't have to play as many. You want to do right by the kid. If we stay healthy and a kid has four years remaining, that would be the best. We have an open conversation with them to let them know where we are.”

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