Out Of Conference

Hugh Freeze sat at a table to meet the press Monday afternoon. Normally he stands at a podium.

After Saturday night’s finish and five consecutive Southeastern Conference games since early October, maybe it was time to get off his feet for a moment.

Certainly the Rebels, now 7-2 overall and 4-2 in Southeastern Conference play, need a break. But they won’t allow themselves to believe that comes in the form of playing the Presbyterian College Blue Hose on Saturday at 11 a.m.

There’s an open date a week after that before traveling to Arkansas, then closing out with Mississippi State at home.

So there’s no sitting, just preparing, as Ole Miss gets ready for its final non-conference game of the regular season, still with some bitter disappointment in its collective nation after a 10-7 loss to LSU and a 35-31 loss to Auburn.

Had the Rebels won those two, they’d be in the mix for a national championship. Now, only preparing for Presbyterian matters.

The philosophical and spiritual Freeze, in his third year as head coach of the Rebels, had this to say.

“I tweeted this out this morning, that if you choose to love something, it means accepting the inevitable that there will be some pain and loss,” he said. “That’s the way life is.”

Certainly there was no more painful way to end a game than what Ole Miss experienced Saturday. The loss of the game, the loss for the rest of this season of star receiver Laquon Treadwell to a leg injury and surgery as he was headed in for the potential winning touchdown, the likely loss of many of their major hopes and dreams that really weren’t expected when the season began but had built through the first seven games of an undefeated campaign.

And now two consecutive close losses. The one at home Saturday as brutal as any forever at Ole Miss. Freeze and company press onward.

“It also means when you love something, it gives you at times great joy and hope,” he said. “I think that‘s a great lesson for all of us who were involved in that difficult evening to remember. We were inconvenienced (Saturday) night because of the love for what we do. Our kids will no doubt respond as our coaches will. And we look forward to continuing our journey.”

That continues this week as the Rebels prepare for the Blue Hose, heal up some of their troops, and get set for an open date the week after that.

Freeze Frames:

* On Laquon Treadwell: “He had surgery that night. Appreciate the doctors and everybody attending to him that promptly. Jill and I went down there early Sunday morning. Some of his teammates stayed through the night. The outpouring of love and support that Rebel Nation and others have given him has certainly been heartwarming. He’s dealing with not being able to play any more this year and in his mind feeling he was in the play that let us down - certainly we don't feel that way - but he has to deal with all that. He's a tremendous young man. We’re looking at four or so months of recovery time I am told. Hopefully he will be ready to go for spring ball.”

* On some calls the refs make: “I will say this. I tell my three children all the time life's not fair. As far as the calls, our officials work extremely hard at being the best at what they do. I have confidence in the leadership they have in Steve Shaw. It is frustrating at times. I do have confidence in them. You get frustrated when you see certain things. I make bad calls too sometimes.”

* On Vince Sanders moving forward in a bigger role: “I think he will handle it well. Vince is one of the more underrated players in this conference. He made some plays Saturday night and had other chances. I think Vince will respond extremely well. He had some good things to say to our team yesterday as a quiet leader.”

* On other injuries: “The list is long. I'Tavius and Trae both had concussions and have started the process to come back. Laremy’s partially torn bicep, one week was not quite enough for him. We’re hopeful this week and next week he will be ready for the last stretch. Aaron Morris didn’t finish the game and is getting some tests done today. Don't think it will be anything to keep him out for the remainder of the year. Ben Still is day to day. He was playing on one wheel pretty much.”

* On the message to the team heading to last three games.: “Don't blink. Play the next play. Keep pressing on. We’ve lost two games by a total of seven points. Had the ball bounced our way, we'd be sitting in (Auburn's) position. I'm a big picture guy. I’ll continue to talk about our journey which is still young, in my opinion. I’m excited we're relevant again in a short time here. This conference is tough, this half is difficult, and it's not over. We've just got to worry about us and continue to stay the course and not be discouraged.”

* On Fahn Cooper: “Fahn played solid moving to left tackle. Made a couple of mistakes, which is a little bit understandable. He played hard and played solid.”

* On allowing so many yards rushing the last two weeks: “The best answer I can give you is we're playing some pretty good teams. Certainly we've made some mistakes. Nobody wants to hear anything that sounds like somewhat of an excuse. But when you play six straight night games in this conference, it takes a toll on you mentally and physically. Sure would be nice to have a break somewhere in it. I'm not saying that's the reason, but it does take a toll. And you've got to give other guys some credit.”

* On playing Presbyterian and how do you schedule teams like this and when?: “That's a better question for Ross (Bjork). I'm not even sure how the open dates arrange themselves. We'll treat them just like another game. It counts and it matters. The fans need to be here to support these young men. We're excited it's an early game, I'll tell you that. We can get up and go play. It's an important game to the ones who are healthy. We need to feel great going into the open week (after Presbyterian).”

* On Chief Brown: “There was definitely some rust. When you haven't played for seven or eight weeks and made a tackle against an SEC team, it makes a difference. There’s going to be an adjustment period for sure. Glad he's back with us.”

* On Presbyterian: “You'll see a team that's very similar to Auburn defensively in what they do. On offense, they do a variety of things, some that we can mirror easily. They play hard, they're disciplined, they don't make many mistakes. Physically we're a better football team. Doesn't mean you always win. We have to go earn it.”


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