Hugh Freeze found himself in an unfamiliar position last season.
He felt he had to adjust what he likes to do - go fast all the time on offense and slow things down - because of several factors.
"I felt I had to be prudent last year. We had a defense that was only giving up 12 points a game. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out with a defense that stingy you need to give the opposing offense less opportunities and put less pressure on that unit, so we played to our strength," he noted. "Consequently, we slowed down some on offense, which was against my personality. I want to go fast all the time - that's my personality.
"I won't do that just to satisfy my personality though. We will do what we think is best to win. This year, we will prepare to go fast more than before and we feel we have the team makeup to do that more so than in past years."
Freeze said it was all so easy when he was an offensive coordinator.
"I was talking to Gus (Malzahn) the other day and we were talking about how being an OC is a pretty good gig for a coach," he smiled. "We didn't have to worry about anything but doing what we wanted to do on one side of the ball.
"It's not that way as a head coach. You have to be able to see the whole picture and do what is best for the whole team. It's pretty easy to sit back and say 'fast all the time,' and know that will help the offense, but will it help the whole team and will it help you win more games? That's the balancing act head coaches have to determine."
If the Rebels go fast on offense this year, that will suit Defensive Coordinator Dave Wommack just fine. Last year, not so much. This year, fire away.
"You do what's best for your team and Coach Freeze has a great read on what we need to do to win," said Dave. "On defense, we are prepared to do whatever we need to do this year. If Coach Freeze wants to go faster this year on offense, I believe we can hold up on our side of the ball and still be effective.
"I believe we have the depth to handle that this year. I thought he made the right call slowing it down some last year. I did not think we had enough depth on our side of the ball to handle a bunch of three-and-outs, if that were to happen, from a fast-paced offense. This year, I do."
Wommack believes spring training, where the offense went extremely fast most of the time, helped his defensive unit immensely.
"I always loved going against Hugh at Arkansas State because you learn to communicate more efficiently, get your calls in quicker, adjust personnel more quickly and learn to get ready for any pace," he continued. "Bottom line, I am very comfortable we can hold up if he decides to go fast all the time this year."
OC Dan Werner is like Freeze - he wants to go faster than last year, but he says that call will be up to Hugh.
"Of course, as the OC, I want to go fast. I like tempo football and the advantages it brings to an offense, but at the same time, I also understand that you have to give your defense a fighting chance too. Coach Freeze is very good at determining those things," said Werner. "I have learned to trust his judgment on when to go fast and when to slow it down, for the good of the team and to give us the best chance to put wins up."
There's little doubt, based on spring training and the comments from Media Day today that Freeze and Werner desire to speed things up on offense this year and Wommack believes his defense can take the extra pressure that might create.
Will they carry that out? It remains to be seen, but all the pieces of the Rebels playing more tempo football seem to be in place.
Fast. . . Faster. . . Fastest. . .
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