Freeze Previews Fall Camp

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media to preview fall camp Wednesday afternoon. Included is the full transcript of his some 30-minute session.

Opening Statement...

"Ladies and gentlemen, it's good to see you again. It means it's the kickoff of another fall season here, and we're excited about the opportunity we have. I told our staff this morning that I know of very few professions that have the chance each year to really be involved in the building of young men. It's something that I hope and pray that we can keep at our forefront, that we really keep in mind the impact that we're making on young men extends far beyond just their lives but to the lives of their future families and kids and the people that they will come in contact with, many of which will be leaders in communities.

Our theme this year is take a stand, and the first thing we're talking about today is being teachable. That goes for our coaches as well as for our young men, having teachable spirits that we recognize that each is a reflection of the others in that room. That goes for coaches, players, managers, and hopefully we'll be very engaging and cutting edge as coaches. Hopefully our young men will grow together.

I think that we have a talented football team, and the thing that will separate a lot of teams in this conference and that we are playing, which are all talented, very talented, will be the chemistry that is formed throughout the next 20 or so days in fall camp.

So what do you do to make sure you're a little better every day in the chemistry aspect, and we've thought out of the box a good bit. We've got some unique things that we're going to do to make sure we're building chemistry among us that hopefully helps us embrace the expectations that have been placed on our program in year four. That's a compliment to our kids and our staff and to our administration and their vision, to everything that's gone into the first three years. We're thrilled that our expectations have risen a bit in the time we've been here, and hopefully we can embrace those, develop tremendous chemistry throughout our team and staff, throughout fall camp that will hopefully help us when we get into the battles, the inner workings of our team in the locker room, and as we're around each other in off the field situations. I would like to see that be a bit better this year. Not that it was bad at any moment, but I just really want us to depend upon each other and have a we before me mentality.

I'll challenge them tonight that this is their job, that they owe this University and the people that are affording them this opportunity with bringing something to the job every day, and we as coaches have to bring it every day. We can't expect them to and us not, and I think our staff is itching and ready to get going in this 2015 campaign."

On how chemistry could have helped late last year in dealing with adversity...

"We can't control the injuries that we have that affect our team. I do think our depth is better this year than it's ever been since we've been here, but I go back and I look at myself and everything that went into the end of the year, and I certainly learned some things I would do differently. The chemistry was good, but handling adversity, you've got to have people in that locker room that make a difference when those times happen. We're going to try to do some things throughout this fall camp that prepares a leadership group to be ready for some of those, but real life is that at some point in this life, they'll be hit with adversity. I will, you will. If we live long enough, all of us will, and we're not exempt to that, but how we handle it, certainly we need to be preparing for those moments."

On the quarterback situation...

"We'll certainly rotate them. Ryan will take day one. He'll take the snaps with the 1s, and we'll just rotate. We may even rotate drills on day one. We'll talk about that some more tonight, but he'll take the first snap. But all are going to get reps with the 1s for sure. One of the toughest things that I struggle with in talking to other coaches, I think it's pretty common, is you feel like you have a pretty good football team, and as I said in that staff room with our coaches, my mentality is get your guys to the bus for the games, and the other mentality is I've got to get them ready to tackle and block and all those things, and really I don't know many ways to do that other than to be really physical. We had an extremely physical spring. Every single day that we were afforded the opportunity to put pads on, it was physical, and I've got to really do a juggling act with that. I know that's not what you asked, but the quarterbacks will rotate. It does play into that because we really need to see those guys get some live bullets. At the same time you want to get your team healthy to the games. We'll rotate days, chart everything, and evaluate the film, see how they do in the scrimmage situations."

On Chad Kelly fitting into the team chemistry...

"Like I've said all along, you don't know until you put him in those situations. All I can tell you is to this point I could not be more pleased. The guy had a 4.0 GPA this summer, had a 3.6 in the spring. One of the strength staff's favorite kids, finishes first in every drill. He's just like a lot of us, has made some mistakes in the past and is ready to hopefully move beyond them. I think he deserves that opportunity now."

On how imperative is it for a quarterback to take charge and take control of offense...

"I really believe the SEC West has seven top 25 teams. I think the team or teams that will emerge to be the top will be the teams whose defense is the most stingy in the red zone and whose quarterback plays the best. I don't know that I can overstate the importance of our quarterback situation, us finding the guy that can hopefully make us efficient."

On Aaron Morris and the OL taking the next step...

"They have to take a step up. This league is so good, defensive front wise, but we need to get better and more efficient in running the football, and I think it is the year. Now again, hopefully you stay healthy. But we did our first year, and we ran the ball pretty good. We didn't the last two years. We have more scholarship kids now, which our goal is to get 16 on scholarship in that room, and we're getting closer to that. I am confident coming into camp that we're healthy. Aaron is the only question mark in my mind right now. Everybody else is ready to go. Aaron is ready to go at some things, but any time you've had two knee surgeries, you're just not quite sure. Everything looks good right now, but I've got to see him go out there and get it done. We should be better, and I believe we will be. We recognize that as a staff, we've put an emphasis on it, and I am excited to see them go about their business."

On Javon Patterson...

"We put him right behind Aaron for a reason. I believe in him strongly."

Offensive goals in fall camp...

"Find a quarterback. That would be number one. Establish our identity in the run game. What do we feel good that is something we can ask our young men to do. We look at our running schemes, and gosh, we've got every blocking scheme known to man. I told our guys the other day, let's just find the three that work for us. I think those would be the top two, and then developing chemistry that really separates us in the touchy feely moments of college football that we talk about that captures the heart and the mind outside the lines. I really want to separate ourselves in that regard.

On young guys who might contribute...

"I hope we're at a point where we're not depending upon that for our success unless we have injuries of some type. I think we've got depth. I love the receivers we signed. But our depth in that room right now today is pretty good. I like the DBs we've signed, but hopefully our depth in that room is pretty good. Some are going to have to play, but I stand here today where in the last few years I could rattle off some names that I'm sure there will be some surprises and we're going to play the best players, and I like our recruiting class. We had 17 guys in summer session and we had 17 A's in June term with those signees. I think we've got the right type of kid. The July term there were 13 A's. I like the guys that we've signed, and there will be some surprises that stick out for us, but I sure hope in four weeks' time from now that we're not having to rattle off a bunch of those names to depend upon for a lot of snaps."

On if all the signees playing tomorrow outside of Anderson and Clemons...

"Yes, we're planning on everyone being here, and everyone is going to be here unless they have travel problems tonight. They should be back already."

On if Aaron Morris is the only one that's even questionable as far as health wise...

"Offensive line, yes. Talbot Buys, one of our offensive line, we're going to and Eric Swinney. Those are the three that won't be able to go, two of them can't go in camp right now. Eric is having his surgery, and Talbot is still about two weeks away probably from a surgery he had on his foot. Aaron is going to go day-to-day as to how much he does. That's it right now."

On how many times this off season he's been asked about the quarterback situation, and any favorite stories...

"I told a group at one of these road trips, it was one of those days, I think, where I had been asked that question probably 15 times, and I said, I've decided on a starter, and everyone's ears perked up, and I said, I'm starting all three. So the first play of the first game, I'm going to have a play where all three are out there, so y'all can remove the suspense. All three are starting the game. I don't know if they knew how to take it. They kind of just sat there. But I might do that. I was actually playing at that time, but it kind of sounds like a good idea. I'm just going to start all three and we'll come up with some fancy play for them."

Just the general sense of how Treadwell feels getting ready to get out on the field tomorrow...

"I like his demeanor right now. I think he feels confident, feels like he's worked his way back into being in top shape. He's lost some weight, feels better about that, not that he was heavy in my eyes, but I feel better about it. I'm good with it. Someone asked me earlier today did I think he would come back this fast, and to be very candid, I really can't say that I feel that way yet because I haven't let him do anything. They would have released him in spring, but no way I was doing that. I'm about as anxious as anyone to see what happenes, but the reports I'm getting from his workouts are that he's ready to go."

Long time until your first bye week of the season. Do you feel like the team is built for a long run of games like this?

"There's no way I can say. If I had my preference, I would much rather have the bye week in a little different spot, but it's the schedule we were given. I know that we're better prepared for that type of run than we have been the previous three years, but you never know how the grind will affect you and how the injuries are going to go. But looking at our depth chart, we certainly are better prepared for it than we have been."

On guys being drafted...

"Our brand certainly has changed since I've been here, and nationally Ole Miss, we're a factor now, and we're not going away. We're going to continue to identify people that fit with our program, and we're going to continue to work our tail off every day to sell this brand in a positive light of what we can do for your son and the people that are involved in our program long after football, not just in between the lines. I do think that's kind of where we hopefully can separate ourselves somewhat. You've got to find your niche. You've got to be true to who you are.

This will only help our process in seeing the things that I've told people like Laremy (Tunsil) and Robert (Nkemdiche) and others in the recruiting process, and to see it play out exactly hopefully like we talked about is really rewarding. It's rewarding for the program. It's rewarding for the young men, for their families. We want them to make wise choices, and certainly we're going to try to educate them like we always have to the best of our ability and make sure that they're getting great advice when that time comes.

But I certainly hope that that's the least of their worries when we start tomorrow. Their résumé will take care of that. Nothing else. The résumé that they put on the film will decide whether all that stuff has any validity to it or not, and that's the only thing that will decide it. That's what I hope they hear from me every single day. It's your résumé and you're making it today.

On going faster on offense this fall...

"We watched our cut ups the other day from spring, we were extremely fast, so we have the capability. I did not like the position I found myself in at the end of last year trying to go from slow to fast. You've got a defense that's giving up for most of the year 12 points a game, it doesn't take a lot of rocket science to figure out that if that defense is that stingy, you give the opponents lesser and lesser opportunities, you're going to have a chance to win some games. And so we kind of played to our strengths.

We are prepared to go extremely fast. That is my personality. It's what I would like to do. It's when I'm the most comfortable. But I won't do it just to satisfy my personality. We're going to do what we think gives us the best chance to win, but we're going to prepare from day one to go fast."

On rotating two quarterbacks to play faster...

"We're going to find out what our strengths are and what gives us the best chance to win. As I've proven, I'm certainly not afraid to play two. If that gives us an advantage in any situations, we will definitely do it."

On position changes, predictability of formations and tightening up practices...

"On the position changes. D.K. Buford is going to tailback from the secondary. I think that's the only one.

On the second question, I don't know what LSU said. I talked to Coach (Les) Miles the other day and he didn't say anything like that to me. I don't know what LSU said. And TCU, Coach (Gary) Patterson and I talk frequently, and we were fairly predictable at some formations in that game. He was exactly right. It's hard for me to coach with the distractions. I don't know half the people that are standing around there when we have an open practice. That's difficult, and I don't know of many that really do it. I'm probably as generous with that as anyone I would think. It's just a distraction, and it's a little paranoia probably, most coaches are paranoid to begin with. But I want to coach Chad Kelly hard, and I want to do it the way I need to do it. If I need to yell out what he should have done and what it's called, I want to do that, and I want to be protective when I do that. So I guess there's some of that to it."

On balancing physicality of league with fall camp and avoiding injuries...

"There's no answer to that. I wish I had it. I think you've got to judge your team, kind of see how they're handling it when you go thud. Are they practicing good techniques, or if you're watching film and you're in a thud period and you see in one period eight times that there's supposed to be thud but he's not in a position to make a good tackle on a player, we've got a big problem probably. We've come up with a lot of tackling drills that we use every day that doesn't pose a risk too much to our young men. We'll do a lot of that, but man, I'm not planning on tackling a lot to the ground if I can at all keep from it."

On the receiving corps...

"I don't know yet because I can't go out there and do seven on seven with them now, but coming out of spring I challenged them and thought we needed more consistency out of them. We'll find out in fall camp. I think we have the ability, or I wouldn't say that. I really wouldn't. If you have a group of men that have trusted in you and to come to play for you and they're doing all they can with what they've been gifted, I would never say that. Those young men we need more out of them. To whom much is given, much is required, and they're a talented group. We need more out of them, and I think we'll get it."

On Laremy Tunsil, health wise and eligibility wise...

"He's going about his business in a great manner. I think he's healthy. He's fully released to go on day one, and like I said, nothing has changed since the last time we talked other than, I think, the case was settled. I don't wish discourse in any families that we deal with or any period, and I'm glad to see it got handled.

As far as moving forward, whether it's with law enforcement, NCAA or our own University, we are fully cooperative and confident, again, in the way we do things, and we'll continue to be, should something else arise. But he's ready to roll right now."


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