From the Locker Room

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and select players met the media following the Rebels' 27-16 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday.

Hugh Freeze:

Opening statement: “Compliments to (Vanderbilt head) coach (Derek) Mason and his squad. He’s doing a really nice job there. I really like that guy. He’s all that’s good about coaching. He cares more about the mentorship of his young men. He had his kids ready to play tonight, and the effort they gave is complimentary. We didn’t have ours prepared as well, particular in some critical areas like third down. Tight red zone, we scored some points there, but we’ve got to be more efficient. Penalties were something we haven’t done all year. We were top two or three in the nation in penalties and we have 11 tonight for 120 yards. Turned the ball over tonight, and that’s not stuff that’s elite football. We just didn’t play real well, and I have to start with myself and look and say that I didn’t prepare them enough. We didn’t have a good third-down plan. We’ve got to correct that. But I will say, like I told them in there, you celebrate the wins in life. Life moves too fast. You better enjoy the ones that you get and celebrate it and learn from the things we did not do well. If we really want to be elite, we’ve got to prepare like we’re an elite football team. We had an awful Wednesday. I thought we had an OK Tuesday. We need the leadership in the locker room to help us with that, for sure.” On the play of Chad Kelly: “The interceptions were two really, really bad reads. We have to coach him better, for sure. He threw a fade into the boundary against a cover-two safety. Both of at them, same coverages.” Any hangover from Alabama? “Again, a lot of credit goes to Vanderbilt. They’re a better team than people give them credit for. Last week’s game took a lot out of us. We got back to Oxford at 5 a.m. We had a lot of banged up kids that didn’t get to practice some during the week. All of that is something every other team has to go through. Did that have something to do with some of our play? I don’t know. I just know if that’s the case we’re going to have a long year. This is week three and we don’t have an open date until about 10 games in. We’re in for a grind. We have to prepare better. I do know that games do take a lot out of them.” On third down struggles: “We struggled with their two-man twist that gave us pressure. They went two-man a lot. We didn’t either have a good call for it, or we didn’t win in the areas we needed to win in. The whole thing needs to be evaluated. Coach (Dan) Werner does a great job planning for those. There are times I’ll have to help him if need be, but Vanderbilt had a good plan tonight. We had some bad calls on third down so we had very little chance at times.”

QB Chad Kelly:

On the lack of rhythm offensively: “We’ve just got to prepare better. They did a good job doing stuff that we weren't really prepared for. But that’s what teams do - they scheme against you, they try to mix you up a little bit. We’ll come back. We’ve just got to move on and get ready for the next game.” Was there a hangover from Alabama? “We’ve got to prepare better. They did some stuff that we were not prepared for. They showed it in a couple games last year, but they didn’t show it at all this year. That’s on me, personally. I take full responsibility for today’s game. But a win is a win. Just got to get better and get ready for Florida.” On third down struggles: “They’re a heckuva team. They always play good here. They always play us really good. It’s all on me. I’ve got to get better personally. I made two mistakes, interceptions that can’t happen. You can’t turn the ball over. You’ve just got to be more prepared. I wasn’t prepared at all for this game as much as I should be. I’ve got to get better.” On his two interceptions: “Just two high (safeties). I make those reads every single day in practice. That was just out of character. You get better, you learn from it and you don’t make those same mistakes again. Just got to get ready for Florida.” Why does the offense struggle in the red zone? “I don’t think it’s struggles in the red zone. I think we just have to execute. The coaches do a great job calling the plays. In practice we work what we do. I missed on a throw today to Quincy (Adeboyejo) in the red zone; could’ve thrown a better ball to Laquon (Treadwell) a couple of times. Like I said, it’s all on me for the offense not going the way it should be. We’ll all come back and get better.”

RB Jaylen Walton:

On the game: “That’s what I’m here to do, is to make big plays for my team. It just comes in handy in those types of moments to win big games.” On his determination tonight: “I like to compete, especially against the best. With the first two games, the competition wasn’t as high. I would’ve liked to get 10 to 12 carries in each of those games. But I stayed healthy through those games, and tonight we came out with a win, and I ended up having a pretty good game.” On his focus and attitude towards running the ball: “I always harp on, with me being my size, be someone today. I watched (LSU running back) Leonard Fournette and the way he ran, so today I was going to see if I could do the same stuff. I’m not comparing myself to Fournette, but just my mentality to just run the ball really hard. I’m probably 100 pounds less for sure, but his mentality is to run the ball hard, and my mentality is to run the ball hard, too, so I just wanted to try and put my team on my back and get a W.” On what it takes to get ready for Florida: “I’d definitely say preparation. It starts Sunday. It starts tomorrow. So we’ll watch the game and have a good workout. That plays a big part for next Saturday because we need to be mentally and physically ready for the game. “

WR Cale Luke:

On his blocked punt tonight: “First, I’d like to thank God for an opportunity to do this. I want to thank coach (Hugh) Freeze for putting put me in the position to make the block. I saw an opportunity and took advantage of it, gave it 100 percent, and found an opportunity to get the ball.” On what the team tries to do on special teams to block punts: “We’ve kind of established a game plan to block the punt. Sometimes, we’ll blitz eight people trying to go block the punt. We got through a few times tonight, and finally we got an opportunity and got one.” On the tradition of his family, and the meaning of his play tonight: “My whole family has been here. My uncle, my grandfather, my dad, they all played here. I’m glad I get a chance to carry on the family difference tonight and make a difference. In high school, I never really knew if it was going to happen or not. I just decided to walk on the football team, and gave my all every day. It paid off.”

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