Freeze Frames

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze addressed a number of topics, including the Rebels' upcoming road trip to Florida, in his weekly press conference on Monday.

Opening Statement
“I’m really excited for the opportunity to go to Florida and play a really quality football team. These games, just like I said the other week, test you and your team. The environment tests you. When you have a quality opponent that is very well coached and very confident right now, a team that is ranked in the top-25 right now, it is going to test you. After watching last week’s film, credit to Derek Mason and his improving squad. They are really doing a nice job. He is going to do well. That is a guy that we need in coaching. He’s got those qualities of an individual that people should want their kids playing for. We have some things we need to improve on. Hopefully we can get kids healthy so we can get them excited for a trip to Gainesville.

On his (Freeze's) surreal accomplishments…
“I think society keeps you from pinching yourself. This world with social media and instant gratification, and fans who want you to be what they feel you should be, it keeps you from pinching yourself. Like you said, we started this journey three years and four games ago. I didn’t promise anyone anything then, of what we could get done here, with the exception that you can expect us to have fantastic effort, great attitude and that we were going to try to make this program relevant both in the SEC and nationally. I would say for a lot of us the temptation of wanting something so badly, like our fans do and we do, sometimes we can get obsessed with that idea of success. This can sometimes steal some of the joy of the journey. I have to remind myself every day that I have a purpose. I have a calling. I don’t have to guess what that is. My purpose and my calling, which I try to get our staff to understand, is to know God and to love people and to use the platform that I have to impact and influence others. That really helps me stay centered and helps me to keep enjoying the journey. We are relevant right now. I don’t know if we are deserving of any ranking. It is a long season and a lot of things happen that you can’t control. I know that I have friends in this profession going through difficult times right now. A lot of it is based upon imperfect people wanting coaches and players to be perfect all the time. This is not a reality. We are not perfect. If you are not careful and you define yourself by that only, you’ll lose the joy in the journey. So, do I have to pinch myself? Not really. But I sure am blessed to have the job I have at the university I have it at and to work with the people I get to work with. I just try to remain focused on this is what you can control, this is who you are and this is what defines you. I tweeted out this morning, it’s a good tweet. You should read it. It comes from a guy named Mark Batterson. It says most people want success at the speed of light, but success happens at the speed of a seed that needs to take root.”

On Vanderbilt routes giving Ole Miss trouble…
“There was a combination of the tight ends giving us problems and having new huskies. We need to get that corrected, for sure. Sometimes it was the linebackers, sometimes it was the huskies and sometimes it was the safety and people not being on the same page. Sometimes it was on us making a wrong call at a certain time. It was a combination of things. Offensively their scheme is going to beat you at certain times. But, you just cannot let it happen as many times as it happened on Saturday. We understand that and need to get it fixed for sure. We do miss Tony Conner and Isaac Gross, but we have to move on.”

On Florida Head Coach Jim McElwain’s press conference comments…
“He may use those words to motivate his players, but we certainly have a lot of regard for Florida. They are playing extremely well. They are a very confident team and really well coached. They have well-run schemes.”

On being in a position of being used as a motivational ploy…
“We have very seldom been favored in my first three and a half years here by most people. So, I don’t know. I’m not sure why Coach McElwain said that our team has no regard for their team. I’m sure he has a reason. But, we have a lot of regard and respect for those guys.”

On the difficulty of pass rush this year...
“The ball is coming out in about two seconds. That is tough to get to. We are getting a lot pass protection when the ball is coming out really fast. The effort from our guys is there. There are collapses in the pocket quite a bit, but the teams we have played have really had a plan to get it out quick for the most part.”

On the status of offensive linemen…
“We have several guys that are beat up. As far as offensive lineman, we’d love to have Justin Bell, Rod Taylor and Laremy Tunsil back as soon as possible. We are missing those three guys. They are some of our more experienced, athletic guys. Bell is going to try and go this week for sure. Taylor looked better yesterday. It just takes time for him to get his shoulder strong enough for him to play with confidence. He is getting stronger each day and could probably help us with 20 or so snaps for this week. I know that I have been told that progress has been made in Tunsil’s situation last week, so we are all pushing to get him back on the field as soon as possible."

On the offensive line’s performance…
“I thought the effort was tremendous. The execution was not so good. We have a ways to go. We made some mistakes, but Vanderbilt gave us some good looks. They did some good stuff. But, the effort is there. We are playing a lot of young kids. I am just really proud of their effort and I love what they bring to this team. They are going to be good players. We just need to continue to coach them better and get them more prepared.”

On focus and preparation…
“I haven’t really had a chance to evaluate that this week. After the game last week, we just celebrated our victory. Yesterday we talked about the truth of the game, the good and the bad, and put it in the trash. Now we are in a new week. We are getting to go and play Florida. We will be in a great place this Saturday. It will take great preparation and leadership in the locker room for us to be successful. Many of them stood up and talked about the expectations for this week and for preparing. I’m really liking what I hear. Hopefully we will see the fruits of that this week.”

On any optimism about Laremy Tunsil’s situation…
“I asked the same question this morning. Again, I have been told that a lot of progress has been made and they are really trying to get him back on the field as soon as possible.”

On Tunsil from a preparation standpoint...
“We have taken the approach of making sure that Tunsil stays ready physically. Our strength staff is continuing to work with him. There is no other way to keep him prepared besides to rely on his smarts, his strength and his athleticism and not him getting into practice. We are proceeding that we will not have him. He has been in our system long enough, and he is athletic enough, that he should be able to handle coming back when it is time.”

On Florida’s defense…
“They have one of the nation’s best defenses. They are only giving up 17-18 points per game. They have tremendous get-off on the defensive line. Jonathan Bullard has eight tackles for loss and multiple sacks. I think playing in front of their crowd, on their field, when you have to communicate there it is very advantageous for their defensive line. Their linebackers are extremely athletic and everyone knows about their back end. They are definitely one of the best defenses in the country and they are going to test us for sure.”

On the red zone offense after Saturday…
“We will continue to work on the schemes and make sure they are solid. The other team plays too, and you have to block them. I liked all of our calls the other night, other than two. Schematically, they had a good chance, but you have to execute the plays also. You have to also give credit to the other team sometimes, especially when they stop you. We just have to continue to get better.”

On Robert Nkemdiche playing both sides of the ball…
“We knew when we recruited him that he could be an offensive player. We knew that he had that capability. We decided in fall camp this year that we would create a small package for him. We spend about five minutes with he and D.J. Jones on Wednesday and Thursday learning the package for that week. We have always known that he could do it. We just wanted to make sure he was prepared to do it in a game. Typically his possession on offense is one or two plays at the maximum. He didn’t play much on the other side of the ball in the Alabama game because he was so gassed. His priority is defense and will always lean towards that if there is a decision to be made. I think if I was a stud defensive lineman in high school, and you could come play defensive line but get some touches on offense? Man, that is the place to be.”

On the goal line struggles…
“Credit to Vanderbilt. It was very difficult to get passed them. We had two bad calls schematically. That happens in games. We will have to continue to get better and be more efficient. We look good, but you have to get better every week. Teams in this league are exceptionally good in the red zone. It gets more and more difficult to score those touchdowns. That is no excuse. We must get better from Saturday. It is a combination of play calls, not executing schematically and they made some really good plays.”

On Chad Kelly’s performance…
“Chad Kelly made some plays for us, but he really just had an average game. I guess the expectations are so high for him and he spends so much time studying and preparing, that there are certain things that surprise me that he chooses to do. This is because of the way he prepares. That could definitely be unfair to him. He’ll be the first to tell you that he did not live up to his own expectations and that he will be hungry to get back and prepare this week.”

On the number of snaps…
“I think we played 84 on both sides. We were very balanced on offense and I like that. There were 42 runs and 42 passes. So we are good on that line. Defensively, I think Robert Nkemdiche played about 70. We rotated a lot of other people who had about 55. We paid attention and played a lot of our twos early in the game. They all seemed to handle it much better. I don’t think we had a single IV. I don’t remember anybody going out. But, it was less humid and cooler so that also helps.”


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