Hugh Freeze

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media to discuss the opening of fall camp Monday afternoon

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media to discuss fall camp Monday afternoon. Full transcript inside.

Opening Statement…

“It's good to get back in camp. Listening to our strength coaches talk about the off-season, I was extremely pleased, and I like the look of our team. Obviously we haven't put pads on yet, but they seem to have a great spirit about them and want to compete.

 

Our theme this year is rise up. I really enjoy this two weeks of camp where we can spend a lot of time speaking truth into our young men’s lives hoping that it will take and impact their life outside of football. Our three things we’re really concentrating on is being competitors that love to win and hate to lose in every area of our life, understanding the meaning of sacrifice, others before self, and learning to communicate, which builds trust and being a transparent young man. We have a good kickoff, with some great speakers lined up to come in and share some truth with us. I look forward to those guys, and then continuing to try to elevate our program to where we can compete year in, year out for the Southeastern Conference and the Western Division.

 

I really like the look of our team and love our coaching staff, the chemistry and consistency that we’ve been able to maintain here. Thanks to our core values and our administration for continuing to support and do things here that are making Ole Miss very relevant in the college football scene.

 

It’s been a good two days. I look forward to getting media days done and really locking in for two weeks with our team and hopefully building chemistry. I’ve said it before, I really believe that one of the differences in this conference between winning close games and losing them, besides breaks that sometimes happen, is the chemistry that’s formed in that locker room. We’ll depend upon the leadership of our team. We’ve got a leadership council that’s been formed that has really spent some time with me, and I really like the things they’re trying to get accomplished in that locker room.

 

I am looking forward to the season.”

 

On first impressions of the newcomers…

“I love what I see. They’re learning. It’s a learning curve. We’re splitting practices. The young kids are getting eight periods by themselves where I’ll teach, and in the first two days I really like what I’ve seen from those young guys. They’re good kids, and they’re obviously talented, but I think this could be our best class from just two days of being out there.

 

We've had some good classes, but I really think from top to bottom this 2016 class looks, after two days - for whatever that’s worth - I haven't been disappointed.”

 

On Jeremy (Liggins) not being out there…

“Jeremy is being withheld from camp for a violation of team standards, and we’re working with him to get him back out there as soon as we can.”

 

Update on Tony Conner…

“I haven’t watched today’s film, but my instructions to the coaches are get him to the bus. His reps will be -- he knows what we’re doing. He knows our scheme. He’s one of our better football players, and I asked him last night how he felt. He said he felt great after the first practice. I haven’t seen him after today, but I know in the perimeter drill he caught my eye a couple times, being normal, and that’s exciting for us.”

 

On the tumultuous off-season and whether the NCAA stuff takes away from the joy of having the program where you want it…

It hasn’t stolen our joy at all.

 

First impression of Rommel Mageo…

“Quick learner, have to run him out of the building. He’s a football junkie. I love that about him, and I am anxious to get pads on and see how he does. I didn't see many mistakes that he made yesterday, and it’s brand new to him. Same thing for (Detric) Bing-Dukes. I think both are very similar. They want to learn. They want to know what to do. It’s still early, but they moved fine. I think we’ve got two guys there that are going to help us.”

 

On other guys who could help in terms of position…

“It’s still early. Myles Hartsfield has had flashes as have some of the redshirt guys, Montrell Custis and Eric Swinney and Armani (Linton). All those guys we’re depending on to see, but it’s way too early for me to say these new guys are definite. I like all the O-linemen that we signed. I think they’ve got potential to be really good players, but it is a development time that most will have to have. Some will have to be quicker than others because of needs. I am excited about all those kids you mentioned, and I think Ross Donelly has caught my eye, Herbert Moore is going to give us some reps. He’s a really good two-gapper, and that’s something we haven’t had a lot of besides Woody in the last two years. Issac Gross being back is like a breath of fresh air. There’s a lot of guys that are catching my eye right now. (Robert) Conyers being back, he’s a leader.”

 

On what position needs to develop the quickest for FSU…

“Everybody is going to say O-line. That’s probably going to be the answer every year, just because of the talented defensive lines that we face. They’ve got the toughest task. We need to develop some depth behind Evan (Engram) at tight end. Octavious Cooley looks like he could be a special player. He has a learning curve he has to get quickly. Then probably linebacker. Just making sure that we have him back. Willie Hibbler has caught my eye a couple of times, as well, playing the Mike linebacker. It’s early to tell. After a couple weeks I’ll know more on that.”

 

With Liggins out, on what they need from Alex Givens and Greg Little to accelerate their progress…

“Right now we’re playing Alex, Rod Taylor and Greg at left tackle, and I kind of like all three of them. I think they all have potential to be good players. We obviously want Jeremy to be back quickly and then get in the swing of things, but to just provide even more depth and competition there.”

 

On comparing A.J. Brown and Laquon Treadwell…

“I tried to do this; one of the scouts out there before we started practice asked me that and how would they compare Brown’s day one to Treadwell’s day one. I would be hard-pressed to say that A.J. wasn’t farther along at this point, and what that means long-term who knows, but he certainly has been impressive. So has D.K. (Metcalf).”

 

On keeping the guys focused and not getting caught up with the distractions…

“It’s a lot easier than you guys really believe because they’re kids. They understand that they have zero control and zero to do with a lot of the things that are going on. We kind of got the rise up theme from Ezra 10:4 where it says, rise up, you control this. You get to control what you can control, and that's everything that happens on the field, off the field, social decisions, academic decisions, and in this room, that’s what you should concentrate on. When you see the kids doing that, it’s quite a motivator for our coaches.”

 

On Taylor Polk’s progression to becoming a starting linebacker…

“We’re certainly glad we have him. He’s had some injuries, and it has slowed him considerably in probably his desire to achieve that. In the staff meeting this morning our trainers think that he's close to being able to go every practice and every rep. We’ll see when we get pads on. He’s had a difficult time this past spring and off-season with some shoulder issues. He plays the game like it’s supposed to be played, and sometimes our bodies don’t hold up as well. But I think he's close to being 100 percent.”

 

On Chad Kelly and what you’ve seen a change in him going into his second year…

“He’s hungry. He’s determined. Today in practice I thought he was very sharp, a little like he was at the end of the season last year. Our skelly competition, which is an offensive drill, he completed the first 12 of 12 throws and was really sharp and the ball was going to the right place. He’s getting the protections set right. He looked really good.”

 

On how Shea Patterson looks…

“He looks good. For a true freshman to have the mental capacity that he has for the game and to be able to pick up as fast as he has is very pleasing to us. His mechanics are very good to begin with, but sometimes you would think that a true freshman gets out there and all the different things he’s seen from defenses could rattle him some or confuse him some, but it happens very few times with him, which is very pleasing to us.”

 

Any idea on redshirt plans…

“No, we probably won’t think about that until we get into the games. He’ll be traveling with us, ready to play, and we’ll make that maybe even during the course of games. It’s not something we are going to discuss this early, but we’re getting him prepared to play.”

 

On Derrick Jones heading into the season…

“He's a kid that I wish we could have redshirted when he started because we probably haven’t given him the number of opportunities that his talent deserves. We’re hopeful that we can figure out a way to make that happen for him.”

 

Update on Fadol Brown…

“He came out of the boot today. I haven’t had a chance to talk to anyone.”

 

On the tough early schedule…

“I’ve never been on a staff that faced a September quite like what we’re facing. It’s not hard to motivate our kids. They understand what’s in front of them, so that’s a positive. The negative is you’re playing some very difficult teams, and you can be a top-15 team and you’re going to be in some battles right away, and you’re not sure how they’ll go. It is a very difficult schedule, and I don’t discount even playing Wofford on week two on a short week. They play on a Thursday night, and they have a long week to get ready for us, and we’re going to get back early Tuesday morning and get ready to play an offense that’s not the easiest to defend. I think the entire month of September is a challenging one.”

 

On motivation of still having work to do even where the program is at…

“We could talk a long time on that one. I assure you there’s motivation. I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been to prove that the young men that choose to come to this wonderful university and sacrifice to try to change the narratives around this program, we're very motivated to develop them and give them the best chance to compete in a very difficult conference with a very difficult schedule. They deserve that, and we believe in our staff, we believe in our core values, and we believe in these young men. There’s a tremendous amount of motivation to remain consistent.”

 

On what Van Jefferson brings to the receiving corps…

“He’s the best route runner we have, as far as getting in and out of breaks, and his hands are very, very steady. He’s got adequate speed to stretch the field. In tight quarters, when he gets out of a break, his separation is as good as any I’ve coached here, and that’s his gift. You can tell he’s been coached -- of course his dad is a wide receiver coach in the NFL. But when you start watching one-on-ones and grading those one-on-ones, the guy is very difficult to guard in and out of breaks in a one-on-one situation. He understands the spacing, understands when to tone the route down, when to speed through a zone. He kind of just has a feel for it.”

 

On if there’s been any change to Charles Wiley's status…

“If we played a game today, Charles would not play. But all the information that’s been given to me, I feel like he should still be practicing until whatever the courts decide whatever the case is and then we’ll make a decision at that point.”

 

On how difficult it is for a true freshman like Greg Little to come in and start at left tackle…

“With him coming in and getting in shape like they do in the summer, it’s really how much they contain of the knowledge of how to play that position. We obviously think he’s super athletic. As all freshmen, he could stand to be stronger, and Paul will get him there no doubt in time. We do think he’s a really good future left tackle. When that takes place is hard to say. But he wants to do it, and he learns and he studies, so I think the learning curve, he’ll handle that well.”

 

On what scouts are looking at…

“They're going to make their rounds to every school in this conference, so that’s what they’re doing now. We had a bunch here yesterday and today. We’ll let them come throughout the first two weeks of camp, so they’ll be here every day looking at all the kids that are on their radar.”

 

On if he’s worried about any possible suspension or personal penalty for player rules violations…

“I’m worried about our football team. I think several of y'all got some good sources that could probably give you more information than we have.”

 

Talk about the running back situation…

“I'm excited about Akeem Judd and Eric Swinney. Jordan Wilkins has been around a long time, too, and I trust any of those right now. Eric has got some learning to do, but we’ve got some bigger backs now that are exciting to me.”

 

On Jordan Wilkins…

96 Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE “He’s good at everything, the protections, the routes, the running. So is Akeem. I thought both of them came on at the end of last year and really did some nice things. I’m comfortable with that position. We’re deep enough there and good enough. That won’t be a reason we’re not a competitive football team.”    


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