Hugh Freeze

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze hasn't seen the quality tackling he expects from his defense so far in camp

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Tuesday to discuss Sunday's scrimmage, injuries, Jordan Wilkins and much, much more. Full transcript included.

On Sunday’s scrimmage:

“We’ve got a ways to go. We were not where I’d hoped we would be. I do think some of it has to do with I could have probably scheduled that second week a little differently and maybe they would have been a little more mentally fresh. There were too many penalties and too many missed assignments, mostly defensively. Offensively, we did some really good things. Some of that was probably that we did some good things, and some of it was probably the defense didn’t play particularly well that day. I still love our attitude, I’m just telling you where we’re at at that mark for that scrimmage on Sunday. I hoped for more. Great thing is we still have two weeks to correct the mistakes we made.”

Come out of the scrimmage OK injury-wise?

“Deontay Anderson has a fracture in his wrist or hand. We don’t expect him to miss any time. He may have to play with a cast, but we don’t expect him to miss any time. That’s the only thing that came from the scrimmage.”

On where Anderson stood on the depth chart:

“With the twos. He’s had a good camp. He’s coming on. During this time we certainly don’t need him to miss out on conditioning and the mental reps that you can get. We’ll hear today when he can actually start tackling again.”

On the youth of the secondary and surrendering explosive plays:

“Our offense likes to create them. Certainly, defensively, you can’t give up those. We’ve giving up too many in the first two weeks. We are very young back there; I forget how young we are sometimes. We’re playing a lot of young kids on the back end of our defense right now. I do think they have the potential to be very good. But they are young. You make one mistake against a team like the ones we have to play early on, it can be costly. (Ole Miss safeties coach) Corey (Batoon) does a good job back there of getting them prepared. They are young, though. They’ll make some mistakes.”

Deontay Anderson

On the injury status (foot) of defensive end Fadol Brown:

“I’m not sure how that’s going to play out. We’ve got one more treatment that I think they’re attempting to try to get done this week. It’s just a matter of if that one doesn’t really make him feel comfortable playing, then it’s just a matter of how much does he want to try to go with whatever pain he can tolerate.”

On the injury status (concussion) of defensive tackle D.J. Jones:

“He’s good.”

On potential defensive line shuffling should Brown be unavailable for FSU:

“I don’t know. We’ll figure that out as we get there.”

On depth at defensive end:

“Vic(tor Evans) has had a good camp. Vic’s had a good camp. (Garrard McDowell’s) had a good camp. Shawn (Curtis) has had a good camp. We think we’ve recruited some decent depth there. You’d love to have a senior that’s been in the battles for you like Fadol, and you want it for him. But I think we have some good guys there, too.”

On Zedrick Woods:

“Solid player. He’s got a lot of snaps under his belt, so we’re depending on him not to make those mistakes back there, and he can play a lot of places for us, too, which helps.”

On Myles Hartsfield:

“He made some (mental mistakes) on Sunday in the scrimmage, but he’s running with the ones for a reason. We’ve got confidence in him and think he can do the job. That doesn’t mean mistakes won’t be made, but we’ve got confidence in him.”

Who leads at left tackle?

“Rod Taylor. Rod is running with the ones, and Greg Little’s running with the twos. Greg’s going to be a good player. It’s unfortunate that a lot of people want to compare him to Laremy Tunsil as a junior. Laremy didn’t start until, I believe, game four of his freshman year. Greg’s going to be a really good player. Things are moving real fast for him and he’s got to play the game a little faster, but he’s everything we thought he’d be. He’s a really good player.”

On the status of Little’s shoulder:

“Yeah. You guys had him down for the count. I’ll never understand all of that, but he’s fine.”

On what Taylor has done to separate himself:

“Just an athletic guy. Playing tackle is a little new for him, but he’s got the athletic ability that gives us a chance against the type of ends we’re going to play early on. He’s just one of the better athletes we have up there.”

Rod Taylor

On the possibility of Taylor and DL Breeland Speaks missing time against FSU for discipline:

“Not unless something changes. They’ve done everything I’ve asked.”

On how Taylor profiles at left tackle:

“You’d love for him to be a little longer, but his feet are great. I’ll take that out there. You’ve got to have great feet to play against these speed rushers that you have out there, and he’s got some girth for the power rushers. You’d love for him to be longer, but I’ll take his feet over that.”

On how Damarkus Lodge has performed in camp:

“Really pleased. I think he’s maturing nicely as a teammate and as a person. I’ve been really pleased with his performance.”

On when the proverbial light came on for Lodge:

“Probably spring. He and I had several individual meetings. One of our goals this year is to be a team that is very connected. We’ve done a few exercises that I think have been fun and good throughout camp. I kind of started them last spring with him and kind of tested it on him in some one-on-one meetings with me. I think it’s really let some walls come down and let him be transparent with where he is. I created a funeral scene for me and showed it to all of our players. The whole purpose is understanding that whatever you believe drives your behaviors and your behaviors drive your performance and your performance will give you some result. We need to work backwards. You need to say this is the result I really want, now are my beliefs and are my behaviors going to get me that result? So I created my funeral scene. A lot of that had to do with the events of this past few weeks. It’s coming. It happens. We don’t know when it happens, but we won’t cheat death. So I wrote on the screen here at our commitment service, this is the result I want at my funeral. This is what I want my wife to say about me. This is what I want my kids to say about me. This is what I want our players to say about me. This is what I want my parents to say about me. And, really, the rest of the people are probably, no offense, insignificant. But is this what they would say about me today? If not, I have time to make sure my beliefs that are creating my behaviors are going to get me the result I want. It’s the same way with a team. It’s the same way with football players. What result do you want? All right, now let’s go look and are your beliefs and behaviors going to get you there?”

On being down about Sunday’s scrimmage:

“First of all, I’m never down. As a coach, there’s going to be days … every article that you write, are your just, ‘Man, I nailed that one!’ No. You’re not. You shouldn’t be. With coaching it’s the same way. If I’m going to really be real, there’s some days where we didn’t measure up. We didn’t get the most out of the scrimmage that I wanted. But I’m not down; I’m just telling you we’ve got work to do. But I bet you most teams, any coach that would say, ‘Oh, we’re there, we’ve arrived,’ I’m not sure that’s ever the case. We’ve just got some work to do, and we’ve got to get some things fixed.”

On Jordan Wilkins being ruled academically ineligible:

“Very disappointing. It’s something that should not have happened. I didn’t know about it until this summer sometime. It should never happen, and it’s unfortunate. I’m really proud of the way Jordan has handled it, and I really thought the appeal would be granted based upon the circumstances. But life’s not fair all the time, and Jordan is handling it beautifully. But we definitely have to learn from whatever mistakes were made. It can’t happen again.”

On the difficulty of replacing Wilkins in the backfield:

“I think experience is the word that I would use. Going into this September schedule, you’re like, ‘Man, i know this guy can pick up blitzes. I know that he understands what we’re doing.’ That is the part you miss. I do think we’ll be fine there. I like our young kids, and you’ve got to move on. It’s like Jordan got hurt. It’s like he had an injury and had to get an MRI, and the MRI showed something. That’s kind of the way you have to approach it. He’ll keep leading. He’ll keep teaching these young guys. He’s a great team member. I’m just thrilled that he has another year, that he can come back and be with us.”

On if the Wilkins situation alters the redshirt decision for D’Vaughn Pennamon:

“I think we’ll see. It’s still too early for me to talk about redshirting anyone, you know? You don’t know what’s going to happen in the first three games with injuries and people that keep getting better. He’s flashed (ability) in fall camp. It’s not like we’re afraid to play him. But Eugene Brazley’s looked good, D.K. Buford had some explosive runs the other day and of course we believe strongly in Akeem (Judd) and Eric Swinney. We’ll see how it goes.”

Jordan Wilkins

On the status of freshman OL Jack DeFoor:

“He had surgery last week to repair his shoulder. He’ll be redshirted.”

On the positive steps he’s seen throughout camp:

“Love the things I’m seeing from the leadership of our team, from the attitude of our team. I think we’ve got to tackle better. Playing a tailback week one like we’re facing, this guy’s special now. This guy’s in a different league. You’ve got to get him on the ground in a lot of space, and they create a lot of good plays for him to get him in space. We haven’t tackled extraordinarily well. But the attitude is great, and I do believe our team wants to be a team that’s connected and a team that is excited about putting the ball down and getting to write our own story this year. I love the energy I feel. Offensively, I think we have weapons. But defensively, I’m a little concerned right now. But we’ve got time to get better and get people in the right spots. I think we will.”

More on tackling:

“When we have (tackled to the ground in camp), we haven’t been great at it. Is that because our receivers or backs are making really good moves, or is it because we’re poor at tackling? We’ve tackled quite a bit in the first two weeks. Now, this is the time of the year that I like to back off and just have one 15-minute period of practice this week that we’ll be tackling to the ground. We’ve got to try to create some ways to keep getting better at it, though.”

On Rommel Mageo:

“Solid. I think he’s running with the twos right now. You’re going to need him, for sure. Love his work ethic. Love his preparation, the way he studies, his toughness. But it’s been an adjustment period, for sure. Him missing all summer was not helpful, but he’s going to get there.”


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