Ole Miss fall apart in third quarter as Florida State roars back from 28-6 deficit

ORLANDO, Fla. — Ole Miss raced out to a 28-6 lead only to endure a 'nightmarish' second half, as Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze put it, to lose 45-34.

Q.   Coach, could you just talk about what happened in the second half?  It seemed like the first half, you guys had everything under control, and the second half things just kind of went downhill from there.

COACH FREEZE:  It was a nightmarish second half.  You have to give credit to Florida State.  I really thought that things started to turn a little bit for them the last drive of the first half.  And we blew a coverage there and gave them -- or the technique on the coverage and gave them a score right before half and they definitely came out of the locker room with a lot more life and, you know, we turned the ball over twice.  That really shifted the momentum to their favor.  And when you're playing in a game against one of the nation's best teams, you can't turn the ball over like that.  And certainly, we were really bad on third down defense.  And you know, give credit to them, but we've got to improve those if we want to win these types of games.

Q.   To what do you attribute the turnovers to?  Were they just unfortunate?

COACH FREEZE:  You know, I always like to watch the film before that.  I know the one on the first half was not the correct read.  Then the one that went off Evans' hands, I'll have to see that one on film to see if that was a timing issue or a route issue or a combination.  The last one there, I couldn't tell if he was under pressure or not.  It was definitely under thrown.  Whether or not that was part of pressure or just a poor throw, I really couldn't tell.

Q.   After scoring 28 points in the second quarter, Florida State scored 33 on instance points.  What did you see differently with the defense?

COACH FREEZE:  Well, our defense -- I thought we did well against the run for the most part the entire night.  We could not get off the field on third down.  Some of that give credit to their quarterback made a lot of plays.  But we have got to improve, you know, our calls, our techniques.  We're playing some young kids back there but some of that was -- you know, we've got to coach them better.  We've got to get them in the right spot with the right technique, but you've got to get off the field when you get an opportunity to and give us more possessions on offense.

Q.   Coach, are you surprised at all that Deondre Francois was able to throw for like 420 yards on his first outing?

COACH FREEZE:  You've seen this in college football the last few years where people come out of I guess you would say not nowhere but have not had proven games and they -- and they're really good.  I mean, they're not sitting around recruiting poor talent and that was obvious tonight in his play.  I thought he was really poised and made very accurate throws after he got settled in, first part of the game, he was not as accurate but, man, he was pretty accurate.  Sometimes he had the guys running pretty wide open, which is something we've got to look at and correct, but he made the throws, so give him credit and he used his feet well.

Q.   Hugh, did Florida State do anything differently in the third quarter with their coverage to throw you guys off?

COACH FREEZE:  No.  We wanted to stay balanced, and we just didn't.  We weren't balanced at all, and then the two turnovers that kind of just shifted the whole momentum of the game.  Then, you know, we didn't feel like we had an opportunity to run.  They were really -- that front is very, very talented, and that whole defense is.  They returned so many kids, and they're very talented.  And once they got momentum and knew we were one-dimensional, it makes for a difficult task. 

No, they didn't do -- they mixed -- played the same things that they did the first half, just really up front kind of took control of the game.

Q.   Hugh, I know it's right after the game, but Ken goes down early.  Eric Swinney goes down.  Those look to be serious injuries.  Have you gotten any word in terms of how they're doing?

COACH FREEZE:  You hate that part of the game.  And neither injury looked good.  I haven't heard the final, but it didn't -- neither one looked good.

Q.   In the first half, you guys controlled their pass rush pretty well.  DeMarcus Walker, seemed like he moved inside a lot and had a lot of success.  What was he able to do in the second half that he wasn't able to do in the first half?

COACH FREEZE:  In the first half, you know, I think our tempo was really good, and we were winning some first downs to let us stay in it. 

The second half we didn't win any of those, and we turned it over twice in there.  And they did move their guys around.  They jumped in some more bear front and really forced us in some one-on-one matchups that they won quite a few of. 

Again, that talented of a group's probably going to do that when you're not two-dimensional.

Q.   Hugh, you guys scored to go up 28-6, and they go on that drive.  You guys had to take a knee.  It was halftime.  Then they start the ball -- they start with the ball in the second half.  Do you feel like that kind of took the offense maybe out of a rhythm maybe not being on the field for that long?

COACH FREEZE:  I don't know if it took the offense out of rhythm, but no question that was the critical part of the game where they got that score right before half and then got the ball the second half and converted some points there, too.  No question that got their momentum and life back in them.

Q.   From the emotional high that your team has going into the locker room to the emotional low that they have now, what was your message to them after the game?

COACH FREEZE:  That's the unfortunate thing about the way our sport works.  There's so much attention on it and on these games.  Jimbo and I were talking before the game there was going to be a good football team that walked out of here tonight not feeling well, and it's us, and we did not deserve to win the game the way we played the second half. 

This season is not made of one game.  This is a nonconference game that I think was good for college football, and we obviously signed on to play in it.  But you've got to be prepared, what do you do from now because we get ready to start a home stand.  Our September is very brutal.  We've got to play a difficult offense to defend and a short week, and then we've got two big conference games coming in.  So there's no time to -- we've got to correct our mistakes.  But there's no time to sit around and feel sorry for yourself.  It's a long season.  We've got to get ready to play. 

I believe -- I mean, there's been some teams the last few years that have lost early games that have gone on and done really well, and that would be our anticipation.

Q.   Hugh, it seemed like your defensive backs are playing an awful lot and giving them some time to maybe run some plays and whatnot in the secondary.  Was it a lot to do with, you had a lot of young guys back there?  Kind of what played into playing off of them?

COACH FREEZE:  Something we've got to look at for sure.  It wasn't very fun for me to see some of the technique that we had when we were in off-coverage that we've got to get looked at and get corrected, and obviously it hurt losing Ken.  We really felt like he was a guy that we could leave on an island and have success.  When we lost him, you know, it did affect us.  We've got to go get the others ready, though.  We've got some good young ones, I think.  We've just got to get them ready.  We definitely gave them too many easy throws.  

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