Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Monday to preview Georgia, among other topics

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze previewed Georgia, updates injuries and talked the Rebels' recent loss to Alabama Monday afternoon. Full transcript inside.

Opening Statement: “A lot of great things on the field, but certainly disappointed to let another game get away from us after a lead. There are so many mistakes being made, particularly on the defensive side that we have got to get fixed. There are a lot of good things at times, but we’ve got to get the third downs and explosive plays fixed. Offensively, we can’t turn the ball over that results in 14 points. For a great team like Alabama, they had 21 points in a matter of, my guess is, 20 seconds. I don’t know how long it took them to run the punt back and the fumble/interception back. You can’t do that against great teams like that. The positives are, we are playing a lot of young kids that competed and played their hearts out. I think there is a lot to build on in that regard, and we got better in some spots and we did not improve in some spots. We’ve got to continue to coach, we’ve got to make better calls in certain situations and we’ve got to make sure we are communicating what our guys are supposed to do and make sure they can do it. Putting up 500 yards plus on an Alabama defense is pretty special, so we are doing some good things there, but have to take care of the ball offensively. So we have got to move on to another tough task and that’s playing an undefeated Georgia team at home. We need our crowd to show up and be extremely loud. We need a boost from them this Saturday that is a challenge. Our kids are competing extremely hard and we need our people to really get their rest Friday night to be packed in the stadium on Saturday early to give us an extra boost and be the 12th man that we need to show up for these young men. We can’t wait to get back out, can’t wait to play another difficult opponent. Kirby (Smart) has done a great job early on, 3-0 start, beat a really quality North Carolina and a Missouri team, and had a tough battle in week two that they found a way to win. So they are believing that they can get that done so it is going to be another great challenge for us. We knew September was going to be this way and it is time for us to get back out and find a way to finish a game.”

On Evan Engram: “He has worked extremely hard in the off-season; he is a great example too to use. Making the decision to come back was the smartest and right thing for him to do. Too many kids are making that decision based on outside influences and not on wisdom. I was meeting with some scouts this morning and coming back has put him in a good spot. We are obviously trying to find matchups that we think he has a chance to win. He is a tough matchup, we believe. He has worked extremely hard to get to that point, we have to focus on find him, but it is a combination of all of those things.”

Evan Engram and Hugh Freeze

On readjusting goals: “Like I said earlier, we’re not big on setting goals, we’re big on what can I do today that proves my commitment to help us get to wherever were going, whatever that is. I want to tell you, I am not sure that expectations are what they are and I think people get spoiled and people want you to be perfect every week and you’re not going to be. Being and becoming relevant I think it creates an expectation and that expectation results in winning celebrations and disappointing losses. The two things you’re going to get and we’ve had our share of both and this year in September we have had the disappointing loss. I will tell you this; I’ll taking being relevant and being in the fight, every single time. Getting whitewashed by the nation’s best, so I am glad we are in the fight, disappointing, yes. Our program has definitely moved forward in the time that we have been here and we have a chance to beat some of the nation’s best. You have to give them credit too. They make plays, they keep fighting, but we’ve got a find a way to grow up and finish games and coach better in those situations. I think our kids will bounce back fine. Our goal is week to week, prepare to win.”

On if he is surprised by the current record based on how each game has started: “Yeah. You are playing great teams; they can come back and beat you. You would hope that it wouldn’t, and you would take that every time and we would again and that speaks for a lot of positives that are going on. We gave both of those teams, and it is not excuse because they made plays, and we did not, we’ve made some mistakes that have given explosive plays and quick scores that whether it be special teams, offense or defense, it resulted in those comebacks. We’ve got to, obviously again, coach better, make sure our kids understand better and don’t do their own things at certain times. If you would of said that against some teams, I would have said, ‘Yeah, I am shocked we are 1-2’, but when you mention Alabama and Florida State I would think you’ve been around football long enough to know that they have some of the best players in the nation and no lead is really safe.”

On how to shore up the run defense: “Another great test for sure. They are going to present a great challenge to us in the run game and we’ve got to be sure that our eyes are disciplined and our fits are correct. That has cost us almost every single time, you see us get loose with our discipline, we get hit. We’ve got to get it fixed.”

On the replays lengthening the game: “Well, it was Saturday and the game was long. It was long on both teams, the fans, I think everybody. The replay’s definitely, there seemed to be more in that game for whatever reason. I didn’t like them that day, they didn’t go our way at all. I would have just kept playing on that given day and then there are other days you do have it. I don’t know, but the game was long Saturday for sure. I don’t have the answer.”

On if any injured players will return this week: “We evaluated those two that you mentioned first (Derek Jones and Jeremy Liggins) on Tuesday, tomorrow and make a decision. The ball is in their court, I am not bending, they have to do what I have asked them to do to be reinstated. They could this week easily do that, if they do everything and it measures up to what we want them to do. Injured players, Victor Evans, I would expect to be back. I would expect, but I don’t know that for sure yet. Shawn Curtis I’m not sure either; Fadol (Brown) I think would be doubtful. (Eugene Brazley) was not a concussion, he’s got a neck that got hurt, but he’s ok, he practiced yesterday actually.”

On the strength of the wide receivers: “We knew we had a good receiver room. We hate that happened to D.K. (Metcalf). He was really coming into his own, in particular in the red zone, which is a big weapon for us. Fortunately, we've stayed fairly healthy there, but we've lost some good players in other areas. But we've got to get those next guys ready. But the receivers have played really well.”

On time of possession: “The time of possession didn't really bother me (against Alabama), it was only about a 10-minute difference. I'll tell you this, it's a catch-22 for a coach if we go too fast and score, or too fast and out, but the problem is, when we slow down, we aren't nearly as effective offensively. And defenses can call every single thing they want. When we go fast, we've been pretty efficient and we score pretty fast. That's part of the game today. We've still got to get off the field defensively on third down and we can't give up explosive plays. The problem has been, when conventional wisdom says to slow down and eat some clock, we have not been real good to this point. So our kids believe, when we go fast, they just believe in it and we do too. Obviously we've been putting up a lot of really good numbers, with exception of the turnovers. So it's a catch-22, it's a tough deal.”

On what needs to improve with the team's third-down defense: “A little bit of everything, from coaching to techniques to assignments. Sometimes you have to give them credit. Scrambling quarterbacks (Alabama freshman Jalen Hurts) is going to be really talented — he already is. They've given us problems doing that, but we've got to find a way to get off the field. It's a combination: coaching, assignment, technique, we just have to keep improving. We've played a lot of young kids and they have to grow up and understand the value that each play over the course of the game, its weight is equal. The value on those plays is of equal amount in the course of the game.”

Hugh Freeze and A.J. Brown

On improving tackling in the second level: “Reps, discipline, demand it. We have to all pitch in to help, and this week's a big emphasis on that, so I expect to see it get better and some things fixed on Saturday.”

On what Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has changed so far: “They’re playing with a ton of energy, confidence and passion. They've obviously got great players. It's one of the best recruiting grounds in the nation. Heck, how many years in a row have they won nine or 10 games? This program just believes they're supposed to win. Of course, Kirby has done nothing to change that. Defensively, it's a bit different than what we're used to seeing from them. He's playing a lot more odd front. I'm sure he's adjusting to what he thinks is best for his team. It's been different from what we expect from them, but the results are well for him.”

On trying to improve as coaches: “Creating the discipline to do the actual assignment every single time. You've got to capture your room, and obviously there are things big-picture wise that you have to do, whether it's short-yardage in the red zone. That's the first time this year we've had that and we weren't successful. I always have to make sure I'm managing the game properly for our team. But as an individual coach, you have to demand the discipline necessary to be successful at this level against teams like Alabama, FSU, Georgia. You have to create the discipline that is done over and over and over again. (Co-Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach) Dan Werner has to keep working with Chad. When we're 20 in or 20 backed up, that's not the time, when that clock goes off in your head, that ball has to be gone or use your legs with two hands on the ball. Those aren't the times to take a chance, and Chad knows that. He owns it. And obviously he did so many good things in that game, and it's unfortunate that the ones that he didn't were really magnified by the points they resulted in. So we've always got to improve as coaches.”

On Georgia's freshman quarterback, Jacob Eason: “He’s coming into his own. I think last week on the road against Missouri gave him a lot of confidence to pull a win with that game, because it could've gone either way and he made some really good throws there at the end. He's got a big arm, he has all the tools and now he's played on the road, which will be an advantage for him. That's why we need our crowd to be really special Saturday morning at 11 a.m. to try to make things as difficult on him as we can.”

On freshman offensive tackle Greg Little: “He’s been really solid. He's coming on really fast and we really need him to continue to do that. He's doing well.”

On the drive vs. Alabama where three TDs were overturned: “I would say the Judd run (was a touchdown). The others were pretty clear. Judd run it looks like he’s – if you combine the angles – it looks like he got it in from my viewpoint. But I don’t know if I had every view that they had.”


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