Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Monday for his weekly press conference

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Monday afternoon for his weekly press conference.

Opening Statement: “Obviously not the outcome we wanted Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Such as the life in the SEC West, and it doesn’t get any easier moving forward. Auburn is an outstanding football team, maybe the best defense as far as points per game that we’ve seen. Only giving up 14 points a game is unheard of almost these days. You watch them on tape and you see why, and now their rushing game is back to what they’ve been known for, so they are an outstanding football team that will provide us another great challenge. I am glad it is at home. We are glad to be back home in front of our fans in our stadium and hopefully that will give us an extra amount of energy as we go in another SEC West battle. Our kids yesterday, obviously we’re disappointed that we didn’t make enough plays. Our coaches are disappointed and that’s part of the life that we live in this conference. We’ve got to rebound and continue to work and hopefully the leaders will lead and we look forward to another challenge at home this Saturday.”

On the mentality of the team right now: “It’s disappointing, but when you look at the tapes of the teams we’ve played its easy to see that you can lose those games. I’ll put it in baseball terms, we can’t afford right now – with the issues that we may have at certain positions or talent level compared to others – we can’t afford to throw 75 mph on the corner of the plate and get by; we have to throw 96 mph on every single play to be able to compete and have a chance to win some of the games that we are in right now. We can’t afford to make some of the mistakes that we are making, whether it’s defensively on a blown coverage, or whether it is a turnover because it’s a bad decision. We can’t afford to do those things, or a bad call by a coach. I think it is a combination of the early losses that were very disappointing, key injuries when losing (Ken) Webster and Fadol (Brown) and Jordan Wilkins and the others, D.K. Metcalf and Jordan Sims in the first quarter the other night, I think it’s a combination of those things. We’ve got to coach better, that is part of the equation. All of that factors into the disappointment right now, but we are not the first to experience that and probably won’t be the last time we experience it in this league. We’ve got to fight.”

On injuries affecting the team: “Rod (Taylor) is a high ankle sprain so he will be questionable for this week. It is not a break, but those high sprains are difficult at times, so he will be questionable. Temario (Strong) played really well in our big packages. We’ve got to get him to understand some of the base stuff that we do. He definitely plays the game the way we want it played. The third one, Willie (Hibbler) did some good things; I think Willie has a bright future, he’s just young. He is going to get some more reps though this week I think. Hopefully he will continue to mature.”

On competition in the SEC West: “When the expectations get so high and you don’t meet them it is easy for the frustration or the pressure to feel like you have to perform at a certain level. I think all of us can feel that at certain times, but I try to embrace it and I tell the team that’s a good thing that people expect that of you, but being that we’re playing a lot of young kids in certain spots that certainly is a part of it. You’ve got to embrace it and move forward, but that could be some of it. That’s not something they verbalized to us. I think a lot of it and part of the equation you have to put in there, I don’t think people give maybe enough credit to LSU or to Alabama or to Florida State. Those teams can block you too and we can fit it wrong or we can blow an assignment, but there’s sometimes that they did a good job. They are going to do a good job enough from their talent level, like Auburn also, we can’t afford to give them anything and unfortunately we have done our share of that also.”

On Auburn running a spread option offense: “It should help. We certainly can make ours look very similar to theirs. We will go some good on good to try to help with that. That could certainly help us prepare.”

On the leaders of the team: “Do I think overcoming adversity is the easiest thing to do for young men in today’s time? No, I think it has to be continually addressed particularly defensively right now. We are searching for some guys that really take the leadership role and do it the right way. Offensively, we have to perform better and score a lot of points to win right now. I think the leadership there is pretty good, I don’t see anything going on there. Defensively, they want to do better, they want to do well and you saw glimpses of it. You put the first two possessions on and our kids did everything right, and as the game went on we didn’t sustain that level of play and we have to in order to win against the teams we are playing against in this league.”

On Terry Caldwell: “Well, I don’t want to go into it too deep, but it is being addressed for sure. I have a meeting with him today that will decide further what happens.”

On Greg Little: “He is getting better and better. It is tough environments to play in. Those tackles on the edge out there are the last ones to know the ball is snapped and you are playing against a senior-led defensive line like the other night, and that’s difficult. After he kind of settled in, I thought he did well. He is going to be an outstanding player and he’s an outstanding leader, he is a great young man and he’s going to have a bright future.”

On Jordan Sims: “Same thing (referring to Rod Taylor), he’s been dealing with an ankle for a couple weeks and he aggravated it in the first quarter the other night and he couldn’t go. He will be questionable or day-to-day this week also. We definitely missed him in that game.”

On LSU limiting Evan Engram: “They played good man-to-man defense. Thought he had some opportunities that we didn’t get completed where either the route was a little shorter, and we used him in protection a little bit in that game too. You’ve got to give credit to them, they had a good plan.”

On if there is pressure on Chad Kelly with the amount of points the defense has given up: “I think that’s a natural reaction to all of us. I sense that in myself so I am certain Chad (Kelly) feels some of that also.”

On Auburn’s run game: “I think they are really talented to begin with and they have a good system that really makes you defend the entire field. They have quality in their backs and their offensive line, they’ve committed to it. For Gus (Malzahn), last year was a frustrating year and I think he just made the commitment that we are going to make sure that we are being who we should be and it is surely working for him. They are very physical, very difficult to defend and their defense is giving them a lot of possessions because their defense is not giving up anything.”

On Rhett Lashlee taking over the play calling: “They’ve changed from like game one and two a little bit, but this is what they’ve always been where ever Gus (Malzahn) has been with them and Rhett (Lashlee) has been with them a long time. That’s what you see now is really what he’s always done. There may be a few different wrinkles here and there, but it is really what they’ve always done so it is no different. Rhett is doing a nice job play calling.”

On Fadol Brown and the third quarter offensive troubles: “Fadol (Brown) played 19 plays and he did pretty well, he was sore, but is determined to give what he can to this team so he will continue to do that. Third quarter troubles, you can go possession by possession and definitely pick out the issues. The first three possessions were three and out and one they did a really nice job on the third-and-1 on the defensive call on an unblocked defender, and then we had a back go the wrong way on the next one that would have been a really nice play. Made a bad call in the third one against what the look was, so it is a combination of things, but we can’t afford to have those three and outs for sure.”

On Auburn’s defense: “Their front six, their secondary is good too, but their front six just jump off the page at you. They are an issue, they are a problem for you, for whoever plays them. Whether it is (Carl) Lawson or (Montravius) Adams or their two backups, they are too deep in every position and definitely an SEC talent. They are an elite defense, so whether you are zone blocking them or back schemes or pass protecting, it is an issue and it is one that you cannot afford to get behind the chains on.”

On Daronte Bouldin and redshirts moving forward: “Daronte did ok, he’s just not used to playing that many snaps. We’ve had a three-man rotation between Javon (Patterson), Daronte and Jordan (Sims). Jordan has really graded out as one of the better lineman that we’ve had, so it is tough to miss him there and Daronte to have to play so many snaps. He did ok until he got a little tired. I don’t foresee any redshirts being pulled at this point.”

On Rhett Lashlee play calling for Auburn: “It’s so much to manage the players in this day in time and all the things that come with being the head coach in the SEC. It is something he and I have talked frequently about so it does not shock me. I am certain he (Guz Malzahn) is still involved from time to time with making suggestions or calls, but I really wasn’t that surprised. It is not the easiest thing to do and it is probably a transition over a period of years, that’s kind of how mine has been and I think he has kind of experienced the same, but I wasn’t surprised because I am kind of living the same dilemma.”

On the running game against LSU and moving forward: “It is always a concern if you are not able to be balanced. Again, I think it is a combination or coaches, our injuries, missing Eric (Swinney) and Jordan (Wilkins) is difficult on us. We’ve got a young offensive line relatively, but you also have to give a lot of credit to the defensive fronts. You look around and you see the Auburn’s of the world and the LSU’s or Alabama’s, no one has really rushed the ball effectively against those guys. We did enough in the first half to stay balanced and we had our chances to score some points, unfortunately we didn’t do that in the second half so it is a concern always.”

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