Associated Press

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Wednesday to preview Auburn, among other topics

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Wednesday to preview Auburn, as well as discuss the recent players-only meeting, the development of Charles Wiley and more.

On the practice week: “It’s been good. We’ve had two real good days with the level of attention. We’re obviously shorthanded in some areas, but real pleased. I believe it’s a good plan. Obviously a great task in playing a good Auburn football team who’s playing with a lot of confidence right now. Our objective is to compete in such a way that our confidence bounces back. We’ve had two good days.”

On the players holding a players-only meeting: “I fine with that, as long as the leadership that’s leading it is representative of our core values and what we’re trying to get accomplished. I don’t know exactly what happened, so it’s hard for me to say, but I know that Evan (Engram) and Marquis (Haynes) were behind it. I trust those two.”

On if he’ll communicate with the players about what was said: “I think it’ll be between them. I’d already had my say with the team on Sunday with laying out exactly what I think is going on in the big picture, and that is this is such an opportunity right now for you to develop some characteristics in your life (that) when things aren’t going the way you want them to go, what an opportunity this is to set a direction and a course of your life that will pay dividends long after football is over. Here are some of the enemies that you’ll have to face, whether it’s this season we’re going through or whether it be a season in your life as a husband or a father or in a business. I already had my say with them on Sunday, so it was just a continuation of that if I know those guys like I think I do.”

On if such a meeting could have a tangible effect on the team: “Everything we’ve done here has been pretty effective, I think, during difficult losses. We’ve responded pretty well over the course of time. Obviously this year is a different year and a different DNA of the team that we’ve never had before. Every year is different. But there’s always that, and very few teams get to go through without some of that. Having done this 24 years, there’s several seasons that we’ve had to talk about different things.”

On if he has an update on his meeting with Terry Caldwell: “Naw, that’s between Terry and I and our team. We’ll leave it there.”

On guard depth behind Daronte Bouldin and Javon Patterson: “We’re obviously preparing for difficult situations that could arise. Not exactly sure who that is right now, but we’re preparing for it. The injuries have been difficult on us. Nobody likes to talk about that, but it is what it is. Our list is long, and it’s been some guys we’ve definitely counted on to make an impact and to lead and to be difference-makers. Losing Jordan Wilkins and Eric Swinney to start the year is not a great idea, and we’ve had others at difficult spots we’ve lost, too. But we’ve got to get next man up and try to stay healthy until we get a few of those guys back.”

On Auburn’s strength in numbers at running back: “Gus (Malzahn)’s offenses have always been difficult to prepare for because of all the different looks you see, and they very seldom stay the same before the snap. It’s a lot of moving parts and a lot of things going on. Any of those guys on the field could carry the ball on a given play. It’s always been that way, and it is a difficult thing. You’ve got to play assignment sound, for sure.”

On the Auburn secondary: “They’re really good. I think one of the reasons they’re really good is because of that front. They’re very good to begin with, but certainly when your pass rush is as good as theirs is, it makes your secondary a lot better. I assume it’s a combination of both, but I know what I see on tape. They don’t have to guard for lengthy amounts of time.”

On Charles Wiley: “He’s back this week. This is his first week back. He’s been running the scout team. We’re excited about his future. We think he’s a special talent.”

On Qaadir Sheppard and Josiah Coatney: “Josiah’s body’s changing, and I really like what I see. He already looks like a different guy. He’s doing a lot of extra work with Paul Jackson. Qaadir, I think, is going to be a really special player. Excited about all three of those guys, getting them for the d-line next year.”


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