Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze (Photo credit: Petre Thomas)

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Saturday to discuss the Grove Bowl and spring practices as a whole

Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze met the media Saturday afternoon to recap the Grove Bowl, as well as share his thoughts on spring football practices as a whole.

Opening statement: “What a beautiful day in Oxford. We had a lot of recruits here that we got to visit with this morning, and then we got to finish spring ball today. I thought the right group (offense) won today. The offense controlled most to of the scrimmage. Shea (Patterson) was very efficient. Our run game was solid. We got everybody in. Marquis (Haynes) we didn’t play a lot. Didn’t play Jordan Wilkins a lot. Defense is banged up; a lot of DBs out. Look forward to getting them back. What really starts now is how you prepare for the next time we play in that stadium. It will matter. There has to be a greater commitment and toughness this offseason to get to where we want to go. I think we have a chance to be a talented ball club.”

On the defense: “We have a long way to go defensively. We’ve known that. We still give up too many explosive plays. They had a lot of kids that got banged up the last week and a half that weren’t able to go today, but we’ve got a ways to go. But we improved this spring. The discipline’s better. But we have a ways to go there.”

On the wide receivers making explosive, touchdown-scoring plays in the Grove Bowl: “You don’t know what to feel. You want to high-five your receivers, but you can’t give up explosive plays. It’s difficult for a coach to leave scrimmages feeling good. Something went wrong for something to go right. You’ve got to look at both sides. But I do think we have talented receivers.”

Ole Miss QB Shea Patterson (Photo credit: Petre Thomas)

On improvement in the red zone and short yardage: “We were really good the last time we went full contact in practice in those areas. Today I don’t remember a tone of those, especially in the tight red zone. I like the plan. It needs more work; we didn’t get to do it enough this spring. I thought we got better as spring went on. But I do like our plan.”

On Shea Patterson: “I think he’s settled in, and everybody knows that. He gives his teammates a confidence. It’s taken him a little while, too, because everything (with the offense) was new. All the verbiage, the drops you have to take and add to that the run game and the checks off of that. Today the call list was (small). He had a good understanding of it, and I thought he was very efficient. I don’t think he’s changed as a person. He’s always had that confidence. But the experience of playing in this league and these 15 practices, I think it’s helped him feel better. He’ll play faster.”

More on the defense: “The middle of our defense, from the linebackers back to the safety position, those are the biggest concerns right now. We’ve got a ways to go defensively. You can’t miss tackles and hope not to give up explosive plays. That has to get corrected. I know exactly what we’re planning to do with the defense, and I think it’s going to be beneficial to us. We’ve improved in places.”

On QB Jordan Ta’amu: “I believe he’s got something to him. Love his demeanor. He’s faster than anyone gives him credit for, and he throws the deep ball well. He’s getting better and better.”

On WR A.J. Brown: “I thought he performed well. He’s really talented, and he’s healthy now. He battled a knee injury last year. We got that cleaned up once the season was over. He’s had a good spring.”

Ole Miss WR A.J. Brown (Photo credit: Petre Thomas)

On the team as a whole: “I think we got better this spring. I couldn’t be more pleased with how our kids have handled difficult, adverse circumstances. They were marvelous. And the passion of our new staff was really, really good. What we start doing now is being sure we’re working as hard as we can and making great decisions between now and fall camp.”

On DE Qaadir Sheppard: “Going to be a really good football player. Really good.”

On settling in as head coach and allowing the coordinators to work: “It’s kind of allowed me to dive into the lives of our players better. I’ve enjoyed that. I’m not a great listener. That’s something I’ve tried to work on — listen to the players and dive into their lives. The challenge of it is I’ve got to learn all the new terminology so I can be involved. I’ve used my terminology since high school and really haven’t changed it. It’s been good.”

On injuries: “Jalen Julius will be back. (Eric) Swinney will be back. (Montrell) Custis has had a really good spring but got a concussion the last live practice we had. We had Markel Winters’ shoulder fixed. He should be fine. Austrian Robinson should be fine. Jacob Mathis is almost cleared to be back. As of right now, everybody is on schedule to be back. (Ken) Webster looks good, every report I get. We really need him. That’d be a guy who’d really help our defense.”

On Jason Pellerin alternating between QB and TE: “I hope not. I hope he can go be a receiver. We’ve got to see how the dynamics of our team plays out, but he needs to be on the field for us.”


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