In Monday press conference, Freeze stresses preparation, motivation
At his weekly Monday press conference, Coach Freeze expressed disappointment in the Rebels’ loss to Memphis Saturday; however, he also emphasized that he and his staff will work hard to get the available players ready for the upcoming home game against A&M.
“I’m confident we’re going to play with great passion Saturday,” Freeze said. “I’m going to do everything within my power to make sure that occurs.”
Freeze gave a long laundry list of injured players, most notably:
- Robert Conyers is out for the season with a torn ACL. Freeze noted this latest injury is on Conyer’s “good knee,” not the one he had injured previously.
- Robert Nkemdiche is going through concussion protocols. Though Freeze would love to have Robert back for the game against A&M—and though Robert is such a competitor who will want to play against the Aggies—the coach has no control over the defensive tackle’s status. Freeze made it clear he would not want to jeopardize Nkemdiche’s health in any way.
- Trae Elston is also going through concussion protocols this week.
- Will Gleeson is going through concussion protocols.
- Tayler Polk is going through concussion protocols.
Offensive line personnel:
With right tackle Laremy Tunsil returning at left tackle for the A&M game, Freeze said the offensive line will see Fahn Cooper switch back to right tackle (from where he had been filling in for Tunsil at left tackle), Justin Bell will go to center, Rod Taylor and Jordan Sims will be at right guard.
Javon Patterson and Aaron Morris will be at left guard. Ben Still will play center and also left guard. Christian Morris will also see work at left tackle, while Jeremy Liggins will continue to work some at both lineman and tight end.
On the play of Breeland Speaks:
Freeze was asked his thoughts on the play of Breeland Speaks, the young defensive tackle who came in and played when Robert Nkemdiche was injured. “I thought he played with tremendous effort. Sometimes when you don’t have success, that gets lost but he is a young kid who played extremely hard,” Freeze said.
“He played too many snaps. Had to. Played 70 snaps, I believe, but played at a very high level. I was very proud of Breeland,” he added.
On the Landshark Defense:
Coach Freeze was asked what Ole Miss needs to do to get back the defensive identity it once had. Freeze answered by saying his team has “got to return the swagger a little bit, return the enthusiasm in practice. Got to get back to landshark defense.”
On 4th and 1 calls in Memphis game:
The Rebels came up short on two critical 4th and 1 possessions against Memphis. Coach Freeze was asked Monday if he had reconsidered his decisions to go for it on both.
“I don’t think anybody worth their salt when you don’t have success doesn’t look back and reflect and evaluate what you should have done differently,” he said. “I’m the same way. Certainly in hindsight. The first one, again, we’ve got to coach our kids better or execute better. We had one blown assignment that cost us a hit in the backfield,” he added.
While he would not change his decision on the first fourth and one call, Freeze indicated differently on the other. “The second one I would do differently. In hindsight, that was a bad call,” he said.
Going forward from here given the injury situation:
Coach Freeze acknowledged the toll the injury bug has taken on his team this season. “I don’t like looking at this injury list and neither do our fans, but people want results and they deserve better than we performed Saturday with the kids we have,” Freeze said.
“It’s pretty simple. We played a good football team, but we’ve got to perform better and I’ve got to coach better and our coaches have to coach better, but there is no question losing kids like Issac Gross and CJ Johnson and Tony Conner–those guys are the heart and soul of your defense. I think that has affected us some for sure, along with the many others, that provide depth where kids don’t have to play as many snaps.”
Freeze made it clear, however, that he and his staff will do their utmost to prepare the players who are healthy and able to play. “It is what it is, and we’ve got to go with who we have,” he said.
Feature image credit: Joshua McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics