University, Miss. (TLV) – Following him team’s first setback on the year – a 38-10 road loss to Florida – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze gave little in the way of excuses at his Monday morning press conference, saying that his team must “own the loss” and get back to work.
“We have to own it when we lose in difficult places to play against really good teams,” said Freeze. “The expectations of this program are to compete in those games.”
He added that the environment at The Swamp gave Florida “a distinct advantage with the get-off that they had,” and that his team struggled from the outset to find any chinks in the Gators‘ armor.
“[We] were able early on in Alabama to have a little success,” Freeze explained. “What we needed to go on the other night was… [t]o go back and forth a little bit, to settle that place down.”
He even went so far as to say that the crowd in Gainesville made it difficult to call the correct checks on defense, particularly for Tee Shepard, a regular starter who sat for much of the Florida game due to communication issues.
“A lot of teams have been doing that to us,” said Freeze. “When they do that, we have to make a check, and that is very difficult for [Tee].”
Freeze noted that “it’s much easier [for Shepard] to play at home than on the road,” but that he and his staff are “looking into everything that [they] can” to get Shepard “on the same page as everyone.”
He remained confident that his Ole Miss team “[has] the ability to be one of the best teams in the country,” but said that he “can’t control injuries” and Laremy Tunsil’s lingering ineligibility.
The Rebels have been hit early and often by the injury bug in 2015, as several key veterans (including Tony Conner, Isaac Gross, and Justin Bell, among others) have already missed playing time.
“We can’t operate like the rest of the world and put our hands in the air,” he said. “[Y]ou have to continue to build your program to where you can be elite when those things happen.”
As for the possibility of Tunsil riding the bench for the entire season, Freeze said that he “doesn’t let [his] mind go there,” and that he “would think he is going to be back with us at some time.”
“I do think [finality] is coming,” he said, “hopefully this week.”
The Rebels fell to #14 in the AP Poll, while Florida rose to #11. It was also announced Monday morning that Ole Miss will kick off at Memphis at 11 AM on October 17, and that the game will be televised by ABC.
Ole Miss will try to right the ship this weekend with an 11 AM Homecoming game vs. the New Mexico State Aggies.