Ole Miss Football Coach Hugh Freeze was generally complimentary of his team following their huge win in Tuscaloosa at Monday morning’s press conference, but emphasized that there is room for improvement on a squad that many now have marked as a legit national championship contender.
“We’re really happy with the win,” said Freeze. “There were a lot of positives, but we can play a lot better.”
On a night that saw Chad Kelly shred the Crimson Tide secondary for 341 passing yards and 3 TD (thus retaining his claim to the nation’s top QBR through three weeks), Freeze said that Kelly’s game was “average,” and that the Rebels must correct their 3rd down efficiency and their ability to break “explosive plays.”
However, he also noted that the offense played with a great deal of confidence, and that their zero turnovers were a decisive factor in the win.
“I told everyone that asked me before the game that I thought the team with the fewest turnovers and the most explosive plays would win the game,” he said. “That turned out to be pretty accurate.”
As for the defense, Freeze called it “a story of two halves.”
“The first half, I thought our defense was dominant,” he said, “[but] the second half, I don’t know that I did an adequate job preparing our defense in regards to the emotion and the output of energy.”
“It’s hard to simulate what you ask them to do on a Saturday night in a battle like that.”
— Emmanuel McCray (@EMcCray70) September 20, 2015
Coach Freeze even had a little constructive criticism for himself, too, in reference to a widely-spread video of the Rebs’ head coach celebrating alongside his players and country singer Eric Church in the locker room postgame.
“In grading the film, first, I would give myself an ‘F’ for dancing,” he joked. “Eric Church said I could sing, though. For a guy like me, just a country boy and a girls’ basketball coach, just to get to hang out with Eric Church in the locker room, that’s pretty big-time.”
Freeze said that the previous week of preparation had emphasized enjoying moments and relishing opportunities as a team, saying that the Rebels will continue to try to “make it about the people and the purpose instead of the results.”
That said, what results.
“It’s good to see that our people are having some good things to rejoice about in our program,” Freeze said. “That’s something that was important to me when I came here.”
In terms of the week’s upcoming opponent, Vanderbilt, Freeze called them “a very dangerous team.” He was particularly complimentary of the Commodores’ defense, noting that they played very well (for a half) against SEC East favorites Georgia, and a “really explosive” Western Kentucky team in week one.
Overall, the emphasis for the upcoming week was on staying in the moment and continuing to improve as the season wears on.