“The last couple of weeks leading up to this day has been filled with new first things for me," Freeze said. "SEC Media Days. Car Wash at ESPN. All those things were great experiences for me. It’s good to be around the coaches in our league and kind of see how they interact with you guys.
“That brings us to today, and I’m really looking forward to getting started. We’ve gone through some orientation stuff that we have to get out of the way. I’m really looking forward to getting on the field and seeing what kind of retention we have from spring ball for the kids that are returning.”
Freeze is looking forward to finally witnessing just how much improvement the players have made this summer.
“Also to see what we think about Paul Jackson’s job with our young men through the offseason,” Freeze said of his strength and conditioning program. “I think we’re going to see some benefits from that, and I’m real anxious to get that started.”
They “start” Saturday morning at 9:45 a.m. So what’s in store for those first few practices? What is the goal for a few days from now?
It doesn’t necessarily begin with blocking and tackling, execution and moving the chains. There’s much more that this program needs, and it’s an emphasis for Freeze and staff and has been since December when they were hired.
“Attitude and effort,” Freeze said. “We’re stressing to our guys, one of the things we do throughout fall camp is that we have nightly meetings in regards to personal accountability. When we start accepting accountability for our actions, not only off the field but on the field, the way we prepare ourselves for practice, the effort and energy and passion we bring to the practice field, I think you’ll start seeing this program turn around pretty fast. As a team as a whole we want to see great attitude and effort and them understanding what personal accountability’s all about.”
Everybody wonders about positions. How’s this group look? Where is there any depth? Where is that depth sorely lacking. It’s a mixed bag for the 2012 Rebels.
“I would love to see some kids like Jeff Scott have phenomenal practices,” Freeze said. “Randall Mackey gives us some depth at tailback and would be a very pleasant surprise. Nick Parker has slimmed down quite a bit. It’s a position we’re very concerned about depth-wise.
“I would say corner (is a position of depth and strength),” he continued. “I do think Charles Sawyer and Dehendret Collins and (Wesley) Pendelton are three solid players. I think we’ve got some young kids (who can help). We’ll have a late arrival to camp in Louis Covington, who is a junior college transfer corner. I’m excited about him. I like his demeanor and his tape. We obviously haven’t been able to work him out yet, but we’re excited about adding him. Then you’ve got Trae Elston and Anthony Standifer and some of those young guys who’ve added some depth. We’re going to need them to play extremely well.”
Line play on both sides, as always, will be key. Being physical is imperative. Depth is in short supply.
“We’re a little thin in the offensive line and defensive line,” Freeze said. “Uriah (Grant) will not be able to participate in the first few weeks of fall camp. Everything’s going well but he’s still recovering. Probably the full contact stuff and the lack of tailback will not be quite as much as we’re used to (in fall camp.)”
Other quick hitters from Freeze
On Jamal Mosley’s status: “We gave Jamal four things he had to do. He has completed two of them. And as he continues to hopefully progress toward where we need him to be and shows he can be accountable, we’ll re-evaluate that. In total honesty, we’ve tried to evaluate him with what he’s done since we’ve been here. He has made significant improvement in the decisions he has made since we’ve been here. That’s always a tough call. We’re still evaluating that and have not made a decision exactly what suspended indefinitely is going to be.”
On his two quarterbacks, Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace: “Leadership. Staying on schedule in this offense is vital to us. Whichever one can keep us on schedule and keep us in front of the chains is the guy that’s going to end up getting most of the reps in game situations. I don’t anticipate clearly defining one of them until probably after a couple of games. I do believe both will get opportunities in early games.”
On the percentage he feels have now “bought in” to him and his coaches and their system: "I think we’re about 70-75 percent there. Guys like Mike Marry and Charles Sawyer, (Wesley) Pendleton, Ja-Mes Logan, and Donte (Moncrief). And guys like Jeff Scott have made significant strides in that. I know I’m leaving people out. C.J. (Johnson). Uriah Grant. I think they’re leaders. We’ve got to develop more leaders on the offensive side than the defensive side. I do think we’ve made significant steps with a lot of kids in that area.”
A twitter question from a fan concerning playing Texas answered by Freeze: “Are we 2-0? I’m excited. I think it’s going to be a phenomenal atmosphere. It’s obviously going to be a difficult challenge. They return a lot of players and should be one of the top teams in the nation. To get them here on a Saturday night, ESPN, prime time, hopefully the possibility of Game Day being here, all that is a great recruiting tool. It’s also something our fans will enjoy, and our kids will enjoy the challenge we’ll have that night. So we're looking forward to that.”