“We’ve got our hands full with UTEP,” Freeze said, his Rebels 1-0 after a 49-27 win against Central Arkansas to open the season in Oxford.
The Miners are 0-1 after a 24-7 loss to Oklahoma in El Paso, Texas last Saturday night. The game was close late before Oklahoma was able to pull away and avoid the upset.
“I was hopeful I would put on the (UTEP) film and see a team that maybe was not playing with great passion. But nothing could be farther from the truth,” Freeze said. “Coach (Mike) Price has got those guys playing with a lot of passion and heart, and they got after one of the best teams in our country last weekend.”
Majoring In Miners:
Freeze got a little more in depth on what to expect from Texas-El Paso.
“Their D-Line and their skill positions (are good), and they’ve got a tremendous tailback,” he said. “The defensive line is very, very talented. The kicking game is solid.”
"It was 7-7 until late in the third quarter. One score Oklahoma had was a broken play. Just a phenomenal play by the quarterback on that broken play."
Freeze said this isn't the same team of the Miners he saw on film from last year.
“I don’t know if they redshirted a good number of kids or just matured. But they’re definitely a different looking team (this year).”
Freeze said he knows Rebel Nation will again give his team a lift.
“It’s going to be a challenge but we’re looking forward to it,” he said. “I believe with all my heart we’ll be ready to play. I know our fans will. It was a great atmosphere Saturday night. It was a memory for a lifetime for me. It’s one that I’ll treasure forever.”
The Good And The Bad:
“It pleased me that our kids came out after halftime (and played well) after a disappointing second quarter," Freeze said. "We can attribute that second quarter to a lot of things, including myself. I called two very terrible possessions, and I didn’t put our kids in a situation they needed to be in to have continued success they had in the first quarter.”
Freeze talks a lot about the players’ eyes, and he could see it in them things weren’t going well.
“Defensively our eyes were awful the entire first half. I don’t know if it was nerves, anxiousness or what it was. We played a lot of young kids. I forget that sometimes, like Denzel (Nkemdiche) and Chief (Brown) and Senquez (Golson). They’re young kids. Our eyes were awful.”
The defensive line, however, didn’t play as he first thought it did the first two quarters. It actually played better.
“I didn’t think we were playing well in the defensive line. But that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said. "After watching the film our defensive line played really well. But there was so much separation between them and our linebackers in the gap assignment we just didn’t do our job defensively in the first half.”
Flip it to the positives, and here’s what Freeze said.
“I thought our quarterback play was really well. I thought our receivers play was well. We got good production from our tailbacks by committee. Our offensive line, we had a lot of yards and the big men led the way. There’s five of them so there were more mistakes there. We’ve got to improve there. We created some negative plays because of us. But real pleased with the effort of a lot of kids.”
It was the way things went after halftime that made Freeze most happy.
“The thing that stands out is it could have gone either way there at halftime,” he said. “I thought our kids came back out and showed some excitement and energy and played a lot better.”
Health Of The Troops:
The Rebels came out of game one in pretty good shape health-wise.
"Issac Gross is the only kid that didn’t finish the game,” Freeze said. “He actually went through workouts (Sunday). He just got kneed right in the calf. He seems to be fine, and I think he’ll be back.”
Randall Mackey was under the weather Saturday night. He’s had that situation taken care of and is improving.
“He was feeling awful the entire day, and we took him to the hospital (Sunday) and got him some medicine that seems to be working for an infection he had in his throat area,” Freeze said. “He’s doing better today.”
Other than those, not much to report.
“Everything else was a sore ankle or a sore knee. But I expect everybody to be ready to go (for practice) Tuesday.”
There is a decision to be made on the injured Collins Moore.
“We’re going to really turn him loose this week in practice and see how he responds to it and try to make a decision no longer than week three – should we go on and have surgery or should we try to make it through the year."
Freeze said Jeff Scott, while not pain free, will likely be available this week.
“He looked good (Sunday). He definitely moved around good,” Freeze said.
Freeze decided to try to get some points late in the first half down 20-14. He chose a couple of short pass completions to set up a long field goal attempt by Bryson Rose of some 58 yards.
Was that philosophy or how a particular game is unfolding?
“I think the game dictates that," Freeze said. "If you’re ahead a touchdown or something, it’s a little different. If you’re behind, as we were at that point, every chance we get to score, if they have to punt, we have a chance. So our whole deal was we’re behind, so let’s use every second we have to compete.
“I thought we could complete a couple of passes in those few seconds we had and give Bryson a chance to hit one. We did and that gave him a chance. It was probably a little out of his range. He has hit a couple of 58 yarders.”
As for the quarterbacks, the same plan appears to be in place for game two as it was game one.
“We’re going to start Bo (Wallace). I feel like Barry (Brunetti) will get his opportunity also,” Freeze said. “We’ll see how the game goes. They both did some really good things.”
Freeze played Maikhail Miller late in the game.
“I just think we’re going to need him. You’ve got to have three quarterbacks ready to play. I do believe we’re going to need him before the year’s up in the stuff we do.”
Freeze was pleased the Rebels had such few penalties. They had three for 18 total yards.
“To be pretty-much penalty free I thought spoke well to the discipline of our kids,” he said.