With all the hype “outside the walls” of Ole Miss football this week, and it is enormous locally and nationally, Freeze said things won’t change as far as the way his team approaches anything.
“We’re very excited about this week,” said Freeze with his team 2-0 to start the season. “We’ve got one of the nation’s best teams coming to Oxford. Our kids and our fans and our coaches are very excited about the opportunity that it presents.”
But, it is one week of the season and only one game out of 12.
“We will not change a single thing,” Freeze said of preparing for the 2-0 Longhorns. “We’ll approach it the exact same way as I approached games when I was at Lambuth or at other conferences or even in high school. We’ll treat it the same way. Hopefully you won’t notice a difference in anything that we do. Saturday night it will obviously be a little more excitement around. Our young kids will have to handle that emotionally. But we won’t treat our preparation any different.”
Still, there is that great opportunity because of the reputation of Texas, the following the Longhorns have, and the stature of their program. Freeze can’t do anything about that, and he hopes to channel it into positives for his players.
“It’s a great opportunity and it’s going to be a great environment,” he said. “Our kids will hopefully be very excited, and our young kids will show up not too anxious or emotional and play sound football and give us a chance to compete in it.”
Therein lies the catch. How will those players handle this week and this Saturday? Central Arkansas, which Ole Miss defeated 49-27, is one thing. Texas-El Paso yet another, and a more difficult challenge than week one on the field, and Ole Miss won the game 28-10.
Texas-Austin, a top 15 team in any poll you look at this week, yet another step deeper into the realm of college football’s more difficult assignments.
Freeze said his team is record-wise right where they want to be. Other than that, there are some things they must do better to compete Saturday in the 8:15 p.m. ESPN contest.
“I think with the state of our program right now, it would be hard to say we’re where we want them to be,” he said of entering game three. “We wish we had some more depth. We wish we were more talented in certain spots.
“But for the kids that we have, I wish we had played four great quarters the other night,” he continued. “Had we done that I would say we are as good as we could be going into this game. But we didn’t. We’ve played two football games and not really played a complete game.”
He certainly doesn’t fault the effort of his players as they embark on new challenges these past eight months and truly move into a bigtime situation in college football Saturday. Freeze said it’s what he asks of them, and they’ve produced in that regard.
“Certainly I think our kids have put their heart and soul into it and given great effort,” he said. “But we’re still playing a lot of young kids. Texas is, too, but theirs look a little different. But they’re playing a lot of young kids also.”
Not quite a rock star – yet:
Freeze, when asked about quarterback Bo Wallace attaining a bit more “status” among the Ole Miss faithful after two solid games says, basically, not so fast, my friend.
“The last thing we want is for him to thinking he’s a rock star, I assure you,” Freeze said, drawing chuckles from the media and others gathered in the room. “He doesn’t need any more push to go that route.”
Freeze then said a bit more concerning his thoughts on Wallace.
“He’s actually a very humble kid. But he’s all boy,” he said. “I hope he is (understanding what) the quarterback at Ole Miss carries with it. You’re just not a normal kid from Giles County, Tenn., anymore. He’s played well and everybody that didn’t recognize him probably does now. That’s something Dan (Werner) and I talk to him quite often about.”
Freeze said there really is no ego involved.
“All joking aside, he really is a humble kid. Playing well is not going to his head. It really drives him and he wants to do better. I don’t have to worry about his ego. You do worry about him recognizing the actual magnitude that this position has at a place like Ole Miss."
Take care of the ball:
Ole Miss had four fumbles and lost three of them in the UTEP game. Freeze said nothing is more important than taking care of the football.
“Great concern,” he said of those turnovers. “Our No. 1 rule on offense is to take care of football. The team that wins that turnover ratio usually does well."
Freeze said they work on that aspect as soon as a game is over, basically.
“Every Sunday we work ball security,” he said. We’ll just keep addressing it. I don’t like talking about it. The positives of it are just take care of the football. We’ll continue to put an emphasis on that.”