“Very good, kind of mixed,” said Freeze of the way his players responded Sunday as they got back together after a 66-31 setback to Texas. “The offensive guys felt pretty good. Defense we had a lot of sore bodies and were disappointed. So kind of mixed, but I thought both sides handled it well. We bounced back and had a great Sunday in the weight room and also on the field in the conditioning and corrections period.”
Now it’s on to 0-2 Tulane, a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, and the 2-1 Rebels’ first road trip of the season. That begins with making sure the loss to the Longhorns is indeed behind them.
“We’ve got to go back to work and forget Saturday,” Freeze said. “There were some positive things on the film, but a lot of things to get corrected, obviously.”
Freeze mentioned “fits” for the Rebels and how that was a problem in the Texas game. Correcting that situation is a priority.
“Disappointed in the times we did not fit plays properly or gave up big plays over the top,” he said. “On the other hand there were times we fitted perfectly and physics took over and they still got five yards.”
Freeze said he knows the Rebels worked on it, because he made sure.
“They’ve practiced it over and over,” he said. “I went and checked the practice scripts.”
Freeze said it’s still a growing process, a learning process.
“When you get in a game like that and you’re trying to create a lot of different movements to try to help get some penetration and some stops, it gets a little confusing probably to the different fits that you have,” he said. “That’s the job we as coaches have to do to make sure if it’s going to be confusing, you don’t carry it in the gameplan. That was the case at times.
“But again it was a mixture. It was a mixture of fitting it properly sometimes and just not getting the job done. Other times we didn’t fit it properly.”
A Hullabaloo Ahead
Tulane has a new head coach this season. Curtis Johnson moved over from the Saints after six seasons as wide receivers coach there.
So it’s new head coach vs. new head coach at 11 a.m. Saturday. Freeze said the Green Wave has done some good things despite their 0-2 mark and also fought through some serious adversity.
“It’s really two different teams. It’s a totally new staff. You watch the Rutgers game and I’m very impressed with them, particularly defensively. They held Rutgers to 150 yards rushing. You can tell (Johnson) is very comfortable facing that type of offense, coming from the NFL, understands how to fit the power game and did a great job with that. His kids played extremely hard in that game.”
Then came a trip to the state of Oklahoma and some troubles they couldn’t have imagined.
“They got up to Tulsa and experienced adversity with some of the things Tulsa did, which was a little different than what they’d faced in week one.
“Then they had that terrible incident with the kid getting injured,” Freeze mentioned of senior safety DeVon Walker’s spinal injury. “And their quarterback got hurt also. That changed the dynamics of that game.”
Johnson, Freeze said, continues to keep things moving forward with all the adversity his team has faced.
“He’s doing a very good job, and his kids are playing very hard. They’re very sound. Not sure what the status of their quarterback is now or what the backup situation is like. So we’ll have to be prepared for what we’ve seen from them thus far. Defensively I’m real impressed with their scheme and their aggressiveness.
Tulane lost 24-12 to Rutgers at home and lost at Tulsa 45-19. The Green Wave had an open date this past Saturday.
On the road, finally
Freeze said he hopes a road trop will help his team at this point.
“I actually love that. We’d rather be at home, but there’s something about coming after that disappointing loss where I like going on the road. I think you kind of get off to yourself with your team and you enjoy the process of getting ready to play another game and to get the bitter taste out of your mouth.”
Freeze said he didn’t feel quite as good about his players’ mindset last Friday night prior to the Texas game as he did the two weeks before or that he wanted to in the future.
“I thought we might have been a little loose Friday night. I want them loose, but there’s a difference in being loose and goofy. I thought Friday night we were kind of borderline with that, particularly some of our younger kids. I think going on the road will help that situation.”
On some position moves: Trae Elston, if everything goes for us this week like we think it will, will start for us at safety. We’re going to move Charles Sawyer to corner and Quintavius Burdette to corner also. Ivan Nicholas will be back this week finally from his injury and will play in the safety slot, along with (Cody) Prewitt and Chief (Brown) and Trae (Elston)
On Sawyer to corner: He was a little tentative at safety. You could tell it just wasn’t his natural deal in fitting the run fits and things. He gives us a longer corner with more experience. We've been playing some of them too many snaps. We need all those corners to run around in this league and play. There were two deep balls that were right there. We’ve got to get more physical at the corners and keep drilling technique.
On Jeff Scott’s season so far: Combination of his talent and scheme. He's off to a good start.
On Elston starting: He's as talented as we have. We hope to get to a situation we don't have to start a bunch of true freshmen. He deserves it in the situation we’re in. But he is the best fit for us right now. He will make some mistakes; he's a freshman. He would have helped us Saturday night, no doubt.
On Donte Moncrief’s fast start: He had a great night. Were in not for a reverse call and a whistle on an offsides deal (that was a touchdown run), his night would have been huge. He’s a guy we’ve got to have involved in the offense.