The following is a transcript of a Monday teleconference with Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze and the media.
Opening Statement: We are glad to get this first SEC win going into the open week. We are going to try to build upon it and we are going to use this week to go on the road recruiting. Recruiting seems a little better coming off a win, particularly a first in a while at Ole Miss. Obviously, we aren't there yet, but we were good enough Saturday to win and hopefully we can build on it.
Q: Can you give us an injury update?
Freeze: Mike Hilton had a concussion and is in his second stage of tests to get a release from that. We feel everything will be fine and he may get to practice before the week is up. Aaron Morris' x-rays were negative on his hand/wrist. He will be sore, but he will be fine. Jamal Mosley has a tender knee that we had to drain and it swelled back up on him. He's going to have some tests run today, but he's going to finish the year. He may have a slight tear, but he's not going to miss anything. He just might be tender from time to time.
Q: What are you going to try to work on this week? What are some areas you want to shore up?
Freeze: We need to improve on special teams. We've shored up our punt unit, but we have to continue to work on other areas of the special teams. Also, we are really going to work hard on our third-down plan on both sides of the ball. We have to win third down. We are one of the better offensive teams in the country, but it has decreased a little the last couple of weeks. I don't like that. We will put great emphasis on some fundamental stuff, but special teams and third downs will be the focus and worked on every day in detail.
Q: How do you guard your players against things like bowl talk and the expectations growing on the outside?
Freeze: It's tough to completely do that, but your team takes on the personality of the staff and I assure you when they spend time with us, they won't hear any of that. They will only hear of us preparing to be better against Arkansas than we were against Auburn. That's the only way I know to go about it. We will just be business-like with our approach.
Q: How much will you work the team this week?
Freeze: We will spend time on academics this week. I want to remind everyone that we inherited a bad academic situation with about 25 kids. Just because we were able to get them eligible does not mean we are out of the danger zone with them moving forward. We will spend an hour each day with the academic staff with those kids and we will practice Tuesday and Wednesday working on us. Thursday afternoon the scouts and redshirts will have about a 30-minute scrimmage. The other guys will not work much Thursday. Friday morning, we will have a team activity and then let them go home and come back Sunday for Arkansas preparations.
Q: Arkansas seems to be building a little confidence like your team.
Freeze: No question. When you have players like Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis and the skill guys they have, they are going to score points and make plays. Now coming off two straight wins, the other areas are building confidence. They are a scary team right now. It will be a big challenge to go to Little Rock and face them, but I am sure our kids will get ready to get after them. No doubt, though, their confidence has grown.
Q: How far has this team come and how much improvement is left to be made?
Freeze: There have been areas from week-to-week where we have struggled the week before but we have been able to correct in most instances in some shape, form or fashion. That is a sign of a team that has continued to improve. There is always room for improvement. We have to improve some special teams stuff, some first down production on both sides and some third down production on both sides. But I know the kids are continuing to give us great attitude and effort and that is what we build upon in us putting together our gameplans. We still have a long way to go, but when you think of the number of redshirt freshmen and true freshmen we played on defense alone, there is no way anyone can say those kids are maxed out. They are just beginning their journey. They will continue to improve.
Q: How much of your special teams issues are just plain old youth?
Freeze: A lot. That is where your lack of depth shows up. Some of it also is us as coaches making sure the schemes we are trying to run match the skills of the players available that we are using. We will evaluate all of that this week. We have two choices, play your starters a lot of snaps or give them a break on special teams while playing kids who may not be ready for it. It's a mixture of us as coaches and fatigue that we have to fix.
Q: How big a monkey was it to get off your back to get an SEC win?
Freeze: I found myself feeling like I was part of that losing streak and I think that has been the natural feeling of the fans and the players. It was the 300-pound gorilla in the room. Now we can put that streak behind us. It's a relief.
Q: How did Senquez Golson do in his start?
Freeze: I let our coaches off yesterday to spend time with their families, so I don't have their grades yet, but I think he was solid. He is getting better, I know that, and what I am most proud of is that he is learning how to practice and that has been a major struggle since we have gotten here. He is now preparing himself better for the upcoming game.
Q: Talk about Jeff Scott's impact.
Freeze: He's tougher than you would think a guy his size would be and he runs harder than you would expect. The tempo offense is designed around the tailback being able to make the first guy miss. You can't play fast and account for every guy who will be in the box for run fits. You have to depend on the TB to win the battle of beating the first guy 70 percent of the time. Jeff is doing that for us right now and catching the ball out of the backfield, which is big for us.