“As excited as we were with the open week last week, we’re equally as excited to get back to playing,” he said, as the Rebels (5-3, 2-3 SEC) host Arkansas (3-6, 0-5 SEC) Saturday at 11:21 a.m.
“To be at home again is always nice,” Freeze said, as before the open date there were three straight home games and after the open date there will be three straight home games.
Then there’s the early kickoff as Ole Miss plays its first daytime game of the season when the Razorbacks come to Oxford. It was also announced Monday the Rebels’ game on Nov. 16, against Troy, will be a morning kickoff. That one is set for 11 a.m.
“We’re looking forward to getting an early kickoff. That’s something we haven’t had this year,” Freeze said. “We’ve enjoyed the ones we’ve had, but it’s always nice to get a variety.”
Freeze said his team arrived back on Sunday night ready for the new week and another SEC contest.
“I was proud of the attitude they came back with. We had a good workout. We’ll get things started back right academically today, and then we’ll get back at practice tomorrow.”
The open week did the Rebels some favors on the medical front, which was the hope for all concerned.
“We’re as healthy as we’ve been in a while,” Freeze said. “I expect everyone to play.”
But there are some question marks as far as some players being 100 percent.
“Still questionable are Charles Sawyer and Jeff Scott. Carlos Thompson is still on the doubtful list,” he said. “I think everyone else will be ready, except for those out for the year, like C.J. Johnson, Aaron Morris, and Evan Engram. The off week came at a good time. Hopefully we won’t be very rusty at all and will continue to improve as I thought we had the last couple of weeks.”
Freeze said forget Arkansas’ record. They are a good Southeastern Conference football team with potential.
“We’re playing a very scary football team to me,” he said. “If they ever convert drives, they’d be very, very dangerous. They control the time of possession, and they run the football extremely well. It’s another SEC battle that’s going to take place Saturday and will be a very difficult task.”
* On a possible interruption of continuity the open date might cause: “I get concerned about all those things that could be possibilities. But we needed the open week, because we were just so beat up. Everyone has to go through (open dates). We’ve got to make sure that momentum is carried on and that we practice well which requires leadership from our football team. The way you finish can carry momentum in a lot of things.”
* On getting Robert Nkemdiche, Denzel Nkemdiche, and Mike Hilton back healthy: “It gives us better depth, and they're really good players. The other kids like to know they're out there with them. Robert gives us some flexibility up front. Denzel was our leading tackler last year and hopefully we’ll have him healthy for a stretch of games. Hilton was maybe the most improved player on defense. He can play a lot of different things for us. All those guys give us some flexibility. We'll monitor Robert's condition as he comes back from not having played in a while. We'll watch that closely."
* On what the injuries might have done as far as getting some additional guys playing time: “I think it's given the kids who got to play more confidence. One of the more rewarding things you can see as a coach is the confidence and reward of a kid getting to play that hadn't played and making the most of it. Hopefully their confidence grows even more as they have better players back in the fold with them."
* On Serderius Bryant being back and in the mix to possibly start: “He’s healthy. Ran around good last night. I’m not sure who’s going to start. I know he will be on the field a lot of snaps. We’ll have to figure all that out (about starters) this week. But it’s good to have him back.”
* On the difficulty of how to distribute the time among RBs and who might start: "I like them all. Last night we got I'Tavius some reps with the ones, Jaylen with the ones, and Jeff with the ones. Jeff is not quite 100 percent, and we’ll see how the week goes with him. Mark Dodson earned a look. I like Kailo also. You’re going to see all those, and all are doing some good things."