Highlights from Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze and Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin on the SEC teleconference …
“We’re very excited to be back at home. It’s been a long time and a difficult stretch we’ve had on the road. It doesn’t get much easier with A&M and LSU in back to back weeks, but I know our kids are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd. The game at Auburn was a difficult atmosphere, and we did not play our best. We’re building in Year 2 of our program, and I’m encouraged by what I see how are kids are playing and fighting.
“I can’t tell you the excitement and joy we have. It feels like now we can get into some type of routine to where you’re not getting back at 3 and 4 in the morning on Sunday morning and being back in the office at noon time. It’s been draining on the kids, particularly the young ones. I know they’re very excited to be home.”
How do you feel you guys weathered the road games?
“I feel good about the early part of it. The wins at Vandy and Texas were really nice. Then two difficult back to back games at Alabama and Auburn two tough places to play. We did not play our best for whatever reason. I’m not talking about getting beat in 1-on-1s as much as making a mental mistake on a play that could have resulted in a first down or a score. We’ve got to get those things corrected. All in all if you’d have told me we’d have been at this point before the season started you’d have felt pretty good about it.” (Calls the last two games a bit of a “downer.”)
“He wants to stay in the pocket more. He’s confident he can make all the throws and doesn’t have to use his feet all the time. He’s proving he’s more of a complete quarterback. Not that he’s afraid to. If he has to use his feet, he’s going to extend plays better than any I’ve ever seen or coached against.”
Last year’s game
“I think they’re pretty resilient and forget things pretty quick. Any of those losses last year that were like that I think we actually gained a lot of confidence because of where we were when I got here.” (References several plays and says, “Any one of them go our way and the game is pretty much over.”)
“We’ve got a couple games where they had quite a few guys out. Then the Bama game. We’re not very similar to them and Arkansas, who we’re not very similar to. I’m not real sure exactly what we’re going to get. I know they’re younger on that side than they were last year, but they’re quality players, and they do a lot of things. It’s one of the weirder teams I’ve had to prepare for just based on what we’ve had to look at. It’s been hard for me to tell a whole lot.”
“We’re coming off a bye week which I think we needed. We took some time to really heal up mentally, emotionally and physically. With a bunch of young players I think it came at the right time for us. There’s a different stress level for young guys at this level. This time of year, last week and this week, really our first round of tests and quizzes academically. It came at a good time for us to re-charge our batteries. We’ve got a good test at Ole Miss. I’m happy that we’ve been on the road once with these guys.”
Recruiting the next QB
(Is there anything that’s intimidating about that when you’ve got a guy like Johnny Manziel?) “No. Not at all.”
(What kind of pitch do you make?) “We’ve made that pitch. We signed the Gatorade player of the year in the state last year, and right now we’ve got one of the best ones in the country committed.”