By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, and his counterpart on Saturday, Alabama’s Nick Saban, showered praise on each other, and the players that make up the Rebels and Crimson Tide during Wednesday’s SEC weekly teleconference.
Freeze said he thinks his team is confident, but really didn’t know what they were just yet from a team standpoint.
“I think we’ll find out in Tuscaloosa Saturday night as you go and play one of the nation’s best programs,” Freeze said. “It’s an exciting opportunity. You coach and you play for opportunities like this and you have to play at your highest level to have a chance to win against a team like Alabama on Saturday night. I think the key is in the preparation.”
Freeze went on to say that he wasn’t crazy about the way his team practiced on Tuesday, and felt like they had to do much better so that they were ready to perform against the No. 2 Crimson Tide.
Both coaches were asked to go back a season, when the Rebels upset Alabama at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, and recall the end of the game when Senquez Golson intercepted the pass thrown by Alabama’s Blake Sims in the end zone.
“The initial play was ruled out of bounds and as you coach on the sidelines, you have no idea if that’s the case or not,” Freeze said. “I know that (Golson) came out with the ball very quickly, looking dead at me, and basically wanting me to challenge that. He felt very confidently that he was in. But most kids do. You’re not exactly sure what to feel at that time. You knew they would review it and then seeing it on the replay, I remember feeling very confident that this thing is going to get overturned and we were a couple of snaps away from knocking one of the great programs in the country.”
Saban, meanwhile, said he remembers the final offensive play for his team well.
“I saw it again this week again. We were going two minute. We had the ball on the 17-yard line. There was 40 seconds to go in the game, something like that,” Saban said. “We took a shot. The guy was open early. We kind of threw it late. The corner did a good job of recovering and overlapping and making a great play. It’s one we wish we had back and I’m sure it’s one Blake wishes he had back. When plays don’t work, you always wish you would have done something else. We had a chance on the play, we just didn’t execute it like we needed to. They made a great play on it.”
Saban then went on to praise the job turned in by Freeze over the past three full seasons.
“I think Hugh has done a fabulous job there. Their team is really, really good. They’re very, very well coached and they have a great system and scheme on both sides of the ball,” Saban said. “They really do an outstanding job. They are one of the most prolific offensive teams in the country and their defense has always been really good, and the last couple of years, one of the tops in our league. This is a really good football team and Hugh has done a great job of building it.”
Kickoff on Saturday night is set for 8:15. The game can be seen on ESPN with Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the action.