By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Ole Miss has the top scoring offense in the SEC and nation. Vanderbilt has one of the top defenses in the SEC coordinated by its head coach. It will be strength against strength on Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The Commodores may be 1-2, but they have won the last three matchups with Ole Miss in Oxford.
“I have great respect for Derek Mason. He’s one of the best men in this business and his teams play extremely hard and they’re extremely well coached,” Freeze said during Wednesday’s SEC teleconference. “They have our attention, and hopefully our kids respond properly.”
Vanderbilt’s defense ranks third in the SEC in yards allowed (270 per game) and fifth in scoring defense, two spots ahead of Ole Miss. Mason said he enjoys the chess of going up against a good offensive mind, while Freeze said he enjoys going up against a good defensive mind.
“I don’t think you could coach in this league if you didn’t because all the coaches are very, very good and we take pride in the product that we put out there. Derek is no exception,” Freeze said. “He does a really, really nice job with his kids and his scheme. He’s had a lot of experience stopping offenses like ours and he’s done really well with it. We’re going to have to be at our best, and I’m going to have to be at my best. We’ve got to have a solid plan to adjust.”
On the line
Freeze was also asked about quarterbacks being able to have part of their bodies across the line of scrimmage when they release the ball on a pass attempt. Chad Kelly had a throw like that go for a touchdown to Cody Core against Alabama. It was reviewed, but upheld because Kelly didn’t go all the way across, and Freeze said that came through practice.
“When you practice things, you have a feel for it and you have a feel that this is about how long I have on this given play before it’s too late to throw it,” he said. “When you practice that thing over the course of camp and during the season, you have considerable reps and he gets a feel for it.”
Vanderbilt wide receiver Trent Sherfield caught 16 passes for 240 yards in the Commodores’ win over Austin Peay in Week 3. It was the highest amount of catches in the SEC since Josh Reed made 19 catches against Alabama in 2001. Even though Austin Peay is an FCS school, Freeze said he put a lot of stock in what Sherfield was able to do.
“He made plays. The FCS schools don’t have the full number of scholarships that we enjoy, but of the ones they have, there are Division I kids scattered throughout that number,” Freeze said. “You do something like he did last week, it’s an impressive performance regardless of who it’s against.”
Ole Miss and Vanderbilt will kick at 6. The game can be seen on ESPNU.