Freeze responds to jabs from rival coaches

By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal

HOOVER, Ala. – At his first tour of SEC Media Days, Hugh Freeze made news two days before he arrived – completely unintentionally.
His program took a jab from South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
Speaking on the opening day, Spurrier was asked a question about scheduling, to which he replied if he had anything to do with scheduling, “Georgia would play LSU, and I would play Ole Miss.”
It was a shot that lingered for two days before Freeze could respond, but he did so in a tactful manner.
“In 2013 they’re on our schedule. We will circle that date and maybe change his perspective about what he thinks about Ole Miss football,” Freeze replied from the podium.
He further addressed Spurrier’s comment to a smaller group of media outside the ballroom.
“I started (on Tuesday) getting tweets about what he said, and of course, the Rebel Nation wanted me to do something. I try to make it a practice that I don’t talk about other teams or other coaches. I don’t even know if coach Spurrier knows me other than the meetings we’ve been in.
“If he has enough power, he can change (that game) to this year. We’ll play him instead of Georgia if that’s what he wants.”
Egg Bowl and ‘TSUN’
On Day 2, Mississippi State defensive back Johnthan Banks guaranteed a win over Ole Miss this November – it would be the Bulldogs’ fourth in a row – and there was other talk about State’s run of success in the series.
“Coach Mullen’s staff and his players have done a good job of capturing the momentum in the series,” said Freeze, a Senatobia native. “I was born and raised in the state of Mississippi. I understand how that game divides families. I understand the emotions involved in it.
“There will be extra incentive that week to be a little bit more energized, probably a little different feeling in your stomach. I get what it means, and our kids will understand that very clearly when that time comes.”
In addition to talking about the series, there was talk about Mullen and others in his program referencing Ole Miss as The School Up North.
Defensive back Charles Sawyer says he doesn’t pay attention to that.
“No not at all. That’s their opinion. The fact states that we are, but it’s their opinion. At the end of the day, on the scoreboard it says Ole Miss and Mississippi State,” he said.
Moncrief on his QBs
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief, only a sophomore, has caught passes from four different quarterbacks throughout his young career.
“As a freshman, you’re trying to get used to one quarterback, and things were switching and switching. Now it’s down to two, and we’re getting used to it. Hopefully the leader for the Rebels comes soon,” he said.
In fact, the quarterback competition is down to Barry Brunetti and Bo Wallace. Freeze said they will go into camp as co-No. 1s. He hasn’t ruled out a two-quarterback system.
Moncrief has seen good things from both in the off-season.
“Bo and Barry are working hard. They both seem like good leaders. They come out when you want do do 1-on-1s. We’re ready to see who will lead the Rebels.”
Buying in
While three players who accompanied Freeze to Media Days spoke highly of the changes on and off the field that he is working to implement, Freeze assigned percentages for a more tangible look at the transition.
By his estimate, 60 percent of the players have “bought in” to the changes. “I think that needs to be at 80 percent to have a fighting chance. Hopefully we can get that done before the fall.”
Freeze also said he has four players who still have uncertain academic futures. He expects three of those cases to be cleared by the end of the second summer term. One could linger into August.
parrish.alford@journalinc.com