By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, at his regular Monday news conference, adamantly defended both of his decisions that backfired and contributed to the Rebels’ inability to close with a win against a solid SEC opponent on Saturday night.
Texas A&M, playing its first road game as a league member, stopped running back Jeff Scott for no gain and was able to score the decisive points in its 30-27 victory minutes later, capping a dramatic rally from a late 10-point deficit.
The Rebels’ next chance to snap an SEC losing streak that stands at 16 games and more than two years is this Saturday when struggling Auburn (1-4, 0-3 SEC) visits for an 11:21 a.m., kickoff. The game will be televised as part of the SEC Network package and aired locally by WCBI.
Ole Miss last defeated an SEC opponent when it beat Kentucky 42-35 at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Oct. 2, 2010.
“I want to be clear. I would go for that again every single time. On fourth-and-an-inch, with the game on the line for our team to win it with the state of the program as it is … and not give that ball back to Johnny Manziel and the A&M offense,” Freeze said.
Freeze’s decision to attempt to keep control of the football on fourth-and-short from his own 39 has not been met with as much criticism as decision to attempt the play by having quarterback Bo Wallace take a shotgun snap rather than receive the exchange from under center.
He chose to run a read option play that the Rebels with which the Rebels had previously had big success. Freeze said the Aggies “sold out” to the play and guessed right by blitzing the free safety to meet Scott head-on.
“The first time we do that and go quarterback sneak, which is my natural progression to do, I’ve proven that through the games, they go to a ‘Bear’ defense. I was concerned they would jump in Bear again, and we would have our hands full,” he said.