By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Nothing about the offense Hugh Freeze will install at Ole Miss will be slow.
It won’t be the same with filling out his first coaching staff, however.
Freeze confirmed Monday at his introduction press conference that four members of his Arkansas State staff will join him at Ole Miss. He named defensive line coach Chris Kiffin, the brother of Southern Cal head coach Lane Kiffin, linebackers coach Tom Allen, tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Maurice Harris and defensive coordinator Dave Wommack.
Whether any members of the current Ole Miss staff will remain, Freeze said, “It’s too early for me to tell that.”
Wide receivers coach Gunter Brewer was one of three new assistants to join the Ole Miss staff in January, 2010. Brewer was the only one with no previous relationship with former coach Houston Nutt.
Brewer is still working in the transitional phase of the football staff but said he has not had a conversation with Freeze about a permanent position.
Freeze said he’s received a number of calls from assistants hoping to catch on.
Some names have been mentioned as possible hires including current LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson as offensive coordinator and current Duke secondary coach Derek Jones, a former Ole Miss player.
Wilson was running backs coach when he and Freeze served together on Ed Orgeron’s Ole Miss staff.
One member of Freeze’s Arkansas State staff that he did not mention Monday was his passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Grant Heard, the former Ole Miss wide receiver.
“Arkansas State had never won more than six games in FBS football. That credit goes to who you surround yourself with, along with the philosophy and the kids buying in. I have no doubt that we can do that here also,” Freeze said. “Obviously there are great coaches on the staff that we have, but certainly I want to take my time.”
One key to Arkansas State’s 10-2 season has been defense.
Wommack inherited a group that finished with an NCAA statistical rank of No. 90 in scoring defense and in the hundreds in three other major categories.
After one season under his tutelage, the Red Wolves rank No. 20 in total defense, No. 17 in pass defense efficiency and No. 15 in both scoring defense and rushing defense.
In a career of more than 30 years, Wommack had defensive coordinator experience at Southern Miss, Arkansas and Georgia Tech prior to Arkansas State.
Freeze said he “hit a home run” with Wommack’s hire.
“He understands physical football,” Freeze said. “At one time during his stay at all three of those his teams were No. 1 in their conference in defense. His teams are aggressive, and they hit you, and they play hard and run to the football. I’m thrilled to have him too.”