Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze talks with reporters during the Southeastern Conference football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, July 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
By Parrish Alford
HOOVER, Ala. – Hugh Freeze pulled a rabbit out of a hat in his first season as Ole Miss coach as he took the Rebels from his description of a “wilderness” to seven wins, one of them a bowl game.
Much of what Ole Miss was able to accomplish centered on Freeze’s up-tempo offense.
Now some SEC rivals want to change the rules.
Alabama coach Nick Saban cites possible safety issues for defensive players. Some say the bigger guys across the front are at a particular disadvantage. First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema agrees and has suggested a delay after first downs to allow for defensive substitutions.
Freeze balks at the idea.
“I don’t think there’s any proof out there that there are any kind of safety concerns,” said Freeze to the ballroom crowd at SEC Media Days on Tuesday afternoon. “Defensive linemen commonly are more athletic than offensive linemen. They’re going to play the same number of snaps that the offensive linemen are. I don’t buy into that philosophy at all.”
Ole Miss sustained two drives of 12 plays of more and scored twice in a 33-14 loss at Alabama last year.
The Rebels visit Tuscaloosa again this season on Sept. 28. They face Arkansas in Oxford on Nov. 9.
Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace says live and let live.
“I think it’s great for football, great for this league, to be able to finally get these up-tempo offenses in here. I hope it stays the same,” he said. “I love the up-tempo, the no-huddle stuff. Let them have their opinion.”
In all his coaching stops, Freeze has worked to run as many plays possible.
‘going to take shots’
“Defenses just don’t like it, because they get real tired and can’t give everything they’ve got every play,” junior wide receiver Donte Moncrief said. “Once you get tired, that’s when we’re throwing the deep ball. That’s what we want. We’re going to take shots.”
Wallace and Moncrief did some of their best work in the tempo offense last year.
Wallace threw 22 touchdown passes, 10 of them to Moncrief.
Freeze couldn’t force the issue as much as he wanted last year, because doing so can put your defense in a bind if your fast offense goes three downs and out.
He ran his tempo package more at the end of the season.
“The last thing we want to do is put our defense in position to play too many snaps without much depth,” he said. “If we feel that’s the answer for us offensively, we’ll do it more frequently and for longer periods of time.”
Wallace says he’d like to run the tempo package every play and that is surgically repaired shoulder would be up to that task.
“Oh, definitely. My shoulder is stronger right now than it was at the end of last season, and I didn’t have a problem with it then.”