BLOG — It’s been less than 48 hours since Ole Miss was shut out by No. 1 Alabama — a first in the Hugh Freeze era — but the Rebels have to move on quickly with another tough road test this week. The Rebels will continue their tour of Alabama with a trip to Auburn Saturday night.
Freeze reflected briefly on the loss to the Crimson Tide during his weekly press conference at the Manning Center Monday afternoon, then quickly turned his attention to the Tigers, who are 3-1 overall and have had an extra week to prepare for the Rebels coming off a bye week.
The Rebels, who dropped three spots to No. 24 in the Associated Press poll and out of the coaches’ poll completely, are preparing for a near mirror image to themselves in Auburn’s no-huddle, up-tempo offense under the direction of first-year head coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee.
Freeze drew other parallels between this year’s Auburn team and his own program.
“They remind me a lot of us last year,” Freeze said. “A very, very hungry team that plays with great emotion, great energy and great passion. That doesn’t surprise me at all with Gus’ leadership.”
Freeze, who will face off against one of his old coaching buddies in Malzahn — the two have known each other since high school and succeeded each other as the head coach at Arkansas State the last couple of years — talked about getting his team ready for an athletic Auburn offense, squaring off against a veteran SEC defensive coordinator in Ellis Johnson, and also addressed Tyler Siskey, Alabama’s associate director of player personnel who served as Ole Miss’ recruiting development coordinator last year and worked as Freeze’s receivers coach at Arkansas State the previous season.
Siskey’s role in helping Alabama’s defense prepare for his former team received headlines after Siskey, who isn’t a coach, was spotted in the press box panning the field with a pair of binoculars. Freeze shrugged it off, choosing instead to heap praise on Alabama’s coaches and personnel. Freeze said he hasn’t contacted the SEC about the situation.
“Tyler Siskey’s a good man,” Freeze said. “I hate that’s it’s been quite the drama. I’m sure (Alabama coach) Nick (Saban) prepares just like any of us would. I’m ready to move on to Auburn.”
Freeze also hit on the Rebels’ health. Defensive end C.J. Johnson is dealing with an ankle sprain while freshman defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, who played some on the interior Saturday, may have a broken finger, though he won’t miss any time, Freeze said.
Wide receiver Donte Moncrief is dealing with a sprained shoulder, and defensive lineman Carlton Martin didn’t make the trip to Tuscaloosa. Both are expected to play this week, Freeze said.
Below is a snippet of Freeze’s meeting with the media.
Check out Tuesday’s print edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Freeze’s press conference. (September 30, 2013)