BLOG — With a roster depleted by injuries, Ole Miss’ performance against LSU wasn’t flawless. But it was good enough to best the Tigers for the first time since 2009, which made for a more upbeat tone from head coach Hugh Freeze during his weekly press conference Monday afternoon at the Manning Center.
By now, most everybody knows the story. Ole Miss entered last week’s game without five defensive starters, a number that grew late in the week after CB Senquez Golson was suspended for a violation of team rules. Senior RB Jeff Scott also sat with a thigh bruise.
Despite its shortcomings, the defense turned in one of its most inspired efforts of the season, shutting the Tigers out for two and half quarters and holding one of the league’s best offenses to 388 yards, nearly 100 less than what LSU was averaging. Andrew Ritter’s field goal with two seconds left made it stand up to snap the Rebels’ three-game losing streak.
Freeze called it “one of the most complete games we’ve played” since taking over the job in 2012.
“I can’t complain about a whole lot,” Freeze said. “Then defensively, you can’t find anything to complain about because being as short-handed as they were and holding that unit who was the leader in our conference in most every (offensive) category, holding them to the number they did, I thought, was a phenominal effort and plan.”
The game brought to a close a midseason gaunlet that saw Ole Miss play three top-10 teams in a four-week span. The only team that wasn’t ranked at the time, Auburn, is coming off a win at Texas A&M and debuted at No. 11 in the season’s first set of BCS rankings released yesterday.
Freeze said he’s relieved the Rebels (4-3, 2-3 in SEC) have that stretch behind them now, but he doesn’t want his team to lose focus this week as it takes a break from SEC play with a matchup against Idaho on Saturday (6:30 p.m., CSS). The Vandals’ lone win came against Temple last month.
“We’ve got a team coming in this week that I’m sure will feel nothing to lose playing in an SEC home and (will) have a chance to make some noise just like many teams did last weekend,” Freeze said. “We don’t want to be on the other end of that.”
Among other things, Freeze also hit on the play of QB Bo Wallace, the injury situation and this week’s practice routine, which the coach said would mirror last week’s short-but-sweet sessions as the Rebels try to get healthy.
LB Serderius Bryant is still waiting to be cleared from concussion protocol, Freeze said, while DEs Robert Nkemdiche (hamstring) and Carlos Thompson (stinger) are out. CB Mike Hilton (hamstring), LB Keith Lewis (unspecified), DE Cameron Whigham (unspecified) and Scott are all questionable. Freeze also said Golson has returned to practice, but his status for Saturday will be decided later in the week.
Freeze also said freshman TE Evan Engram will undergo surgery on his ankle today. The team announced yesterday he would miss the rest of the season with the injury.
A clip of Freeze’s meeting with the media is below.
See Tuesday’s edition of the EAGLE for complete coverage from Monday’s press conference. (October 21, 2013)