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Freeze era set to begin Saturday

The Hugh Freeze era at Ole Miss is set to begin tomorrow against Central Arkansas. The Rebels are coming off a 2-10 season last year and are hoping to take a step in the right direction in Freezeā€™s first game.
Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

 
Hugh Freeze will make his Ole Miss head coaching debut this Saturday against a familiar opponent in Central Arkansas. Last season when he was Arkansas State head coach, Freeze and his team defeated Central Arkansas 53-24. Freeze said he and his team are anxious to get on to the field and get the season underway.
 
 
 
“We’re just like all the other coaches and teams just very anxious to get started,” Freeze said in the SEC teleconference Wednesday. “A little bit tired of hitting on each other and seeing each other’s schemes. We’re ready to see someone else’s. I’ve been very pleased with the attitude and effort our kids have given throughout fall camp. I’m very anxious to get us out and see where we are and what the truth really is.”
 
Freeze hopes that his team’s confidence will be high going into Saturday’s game.
 
“I hope it’s good,” Freeze said. “I want them to be loose and have fun. They need to enjoy this process and they need to forget and not pay attention to all the naysayers and talk about last year, this coming year and two years ago. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how their going to choose to perform on Saturday, and that is all I really want them concentrating on.”
 
In his last meeting with Central Arkansas, Freeze and Arkansas State racked up 375 rushing yards and 271 passing yards for 646 total yards of offense. Freeze had high praise for head coach Clint Conque and Central Arkansas, which finished 9-4 and reached the second round of the FCS playoff last season.
 
“I’m very familiar with the job that Clint Conque and his staff do there,” Freeze said in Wednesday’s teleconference. “I have great respect for them. They made a big run deep into the playoffs last year and had a tremendous season. The biggest concern we would have I guess is they have good schemes, number one, and that they are always picking up the division one transfers that move down.”
 
Perhaps the most notable Division I transfer on the Central Arkansas roster is former Ole Miss wide receiver and kick returner Jesse Grandy. Grandy was a home run threat as a Rebel and last season for UCA and led the team in receiving with 49 receptions for 788 yards and nine touchdowns. 
 
Freeze named sophomore Bo Wallace the starter for the opener over junior Barry Brunetti, but still emphasizes that both will have their fair share of playing time. He also added that junior running back Jeff Scott is doubtful for the game with a lower back injury.
 
“He went to a specialist (Thursday),” Freeze said. “It didn’t show anything more than that same irritation he’s got in one of the discs. I still say I think he is doubtful, but he is day-to-day.”
 
Ole Miss junior safety Charles Sawyer feels that the team has a good grasp on what Central Arkansas will throw at them Saturday.
 
“They run a spread,” Sawyer said. “Pretty basic. In the skill positions they have a good group of receivers, running backs and a quarterback who can run, but they’re just a spread team. They don’t go fast like coach Freeze so that is a bonus, but they are just basic.”
 
Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack is seeing improvement from his defense and believes they will play hard on Saturday.
 
“I think we’ve narrowed down some of the things we are doing on defense,” Wommack said. “They’re getting closer and closer. Still have some mental work to do, but they’re practicing hard, and I think we are going to play extremely hard. So, we’re getting there.”
 
The Rebels enter the game with a lot of question marks they are hoping to answer. When the official depth chart was released earlier this week, Ole Miss had 10 positions where two players where listed with “OR” in between them, meaning a decision had yet been made on who the starter would be. The new offense hopes to run a lot of no-huddle, but with only spring and fall practice to install the offense, it could prove to be a challenge for the Rebels.
 
“They call it, we run it,” senior offensive lineman A.J. Hawkins said. “So if he wants to go two minute the whole game, we’ll do it.”
 
Ole Miss and Central Arkansas will kickoff at 6 p.m. at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday and is available on pay-per-view. 
 
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