Ole Miss ready to get back on the playing turf for Memphis

Ole Miss enjoyed an open date and the 10th ranked Rebels will battle Memphis 6:30 Saturday in Oxford.

Here are some quote from Ole Miss head coach Huge Freeze from Monday's news conference.

Head Coach Hugh Freeze

Opening statement...
"I'm glad to get back into game prep. Like I said last week, I wasn't crazy about our bye week being that early. I still feel that way. It is what it is, and we can't control all of that, but we've made the most of it. We had some good recruiting. We did a lot of good self-study. Now it's time to get back into a very difficult stretch of games that we're going to have over the next month-and-a-half to two months. We're playing a very difficult opponent. I'm extremely impressed with the job that Justin (Fuente) has done (at Memphis) in a short amount of time. They've played with tremendous passion and physical football. He's upgraded the talent level significantly from the last time I had an experience with him when I was at Arkansas State. It's certainly going to be a game that we're going to have to play very, very well to win. It will be a good challenge for us. We need that at this point in the season."

On improvements during the open week…
"We have to continue to develop depth. We got a lot of good reps for our twos and threes. We made an effort to continue rushing the football. We're trying to come up with good stuff that our kids can be successful at doing. We got some kids healthy. Defensively there are still some things we haven't shown yet that we think will be beneficial to us later on. We will continue to work on those things. It was just about us getting more reps for our young kids."

On SEC West…
"Like I said last week or the week before, I really felt like all seven are quality, top-25 teams. I still believe that. I haven't studied a lot of the East, but the West, from top to bottom, is arguably the best it's been. We have to focus on this week and Memphis and then turn our attention to that. It's certainly going to be a great challenge."

On what stands out about Memphis on film…
"Their athleticism. The quarterback is playing really well. Defensively they're very aggressive. They tackle extremely well. They get off the field on third down, which is a critical area that you have to be really good at, and they are. They've gone toe-to-toe with one of the nation's best at their place. If their quarterback keeps playing solid, their defense is good enough to keep them in every game. That's what they've done."

On rivalry between Ole Miss and Memphis…
"I would have to say for the kids, in both programs, I don't know that it would feel like a rivalry. I don't think that matters. Both teams will be emotional because of our proximity and fan bases and all of those things. I don't know that the kids are familiar enough with the history of it to consider it that way. I haven't really talked to them about it being a rivalry game. I'm sure Justin hasn't either. These kids are all new and every team is new. It's been five years. I don't know that either set of kids will perceive it that way."

On offensive line…
"It depends on the course of the game, of course. You're going to have seven or eight that are your core guys that you feel like you can play and have great success with. That's probably where we are right now."

On injuries…
"I'Tavius (Mathers) practiced yesterday. I thought he looked pretty decent. I expect him to go. Collins (Moore) is still not ready. He tried to practice yesterday, but he's not ready to play yet."

On surprises with team…
"I'm surprised that we didn't do better in the first half of the Boise game offensively. I can't say I'm surprised, defensively, that we're playing well. I may be more impressed with our secondary coverage and our one-on-one situations than I thought I might be when we lost Tee (Shepard) and Carlos (Davis). Special teams is probably a little bit of a surprise. Gary (Wunderlich) has really come along and is handling the kickoffs very well. (Andrew) Fletcher has been solid when given opportunities. Punting is solid. I'd say running the ball, I'm not surprised at where we are. The Boise game, we take blame for that. I thought it was good that we've really only played those guys two and a half quarters. You can draw your own conclusions to that. We've still got a ways to go in that area. We've thrown it consistently since the first half of Boise so I'm pleased with that."

On Rod Taylor…
"He's progressed himself to where he's in the mix and is going to play a lot of snaps. We probably will not start him any time soon. I don't know that that would be best for him or our team. He'll be in the game very quick and we'll rotate those guys around at guard."

On hype surrounding Alabama game…
"If you guys would quit talking about it, it would help. I don't talk about. I just can't for the life of me understand why people would jump the gun. My mind would make me believe anything, usually. Because of all of the stuff I hear, everyday, I'm certainly trying to make sure our kids stay within the moment and stay on task today and tomorrow, which leads to Saturday against the University of Memphis. I'm doing everything I can. I don't see them doing it, but I know they're hearing it, for whatever reason, which makes no sense to me. We better worry about this week."

On Rebels from Memphis…
"Anytime they get to play a team from their hometown, they certainly want to perform well. There will people that they know that they played against in high school. They're going to want to play well. Any win helps you in recruiting. I think too much is made of if you beat this team then it helps you in recruiting. That kind of dies down by February, in my opinion. It comes down to the relationships you've had. A winning record and going to bowl games helps recruiting."