2014 Peach Bowl Postgame Report: Hugh Freeze and the Rebels answer in the midst of defeat


ATLANTA – It just wasn’t the Ole Miss Rebels’ day. It surely wasn’t Bo Wallace‘s day. The Rebels picked up their first loss in a bowl game in their last seven appearances. And, Wallace’s 109 passing yards and three interceptions told the story of the game. Even after forcing four turnovers on defense, Ole Miss still came out of this game nearly getting shutout for the second time this season.

There was only 10 first downs completed by the Rebel offense, and the run game looked like it had all year. Evan Engram only recorded one reception. Both, Laremy Tunsil and Robert Conyers received serious injuries during the game that crippled the already bleeding offensive line. These were similar injuries to that of Laquon Treadwell. However, these injuries were not deciding factors of the game. Ole Miss just did not show up. It was Arkansas all over again.

If there was any brightness for Ole Miss, it had to be when Senquez Golson tied the school record with his 10th interception of the season. But, that came late in the game, and only resulted in a meaningless 27-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich, avoiding a shoutout.

Many Ole Miss fans are looking for answers. What happened today? Moments after the game, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze, Wallace, and defensive end C.J. Johnson sat down with the press to answer questions. Freeze made it clear there was a lack of performance, and he to holds credit that. Both Wallace and Johnson expressed their sympathies for the seniors having to go out that way. That includes Wallace. Below is the post-game press conference.

Opening Statement from Coach Hugh Freeze:

"Obviously, very disappointing day and really got to go around that locker room to see every single senior and to see them hurt like they’re hurting today is not much fun. It’s not enjoyable at all. And it’s hard for me to put into words to them how much they meant to this program in turning it around to making it relevant again because they’re human and they can’t feel that right now. They feel disappointed.We obviously did not perform well today. TCU did. I take credit for that, responsibility. I didn’t have our kids prepared to play at a level that they deserved to be able to play and compete today. But extremely proud of our kids and how they’ve turned this program in a short three years to being relevant and competitive and just, you know, sickening that it wasn’t that way for them today because we all are partial to our kids and we believe they deserve to give an adequate representation and feel like that I let them down in getting them ready for it."

Question One: Mr. Freeze, you and Bo, Bo, you were running for your life a little bit back there.  What were the protection problems and what was TCU doing to confuse you?

"Bo Wallace: I just think they’re a good defense. They won some one-on-ones. And credit to them, they had a good plan against us. You have to give them the credit.Coach Freeze: They won a bunch of one-on-ones. They didn’t bring a lot of pressures or it wasn’t anything that I could sit here and say that — they drew up great. Their kids played with phenomenal effort, just like we knew they would. We obviously have been beat up some in the offensive line, played some young kids, made a few mistakes in protections with their movement.Then, of course, lost Laremy and Robert too, Conyers, so we were struggling with depth there and playing people a bit out of position. But even before that happened, we were — they were getting pressure on us. They are certainly had a good plan and we’ve got to go back and make ourselves better in a lot of ways in making sure that — they had a good scheme for us and felt like they knew when we were passing and when we weren’t. Boy, they won a bunch of one-on-ones."

Question Two: Hugh, could you talk about Laremy’s injury, the extent of it, and then I guess just your feeling and the time’s feeling when obviously that happened, just kind of what this did in terms of your momentum.

"Coach Freeze: I don’t know that we ever had any momentum. Our defense did create some turnovers and I thought we stopped the run for the most part. But they just had to stay on the field the entire day.When you see Laremy go down and we’re already down there, I’m sure it went through people’s minds that, man, we really are struggling right now to get people in the offensive line in positions that they’ve played and guys that have played a lot of snaps this year.The only thing I know to fix that is recruiting and we’ve got to go and build some depth there and talent."

Question Three: The extent of the injury?

"Coach Freeze: It was a broken fibula, just like Laquon’s and Denzel’s.C.J. Johnson: And mine.Coach Freeze: And C.J.’s."

Question Four: Coach, one for you, one for Bo and C.J.  First, is TCU the best team you all have seen this year?  Bo, I know you probably hate to go out the way you did today.

"Coach Freeze: TCU is a very good team. They deserved every mention they got this year to be in the hunt for one of the four. They certainly, rightfully, deserve to be in it with the others. That’s a tough deal. Glad I’m not on that committee. To pick the four is a very difficult task. They certainly could compete with any of those in it, no question in my mind.Wallace: It’s pretty obvious that I didn’t want to go out this way. I didn’t want the seniors to go out this way. Really, we had a chance to help next year’s team in the preseason ratings and that was important to me.This program’s given me a lot and I felt like winning this game could be me giving them something with a top 5 rating in the preseason next year.Johnson: Kind of the same thing Bo said. It’s just disappointing to send the seniors out like that. I mean, there’s really no other way to put it. They’re a really good football team and they just came out and they just gave it to us today."

Question Five: C.J., a question for you.  Y’all did get the four turnovers, had some bright spots.  How tough was it containing Boykin back there?

"Johnson: At times, we kind of had him contained a little bit. It all came down to execution. It seemed like every little thing that went wrong for us today could have went wrong on defense.Early on, they was hitting us with a little tempo there. We were kind of looking over the sideline, guys wasn’t quite getting lined up. Missed a few assignments.I think it wasn’t so much of what they were doing. I think it was just poor execution on our part."

Question Six: Coach, TCU has ten offensive starters coming back next year and half their defense coming back.  You voted for Patterson twice for Coach of the Year.  Would you vote TCU number one going into next season?

"Coach Freeze: They would certainly get my consideration if I were on a voting panel for preseason number one with that many people coming back."

Question Seven: For Bo, what did you see on the first two picks and then I guess what were you trying to do on the pick six?

"Wallace: Oh, I saw Cody Core. I tried to throw it at his feet to not take the sack. The guy made a great play on it. On the first one, the safety just — I should have never thrown that one. The other one, I just should have led them down the field more."

Question Eight: Hugh, so much was made about TCU’s — or not made about TCU’s defense, so much made about the offense.  Scheme-wise, how were they able to take away the run so efficiently and so effectively?

"Coach Freeze: They won their one-on-ones. They don’t do — they’re constantly moving. They cause problems with all of their moving. They’re quicker than you know, than you feel like when you’re watching their film. Their down four guys are extremely quick. They’re well coached and they have good schemes.At the end of the day, it came down to them playing a six-man box and they stopped the run by their movement, their quickness, their toughness."