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Video: ESPNU Ole Miss All-Access

ESPNU cameras honed in on Hugh Freeze and his Ole Miss Rebels on Tuesday, Oct. 16.  The show lasts a full 23 minutes, so instead of simply providing the video, we decided to point out what stood out to us in the peek behind the curtain of Freeze's program. The Worldwide Leader had good timing, as Ole Miss was fresh off a 41-20 win over Auburn. 

The show opens with Freeze and his staff in the meeting room. The staff is reading through "The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge" by Tony Dungy. Today's passage focuses on the importance of expressing love to your children. Moments like that won't help Ole Miss gain a schematic edge over their next opponent, but they will help the staff pull together when the Rebels find themselves down by five on the road with two minutes to play. 

Oddly enough, watching Ole Miss All-Access made me realize the far-reaching impact that Oregon has had on college football. At the 8:30 mark, Freeze explains how important it is for his program to "Win the Day." The phrase is plastered on the wall in Ole Miss' football facility, and it's even on the front end of the golf cart Freeze drives through campus to make sure his players attend class.  

Freeze also subscribes to another Oregon staple - short, efficient practices.

"We don't practice long," said Freeze. "The shorter practices for us are sometimes the better ones. You've got to be on top of your details to do that and you have to have great energy and coach on the run, becuase we're not going to have any time to correct on the field. We do that in the film room."

Freeze's assistants are the stars of the show. ESPN cameras take viewers in the film room with offensive line coach Matt Luke, cornebacks coach Wesley McGriff and special teams coordinator/linebackers coach Tom Allen. The coaches are clear, effective communicators that clearly have the respect and attention of their players.

"Our assistant coaches are invaluable," Freeze explained. "They really are where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Every single person in this building was faced with one tasked when they were hired by me and that is to capture the hearts and minds of our players."

Freeze spent the majority of his attention on the offensive backfield working with quarterbacks on the timing, fundamentals and decision-making of the Rebels' spread offense.

Freeze is in his first year as the Rebels' head coach but not his first go-round in Oxford. He served as an assistant in the Ole Miss program from 2005-07. He remembers the tradition of Ole Miss football - and thinks he can lead them back there.

"It's not that long ago that this program was competing for the (SEC) West championship," Freeze told the ESPN cameras (21:30 mark). "Certainly there's been a few lean years here but there's no reason it can't be restored."

The show closes with Freeze motivating his team for the short term, to stay focused during their off week, and the long term, to keep improving throughout the season.

"Don't be satisfied with where we are," Freeze said. "Let's keep it moving forward. Keep building until the end of the year."

So far, so good. The Rebels defeated their next opponent, Arkansas, 30-27. 

 

Howard Schnellenberger: I can convince anyone Kentucky is a good job

Howard Schnellenberger, the famed head coach at Miami, Louisville, Oklahoma and most recently at Florida Atlantic, recently gave an interview to Larry Vaught at VaughtsViews.com. Schnellenberger provided a myriad of thoughts on what direction Kentucky should go in hiring its new head coach, provided they indeed decide to make a change.

“Miami was going to drop to Division I-AA before I got there and it was about the same way at Louisville,” Schnellenberger said. “Both were on their last gasp. They both called a timeout and tried to analyze what to do and who to bring in. In both cases, they brought in somebody that was bigger than the job. That’s one part of the equation at Kentucky."

Obviously Kentucky is nowhere close to dropping to FCS, but the program has struggled of late. Kentucky football recently dropped below .500 all-time for the first time since 1902. The Wildcats are 1-8 this season and are in the midst of their third straight losing season.

“If they do decide make change, they have to decide what they have done in the past will not get it done,” said Schnellenberger. "Bring in someone with a proven track record and has a reason for wanting the job. If you give me 20 minutes with a coaching candidate, I can convince him why Kentucky is a good job.”

Schnellenberger emphasizes that the ideal coaching candidate not only knows how to win, but wants to win at Kentucky.

“Kentucky has every natural resource you need to be good,” Schnellenberger said. “There should be no inferiority complex at Kentucky. If the university will focus its resources financially, spiritually and psychologically for the development of a great football program with the right guy in charge that brings a lot of confidence with him and a lot of public awareness to the university, then they have a chance to succeed."

According to Schellenberger, Kentucky presently finds itself stuck between mediocrity and success. From 2006 to 2011 the Wildcats bounced anywhere from five to eight wins. 

"The worst thing that can happen to a program is going 4-8, 6-6, 5-7, maybe 7-5," he said. "Just good enough to every once in a while have a winning season. Those are the ones that limp along and there’s no way they will take the next leap up.”

But Coach, does Kentucky have the facilities to compete in the SEC?

“Bull—-. Facilities are the last thing you need," said Schnellenberger. "At Miami we had the worst facilities of any top 100 team in the country and we won the national championship. At Louisville, look at where we were before they got Papa John’s (Cardinal) Stadium and we beat Alabama."

In Schnellenberger's mind, everything Kentucky needs to succeed is already at its fingertips. He thinks an SEC schedule can be used to the Wildcats' benefit in recruiting.

"Kentucky is in the greatest conference in the world. It’s people that make a difference because you have the schedule to sell. You are in the most productive, financially sound conference in all of them. The university is an outstanding academic institution. You are sitting in a great geographical area. And you are fortified by the best basketball team in America.”

If there are four schools in the country that will never be confused as anything but a basketball school, Kentucky is one of them. But Schnellenberger doesn't see that as a negative.

“At Louisville, I used the basketball program," he said. "Can you imagine bringing football players in from Florida and bringing them into Rupp Arena on any given game and see the pageantry and excitement and all that. That is a recruiting opportunity that is unprecedented. Only a few schools have that kind of stage. You have all kinds of stuff going at Kentucky.”

It remains to be see what steps Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart takes with his football program but a stop in Louisville to see the old coach is certainly one of them.

Read the full interview at VaughtsViews.com.

Maryland is at it again with unique uniforms

After last years season opener, Maryland has become synonymous with using their state flag in their uniforms. 

First the helmets and the jerseys, and now the cleats. They'll be rocking the black uniforms pictured above for tomorrow's game against Georgia Tech.

Take a look at the cleats and gloves below.

MarylandCleats

MarylandGloves

Paul Johnson defends his program

Georgia Tech isn't sitting where Paul Johnson and his staff had hoped to be at this point in the season. Instead of being in the drivers seat for the ACC title, they're battling their way back to .500 and are currently sitting at 3-5 (2-3 in ACC play) heading into this weekends match up with Maryland (4-4, 2-2).

Earlier this week, Johnson got on 790 The Zone and took calls from listeners who didn't dice their words when it came to the program's recent struggles.

Johnson reminded callers and listeners of how close they are to having a record that looks much different.

"We’ve lost two games in overtime. It isn’t making excuses, it’s just facts. We’ve lost two games in overtime. We lost the one at Clemson after being ahead in the fourth quarter. But all in all we played with them to toe to toe until we fumbled the snap on 4th and 1 from the 7 yard line. If we don’t fumble the snap, maybe we go up two scores in the fourth quarter and it’s different."

Johnson was also asked about recruiting and if they're bringing in the caliber of players that can compete in the ACC, and responded by noting that they've entered the fourth quarter five different times with a lead.

"If the talent level is that bad, then we must be doing a hell of a job coaching to stay in there and I don’t think that’s the case. We’ve got to finish the games. Now, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. We need to win games"

Two areas that casual fans always seem to critique the most when a team is struggling is the play of the quarterback, and the playcalling. Georgia Tech is no different. Johnson responded to one caller on the radio show Wednesday by saying that he's not ready to throw the season away and start over with a back up quarterback, and added that calling plays on Saturdays is much different than calling one with a controller in your hand in the living room.

"You try to call the plays that people can run," Johnson explained. "I don’t mean this in a  bad way or whatever, but it’s not like PlayStation, where you just pick a play. You have guys out there who can do certain things. And if guys struggle pulling, you don’t run the pulling plays. If guys aren’t as good at throwing one way, you try to throw the other way. That’s all the things that you know from being with those guys every day in practice and going into the game plan.”

He explained that if he does decide to get the backup quarterback some snaps, it won't be because someone told him to do it.

"It’s going to be because I think he gives our football team the best chance.  Because my job is to try to give us the best chance to win the game. I see those guys every day we practice. I know there’s a lot of people out there that can do my job better than I can. I gotcha. I understand that. But pardon me if I’m not going to listen to everybody who tells me who I should be playing, what I should be doing."

"I’ve managed to survive for 34 years doing what I’m doing without getting fired and we’ve won a lot of games. If I’m going to go down, I’m going to go down doing what I do and knowing what I know."

The last four games on their schedule will test the Yellow Jackets. After traveling to Maryland this weekend, they'll wrap things up at North Carolina (6-3, 3-2), before taking on Duke (6-3, 3-2) at home, and ending the regular season against rival Georgia (7-1, 5-1). We'll see how things shake out, but that's a heck of a stretch when your looking to get things back on track. 

"We grade the performance, not the person"

Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder was asked yesterdat how he manages to keep things light and fun at practice and how that has played a role in the team's success this season.

Snyder answered by explaining, "We're all in this together, and it starts at the top with Kevin (Sumlin)."

"Kids have got to trust you nowadays...times are different. They just are, even with my girls. They have to know that you care about them, you have to have a little fun, and you have to keep it real with them. I think players respond to that at all levels. That give me an opportunity, when it is time to put the foot down, I can do that, and they don't take it personal."

Then he added, "We're grading the performance, not the person. That's the key."

If your a coaching staff that hands out performance based grades, or breaks down film with the whole team after your games, that point may be something worth touching on before you hit "play" next time. Good stuff.

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