Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze readily admits that it’s “very tempting” to shift his offense into overdrive and run a higher percentage of up-tempo plays. However, a lack of depth on both sides of the football makes that tough to do, as the Rebels are down to 64 healthy scholarship players.
“That’s my nature, it is what I would like to do,” Freeze said. “If we were a little deeper in the secondary and at defensive end, it would be even more tempting. It’s still tempting.”
Against teams like Arkansas and Georgia, slowing things down to keep the opposing high-powered offenses off the field has been and will be the priority.
“Really, what goes into it is trying to put your team in the best situation that they can be the most competitive in,” Freeze said. “You don’t want to go a bunch of three-and-outs in tempo and your defense is back out there inside a minute.”
Sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace is a proponent of Freeze’s high-tempo offense, as the style is one that he’s consistently played in since high school.
“I’m more comfortable up tempo,” Wallace said. “I think that’s my comfort zone in it, because that’s what I’ve always done. I’ve never been in a huddle. You know, probably last week was the slowest I’ve ever played even going back to high school, so I’m definitely more comfortable in up tempo.”
When the Rebels did go up tempo against the Razorbacks, Ole Miss had good success moving the football. Adjustments made by Arkansas defensively shut down the rushing attack, meaning that up-tempo style made the most sense on the final drive that led to Bryson Rose’s game-winning field goal.
“After our last drive of the first half, they decided they couldn’t fit our runs and started doing some things we had not seen on tape and we were not prepared for,” Freeze said. “It took us until about the last drive to wise up. When we went our fastest tempo in the last possession of the first half and in the last of the game, it seemed to give them more problems for sure.”
Looking ahead to Georgia on Saturday, giving Ole Miss’ young defense opportunities to rest and stay off the field in a big road game will be a huge key. The Bulldogs are a team with which Freeze does not want to get into an offensive shootout.
“I’m not confident that we’re deep enough to go score 60 against Georgia to win a game,” he said. “I think you kind of have to feel that way if you’re going to sell out and do that all of the time. You better be thinking you’re going to score a lot of points to win a game like this against the players they have.”
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