Only eight years removed from being the two-time state champion head coach at Briarcrest Christian High School in Memphis, Hugh Freeze is turning around Ole Miss in his first season.
John Kelley/UGA Sports Communications
Offensive lineman Austin Long celebrates with fans after Georgia’s win over Florida on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.
Georgia offensive lineman Austin Long has seen up close what Freeze can do.
He was a water boy at Briarcrest Christian when his father Tim Long was offensive line coach on Freeze’s staff.
“I can see some of the trick plays that he’s been doing,” said Austin Long, who was in eighth grade in Freeze’s final season at Briarcrest. “It reminds me of the stuff he used to do in high school. He would always pull a double pass out of his hat.”
Ole Miss (5-3) is one win away from being bowl eligible for the first time since 2009 after going 2-10 last season and 4-8 the year before under Houston Nutt, who was fired.
That has Freeze being mentioned as an SEC coach of the year candidate. Ole Miss snapped a 16-game SEC losing streak against Auburn and followed that up with a road win at Arkansas last Saturday.
“He’s a great coach,” Austin Long said. “He deserves it. He was a very good coach in high school. He’s proven himself.”
Ole Miss runs a spread offense that can go high-tempo.
“When you’re playing teams like Georgia, who has those receivers and running backs, every time they touch it you hold your breath thinking they could score,” Freeze said Monday. “I have a defensive staff that will hope you can slow this one down a little bit. It’s a balancing act.”