Plenty of intrigue added with firing of Diaz
Got a chance to visit with Hugh Freeze Monday when he was at our museum to talk to the Jackson Touchdown Club.
Naturally, my first question was: “Can you believe Mack Brown fired Manny Diaz yesterday?”
Freeze shook his head and said, basically, “Ruined my day.”
No, Diaz and Freeze aren’t close although Freeze did say he respected Diaz’s coaching performance while at Mississippi State.
“We do so much preparation in the off-season on our early season gameplans,” Freeze said. “We had spent hours upon hours preparing a plan for Manny’s defense and we thought we had a good plan for it. We felt like we were ready to go against it.
“Now, you don’t know what you’re going to get. This is something new for me.”
Greg Robinson, who was at Michigan under Rich Rodriguez, replaces Diaz. So, naturally, you would think Freeze would look at film on Michigan’s defense (the one that got torched by Mississippi State in the 2011 Gator Bowl). Not so.
“The more we checked, the more we learned that Greg wasn’t necessarily running his stuff while at Michigan,” Freeze said “How much of it was Greg’s we don’t know. We felt like we needed to go back and look at what they did at Syracuse when (Robinson) was the head coach there because that’s the last time we know the defense was totally his.”
Which brought up this question: How much changing of a defensive scheme can you really do in five days of practice?
“You can’t change completely, that’s for sure,” Freeze said. “You can’t throw everything you’ve been doing out. But you can change the way you approach certain situations. I’m not that worried about first and second down. It’s what they’ll do on third down that really concerns me.”
Yes, Freeze answered, he had watched the BYU-Texas film and was amazed at the skill level of the BYU quarterback, who ran the read-option play over and over again with great success against the Longhorns.
And we all know the read-option is very much apart of the Rebels offense.
You ask me, Robinson can’t change a whole lot about how the Longhorns will play scheme-wise. He could change the defense’s attitude or mental outlook. And it could work two ways, depending upon how the Longhorns felt about Diaz, whom I always thought was well-liked by his players at Mississippi State.
They could play with more enthusiasm this week, or it could work just the opposite.
Said Freeze, “The one thing you know about Texas is that they’ve got great athletes. I mean, we saw that last year. They’ve got really great athletes, players everybody in the country wanted.”
True, and it all adds intrigue to a matchup that looms as one of the biggest early season games in recent Ole Miss history.