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Hugh Freeze, Gus Malzahn want to set the pace

May 27, 2014

Auburn's Robenson Therezie heads to the end zone with his interception against Ole Miss last season

By Charles Goldberg

DESTIN, Fla. -- Criticize if you want, but this coach makes no apologies for running a fast-paced offense. 

"It's what I believe in." 

Gus Malzahn could have said those words, but those came from his fast friend, golfing buddying and philosophical football brother, Hugh Freeze of the University of Mississippi. Freeze and Auburn's Malzahn are cut from the same cloth, and they will wear it here during these SEC spring meetings. 

"It's what I've always done so it's not a huge challenge for me," Freeze said. "It's what I think gives our kids the best chance to compete." 

Auburn's fast-pace offense beat Ole Miss' fast-pace offense 30-22 last year. The Rebels will try their luck again when the Tigers roll into Oxford for their eighth game of the season Nov. 1. 

That's why we care. 

Freeze says the fast offense is a "fun brand of football for people to watch." 

Freeze, like Malzahn, are committed to a fast pace, whether the offense is built around the run or the pass. Freeze said coaches have to be "hardheaded" when designing the offense because "you cannot make things difficult on those front five guys. You can put as much window dressing on it as you want," but blocking is where it starts. 

A formerly hot topic of SEC meetings: Freeze, like Malzahn, says he doesn't believe a fast-pace offense creates more injuries. Some coaches do. 

"I don't think it's a fact," Freeze said. "I don't believe that it's going to be a big difference. We train for this and just as they train for their type. I follow football pretty closely and I just don't see it. I think you have rash of injuries on this year and then the next year you don't have many. As far as tempo offenses causing more injuries, I just haven't seen it. I'm not trying to be stubborn, hardheaded or totally biased to my way -- I'd love to see it -- but I just don't see there's a big difference. 

"They'll be all kind of studies and studies can be skewed, and I'm not sure who would have the final say in all of that, but I would like to see them." 

One guy who Freeze hopes is healthy is quarterback Bo Wallace. He missed most of spring because of off-season surgery, but he'll return as the starter in the fall. 

"I would like to say it's a huge advantage," Freeze said. "And I think anyone standing here in May says it is. But it's been proven, I mean Johnny Manziel wasn't a returner (in his Heisman Trophy 2012 season), Nick Marshall wasn't a returner (in Auburn's run in 2013) and those guys did pretty well. So I'm sure there are other guys that will do that. But standing here in May, does it feel good to have a guy that started a bunch of games for you coming back that's thrown for a lot of yards? Absolutely it does. Standing here today you feel better knowing than not knowing."

Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:
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