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Malzahn replaced current first-year Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze at Arkansas State. Both brought reputations of up-tempo, spread offenses with them, and Freeze has done his best to stay true to that with the Rebels.

Ole Miss is fourth in the league in total offense this season, showing flashes of Freeze’s same offensive creativity that led to 10 wins last season at Arkansas State. Freeze said there was “no question” that his previous SEC experience _ a two-year stint with the Rebels _ has helped with his transition, as well as understanding the adjustments aren’t just on the field.

“From speaking engagements to media requests, it’s a much higher magnitude here,” Freeze said. “But as far as the day to day operations, the kids are the same, the headaches are the same, the challenges are the same.”

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, in his first year with the Aggies, has a team that leads the conference in total offense. Sumlin, who guided Houston to the top passing, total and scoring offense in the country last season, has had little trouble adapting his offensive philosophy to the SEC.

Sumlin said he used to get input from opposing coaches about other teams while at Houston, joking that “people don’t give me a lot of advice anymore” with the Aggies in the ultra-competitive SEC.

He said the biggest change in the league has been adapting to its year-round nature.

“The coaches in this league are extremely aggressive on the football field and in recruiting,” Sumlin said. “Aggressive is probably not the right word, but competitive is. Because of that there’s some very, very talented guys in this league and some really, really good coaching.”


AP Sports Writers David Brandt, Mark Long, Steve Megargee, Kristie Rieken and John Zenor contributed to this report.