Just three short years ago, Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze was serving as the head coach of the Arkansas State Red Wolves. It was his first head coaching job at the Division I level, and one year later he was hired to take over the Ole Miss program prior to the 2012 season.

Freeze was replaced at Arkansas State by Gus Malzahn, who was in turn replaced by Bryan Harsin when Malzahn was hired away by Auburn after one season. Like his two predecessors before him, Harsin coached the Red Wolves for one season then left for greener pastures – well, actually, bluer pastures – at Boise State, where he had previously served as an assistant from 2006-2010.

As Harsin prepares for his first season in Boise, Freeze can relate to his transition from the FCS Arkansas State to the FBS a major college program. After all, he made a similar transition just two years ago.

“He’s probably having the same emotions he had when he was the head coach for the first time. Now he’s back at a place that’s dear to his past and that’s kind of home,” Freeze said in his press conference Monday. “When I came back here the first game, I certainly learned a lot of things. To come back to a place that’s very dear to you, you know the results matter. I’m sure he feels the same way.”

Harsin will begin his tenure as head coach of the Broncos with perhaps their biggest game of the year against Ole Miss Thursday night in Atlanta. Once again, Freeze has an idea of what will be going through Harsin’s head all week leading up to the game.

“There’s some anxiousness probably, and certainly a desire to deliver a product that makes the people proud,” Freeze said. “He’s probably battling some emotions. I still do that every year. I found myself (Sunday) feeling very anxious to get going. I’m sure he’s dealing with some of the same things.”

While Harsin may be battling emotions preparing for Thursday’s nationally televised game, Freeze is battling an even more dangerous element in Boise: the unknown.

As he explained in his press conference Monday, anytime a new coaching staff is assembled at a program you can never truly know what they’ll want to do until they put it on tape. Freeze and his staff have spent the early portion of the week trying to gameplan for those unknowns from Oxford, but it has not been an easy task.

“We sat in the offensive staff room and we go through our call sheet. ‘What do we like here the most?’ The response has been way too much, ‘Well, what are they going to do?’ The coordinator that he hired on the defense, Coach (Marcel) Yates, has never coordinated before. He’s been with some good people. When you get your deal, you’ll put your flavor to it. We really don’t know what that is. We’ve studied quite a bit of every staff he’s been on and there are a lot of different things. You can bet they’ll be sound at what they do. It will take some adjustment as the game goes on to find out kind of how they want to play us. It’s not the easiest thing. … Coach Harsin has been an offensive guy so you would think that it will have his flavor to it, also. His coordinator is coming from Stanford. You would think you would have a mixture of that. We’ve tried to prepare for all of that. It is a bit more difficult than if a staff was returning for sure.”

Freeze is not letting all of Boise’s unknowns impact his locker room, though. The Rebels’ head coach expressed confidence in his team, and his comments on Monday indicated they won’t deviate too far from what they do best.

Our kids are hungry. We’re excited about our plans. We like what we do,” Freeze said.