Kelly eager to repeat success of past Ole Miss quarterbacks
At start of the 2015 college football season, all Chad Kelly had in mind was helping the University of Mississippi win football games.
Kelly knows what’s expected of him and has yet to feel the pressure of repeating the past success of Bo Wallace, despite playing in back-to-back close games against Alabama and Vanderbilt. Instead, Kelly is eager and determined to repeat the success of Wallace, who threw for 3,194 yards and 22 touchdowns and led the Rebels to a 9-4 record last season.
Kelly currently leads the Southeastern Conference in passing yards (1,219).
Living up to the standard
“It’s a standard that’s been set here and Bo Wallace was one of the greatest quarterbacks to play here,” Kelly said when asked Monday about the expectations of being an Ole Miss quarterback.
And he (Bo Wallace) did an excellent job leading this team, executing the offense the way it’s supposed to be executed. And I put that on myself as I have to live up to that standard, and that’s how I have always been taught.
— Chad Kelly, Ole Miss QB
“That’s been a standard that was at every place I have been at, (East) Mississippi Community College, my high school and even here,” Kelly continued. “So, I just feel like I have to perform at a certain level, otherwise someone behind me might be able to do that.”
The biggest question that surrounded the Rebels entering the fall was: “Who will be that guy to lead the offense?” Head coach Hugh Freeze mentioned over and over again throughout fall camp up to the start of the season that he liked all three quarterbacks (Ryan Buchanan, DeVante Kincade, and Kelly) and kept people guessing on who would win the job.
After Ole Miss (4-0, 2-0 SEC) defeated Fresno State 73-21 in its second game of the season, it was clear Kelly was the starter moving forward. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 346 yards and threw four touchdowns–three to wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo–-in that game and took his confidence into Tuscaloosa, Alabama to help the Rebels defeat the then-No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide 43-37 inside a raucous Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Living up to expectations and continuing to learn
Thus far, Kelly is living to up to the lofty media expectations from fans and media, alike, and has already repeated some of Wallace’s success from a season ago. He has the Rebels ranked third in the AP Top 25 poll, which matches their best ranking since 1964; has defeated Alabama; and, has Ole Miss at a 4-0 start in consecutive years for the first time since the 1961-62 season.
After throwing two interceptions in the Rebels’ 27-16 win over the Commodores last Saturday night, Kelly is ready to redeem himself and will get that chance against the No. 25 Florida Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) this Saturday night inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium also known as “The Swamp.”
“It’s going to be a very tough task; they are all great players,” Kelly said about Florida, which is coming off a 28-27 win over Tennessee. “Coach (Jim) McElwain does a great job from the offensive side, and I know he will get the defense ready to go.”
Coach Freeze on Chad Kelly’s Vandy performance
When asked about his quarterback’s performance against Vanderbilt, Coach Freeze stated he knows Kelly will bounce back positively.
“Chad Kelly made some plays for us, but he really just had an average game,” Freeze said. “I guess the expectations are so high for him and he spends so much time studying and preparing, that there are certain things that surprise me that he chooses to do. This is because of the way he prepares. That could definitely be unfair to him. He’ll be the first to tell you that he did not live up to his own expectations and that he will be hungry to get back and prepare this week.”
(Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk)