Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly knows SEC title game is still within Rebels’ reach
It is crunch time for the Ole Miss football team, following its 37-24 loss to Memphis last Saturday, and there’s one player in the locker room who’s all tuned in to what must happen for the Rebels to be successful from here on out: Ole Miss starting quarterback Chad Kelly.
The toughest part of the Rebels’ schedule awaits them, starting with 15th-ranked Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1 SEC) this coming Saturday night, and Kelly, who completed 33 of 47 passes for 372 yards and two touchdowns against the Tigers, knows how important it will be for Ole Miss to get back into the groove of things.
“The next five games are going to be crucial. You have to win,” said Kelly, who leads the Southeastern Conference in total passing yards (2,234).
We have to win out in order to make it to the SEC championship game, and we all understand that.
— Chad Kelly, Ole Miss quarterback
“The focus that we had yesterday in practice was great, from a coaching standpoint, on down to the players. I feel the intensity has risen in a tremendous amount. People’s awareness and focus has definitely risen,” the junior signal-caller said.
A history of bouncing back
Head coach Hugh Freeze has seen his team bounce back from tough road losses before. After the Rebels were shutout 30-0 by Arkansas last season, Ole Miss ended the season on a high note with a 31-17 win against then-No. 4 Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. In addition to returning the Egg Bowl trophy to Ole Miss, the win also launched the Rebels into a New Year’s Six Bowl.
After Ole Miss was defeated handily by Florida, 38-10, earlier this season in Gainesville, the Rebels were back into their grit-and-grind mindset as they thumped New Mexico State on homecoming, 52-3.
“We still have a lot to play for as far as conference goes, but our character will be tested,” Freeze said following Saturday’s loss to Memphis.
So can No. 24 Ole Miss (5-2, 2-1 SEC) recreate some of the same magic it found last season and earlier this season?
Kelly: “This is really like a new season”
Quarterback Kelly is a firm believer in what he and his teammates can put together, and he refuses to let anything get in the way of a possible SEC championship and college football playoff berth.
“They understand this is like a whole new season. What’s behind us is behind us,” Kelly said about his mindset and that of and his teammates. “We’re 5-2 and right now, sitting at whatever in the poll, it doesn’t really matter. We have to understand that, if we want to be the best, we have to beat the best and play our best at all times, because people are going to be coming for us every week.”
And since Kelly realizes every team from here on out will be coming for a win against the Rebels, preparation and execution will be the key for an Ole Miss offense that’s averaging 521 yards per game.
“Leaders are kind of coming out, for sure,” Kelly said.
At the end of the day, we just have to realize that we’re all we got. Nobody’s going to give us anything. We’re going to get everybody’s best game. We have to make sure we’re on top of things starting this week. This is really like a new season. We’ve got to make sure we do what we have to do the next five games and everything else will play out. We’ve just got to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s as simple as that, really.
— Chad Kelly, Ole Miss quarterback
Feature image credit: Bentley Breland, The Rebel Walk
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.