All cylinders firing for Chad Kelly, Ole Miss offense as Rebels roll over Georgia
OXFORD, Miss. – Quarterback Chad Kelly was eager to get back on the field Saturday against No. 11 Georgia, wanting to redeem himself from early season struggles. The senior signal-caller did that and more, dismantling Georgia’s defense with his arm and his feet, but he had plenty of help from an Ole Miss offense that was firing on all cylinders.
Kelly’s offensive line did an excellent job of protecting him, and his receivers got open just about every time the Buffalo, New York native threw the football in the team’s 45-14 win at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. When the Bulldogs’ defense was closing in, Kelly took what they gave him—which happened to be some open lanes through which to run.
Kelly ran for 53 yards and one touchdown on four carries. He also completed 18-of-24 passes for 282 yards and two TD’s. The chemistry between Kelly and tight end Evan Engram continues to get stronger and stronger with each Saturday’s game. But most importantly, Kelly didn’t get hit a lot, nor did he throw any interceptions.
It was vital for the Rebels’ offensive line to do a better job of protecting its senior quarterback this week so he could avoid suffering a major injury off a hard tackle. But as far as Kelly was concerned, it was more important for him to take care of the football, since he felt he didn’t do so in the team’s two losses this season.
“I was just a lot more calm,” said Kelly, who moved past Jevan Snead (52) into fourth place with 53 career TDs responsible for.
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly
What was also evident was the Rebels’ determination to keep their lead. No. 21 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) didn’t play conservatively as it did last week in a loss to Alabama. Against Georgia, the Rebels went for the knockout punch, making it clear they weren’t going to drop another 20-point lead; the best way to do that was to keep scoring.
Leading 17-0 heading into the second quarter, Kelly led the offense on two touchdown drives – with TD passes to Engram and DaMarkus Lodge – to put the Rebels up 31-0 at halftime. The defense took care of the rest, pressuring the Bulldogs’ freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, who was sacked three times and threw an interception, as well as limiting the running duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to 123 total rushing yards.
Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze admitted the team used its two, 20-point blown leads (FSU and Alabama) as preparation for Georgia. Kelly thought about those as well as the interceptions he threw in both games, knowing those small mistakes must be eliminated if the team wants to win games in the rough and tumble SEC.
Despite beating a quality opponent like the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-1), Kelly is never satisfied and is always looking to accomplish more.
Kelly turns his attention to Memphis
Kelly is already turning his attention to the Rebels’ October 1 game vs. Memphis. “It’s another game. We got to stay focused. We’ve got to work hard this week, and I think it will pay off.”
(Feature image credit: Petre Thomas, Ole Miss Athletics)