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Hugh Freeze, Nick Saban impressed with the other’s talented quarterback

Hugh Freeze, Nick Saban impressed with the other’s talented quarterback
ESPN interviewing Chad Kelly after last year's Ole Miss win in Tuscaloosa. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland)

ESPN interviewing Chad Kelly after last year’s Ole Miss win in Tuscaloosa. (Photo credit: Bentley Breland)

In their weekly press conferences this week, both Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze and Alabama head coach Nick Saban heaped praised upon one other’s quarterback. And with kickoff for Saturday’s game between the two quickly approaching, both coaches are likely still looking at ways to slow down the other’s playmaker.

Rebels’ senior quarterback Chad Kelly has proven himself as an elite signal caller, honing his preparation for big moments such as this. Though he threw three interceptions in the season-opener against Florida State, he quickly got back to perfection last weekend against Wofford—completing 20-of-27 passes for 219 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

Saban impressed with Kelly’s play

Saban is very familiar with Kelly, who got the best of the Crimson Tide defense inside Bryant-Denny Stadium last year when he completed 18-of-33 passes for 341 yards and three TD’s. Saban, a five-time national champion winning coach, calls Kelly, “a really, really good competitor.”

Currently, Kelly leads the Southeastern Conference with seven passing TD’s and 42 points responsible for. Thanks to the Buffalo, New York native, Ole Miss is a perfect 10 for 10 in the red zone (all TD’s), and leads the SEC with a 62.5 third-down conversion rate. In Wednesday’s SEC Football Coaches Teleconference, Saban complimented Kelly.

He does a great job of executing their offense. He’s smart; he’s very instinctive. He makes quick decisions about where he throws the ball. He throws the ball very efficiently and very effectively.

Nick Saban on Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly

Saban was asked about Kelly’s NFL future and replied, “I can’t compare him to other quarterbacks around the country, but I certainly think this guy is a guy that will certainly get an opportunity at the next level.”

Freeze praises Alabama QB’s athleticism 

hurts

Alabama QB Jalen Hurts is the first true freshman to start for the Tide in over three decades. (Photo credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

While the 17th-ranked Rebels (1-1) have a proven leader on offense, top-ranked Alabama (2-0) has a rising star named Jalen Hurts. The freshman quarterback has played an important role already this season for the Crimson Tide offense, both through the air and on the ground. Hurts is responsible for six of Alabama’s 10 offensive TD’s.

The Crimson Tide is currently fourth in the SEC in total offense (470 yards per game).

“The first two things that jump off the page are his athleticism, when he’s able to use his legs to create more time to throw or to run,” Freeze said about the Channelview, Texas native. “The second thing is his accuracy with the deep ball is really impressive. He’s got a strong, strong arm.

“He’s very accurate. The shots they have taken down the field have been very effective because of those two things.”

Other notes

• The Rebels are 10-13 against ranked teams, 4-9 against top-10 foes, and 3-4 against top-five foes under Freeze.
• Ole Miss is 33-46 all-time in SEC openers, including last year’s 43-37 win at Alabama.
• The Crimson Tide leads the series 47-11-2 and is 7-4 all-time in Oxford.
• The Rebels and the Crimson Tide are two of only five schools that have made back-to-back New Year’s Six bowls.
• Ole Miss is looking to become the first school to defeat a Nick Saban-coached Alabama team three straight times.

Game Information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016
Time: 2:30 p.m. CT
Television: CBS
Location: Oxford, Miss.
Venue: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
Live Stats and Audio: OleMissSports.com

(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss Athletics)

About The Author

Courtney Smith

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.

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