Ole Miss teammates rally around quarterback Chad Kelly
OXFORD, Miss. – Chad Kelly is the first to admit mistakes were made on his end in the first three games of the season. But his Ole Miss teammates aren’t about to allow the senior quarterback to take the blame for the Rebels’ 1-2 start.
Kelly was the main reason why Ole Miss was able to jump out to a 24-3 lead over No. 1 Alabama last Saturday. In head coach Hugh Freeze’s hurry-up offense, Kelly simply decimated the Crimson Tide secondary with touchdown passes to Evan Engram, A.J. Brown, and Damore’ea Stringfellow. Kelly completed 26 of 40 passes for a career-high 421 yards.
But the Rebels were outscored 45-19 in the second half, and once the game was over, Kelly quickly assumed blame for the second-half stumble.
“It’s on me,” Kelly said after the game. “I gave them a free 14 points just like that. As a quarterback you can’t do that. It stinks that I’m sitting up here saying that again, but I have to correct it because it’s on me. If I don’t turn the ball over like that, we probably win the game.”
(Video credit: Courtney Smith, The Rebel Walk)
‘A lot of football left’
However, teammates and co-captains defensive tackle Issac Gross and tight end Engram both reached out to the Buffalo, New York native, explaining to him that he did all he could do to put the team in position to win.
“Look at both games, we did a lot to ourselves, which hurts because it’s after the fact, and you can’t go back and change it and save the day,” Engram said about the losses to Alabama and Florida State. “But we really hurt ourselves in both of those games. We still have a lot of football left, we talked about that.
Evan Engram on the Rebels’ mentality for the Georgia game
It’s a team game
Kelly kept No. 21/23 Mississippi (0-1 in Southeastern Conference) in the game against the Crimson Tide until the very end, and the Rebels’ defense did its best to offset the turnovers that were made. Defensive end Marquis Haynes put a big hit on freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts that led to John Youngblood scooping up the football for a 44-yard touchdown.
However, the Rebels also allowed Alabama to make some plays in the second half and take the lead off Bo Scarbrough’s one-yard TD run. The Tide’s four-play, 75-yard scoring drive was highlighted by Damien Harris’ 67-yard run up the middle. Hurts also contributed, rushing for a team-high 146 yards in the game.
Gross knows the defense gave up too many explosive plays which allowed the Crimson Tide to rally, and he wasn’t about to allow his quarterback to take the blame in a team sport.
Issac Gross on senior quarterback Chad Kelly
The senior continued with other areas on the offense that need to improve, including the offensive line.
“I told the offensive line, ‘Look, y’all are going to have to protect him better.’ Then when he throws the ball to certain receivers, they’re going to have to make big plays. They’re going to have to lay out for it sometimes. I certainly feel Chad does give it his all every game, he brings it every game.”
The Rebels face Georgia in Oxford at 11:00 am Saturday. The game will be televised by ESPN.
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.