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Rebels’ Issac Gross concerned about number of hits on QB Chad Kelly

Rebels’ Issac Gross concerned about number of hits on QB Chad Kelly

OXFORD, Miss. – Senior Issac Gross thinks Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly has taken more than enough hits in the team’s first three games this season. At Monday’s press conference, Gross said he talked to Kelly after Saturday’s loss to No. 1 Alabama about starting to either slide or run out of bounds.

gross6Gross watched from the Rebels’ sideline as Kelly was taking hit after hit from the Crimson Tide’s defensive line. Kelly was sacked three times for a loss of 25 yards, and Gross says he saw how any time Kelly took off running, the senior signal-caller would run at full speed in the area of an Alabama defender, take the hit, and then bounce back up.

But Gross is concerned about how much longer Kelly can continue to take hits before suffering a serious injury. For the season, Kelly has been sacked eight times.

“I was worried about that,” the defensive tackle said after Saturday’s game against the Crimson Tide. “We were talking last night. He was saying he wanted to keep running on Saturday. I was like, ‘I didn’t want you to keep running because I like Reuben Foster as a linebacker and he’s coming to take your head off. I need you. You know what I’m saying? We’ve got a full season.’

So I didn’t want him to keep running. I understand great players want to do whatever they can to win a game, but that’s our quarterback. We need him. He did what he could, but I feel like he doesn’t have to take shots like that. They’re hitting him too much.

Issac Gross on Chad Kelly getting hit by defenders

Kelly is one of the most important pieces for No. 21/23 Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1 Southeastern Conference), especially as the running game is still trying to find its way to stability. Against the Crimson Tide, Kelly had to throw the football 40 times, completing 26 of them for a career-high 421 yards, while throwing three touchdowns. The Buffalo, New York native also ran for 43 yards on 14 carries, just two yards shy of senior running back Akeem Judd’s team-high 45 yards.

Though Chad Kelly was quick to take the blame in the loss to Alabama, Gross was just as quick to point out how much respect he has for his quarterback — and what a phenomenal player he is.

“I tell Chad all the time just do his part,” Gross said. “To me, I certainly feel like that’s the best quarterback in the nation. That’s my quarterback, and that’s my brother, and I stand behind him no matter what. It takes so much for somebody to take the blame for that. I just told him just go out there and focus.

Kelly currently leads the SEC with 10 passing touchdowns and is responsible for 60 of the Rebels’ 115 points scored this season. In addition to talking to Kelly, Gross made his presence felt to the offensive line about the importance of pass protection.

I talk to Robert Conyers a lot. Rod Taylor could be a great leader in my eyes, I believe. I tell him all the time like ‘Rod, I know you’re young, but you can really step up and lead this team in a way. You can lead that offense.’ We talk all the time because we love each other so much.

Gross was quick to point out the love he and his teammates have for one another dictates their ability to talk to one another–regardless of on which side of the ball they play.

We’ve got a bond. Offensive players, defensive players, we all bond together. A guy in my position, I can go up to an offensive player — in the wrong or in the right — and tell him, and he listens to me. And the same way, someone like Robert Conyers can come on the defensive side and say something to one of us.

Issac Gross on the Rebels’ bond with one another

Gross’ thoughts on No. 11/12 Georgia (3-0, 1-0)

“Man, Georgia, they’re going to pound the football. They’re a tough run team to stop; they throw the ball too. I see more of a play action team. They’re going to pound the ball.”

Gross is also impressed with the Bulldogs’ freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, saying: “So far, he’s leading the team well.”

Feature image credit: Joey Brent, The Rebel Walk

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 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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