Rebels’ QB Chad Kelly confident in second shot at top-ranked Alabama
OXFORD, MS. – This week the Rebels prepare to face another huge challenge as they play one of their most notable rivals in No. 1 Alabama on Saturday in Oxford. But there’s no sweat running down Chad Kelly’s forehead—to him, it’s all about preparation.
Ole Miss’ senior quarterback lives to prepare for opportunities like that which lies ahead on Saturday, an opportunity to play in a big game with every fan of college football watching.
Kelly is no stranger to big moments as a Southeastern Conference quarterback. Last season, he became the first signal caller to lead Ole Miss to wins over the Crimson Tide, Auburn and LSU in the same season.
Right after No. 17 Ole Miss’ win over Wofford last Saturday, Kelly quickly glanced at film on the Crimson Tide and noticed something about the changes top-ranked Alabama (2-0) has made at every position on defense.
Ole Miss QB Chad Kelly on Alabama’s defense
Kelly confident in his offensive line
The Rebels’ offensive line played its role last season in protecting Kelly, who was only sacked twice while completing 18 of his 33 passes for 341 yards and three touchdowns. There’s no reason for Kelly to be afraid of Alabama’s defense this year, either.
Though Kelly will not have the same offensive line from last season, he will still have some familiar faces joining him like Javon Patterson, Jordan Sims, Robert Conyers, Sean Rawlings, and Rod Taylor, who all played against the Crimson Tide last season.
The chemistry of the offensive line has gotten stronger from week to week, and Kelly doesn’t see any shortage of confidence from each lineman who will be responsible for pass protection.
Chad Kelly on Ole Miss O-line
Kelly will need all of the protection he can get from his offensive line to avoid turning the ball over as the Rebels did in the team’s season-opening loss to Florida State. Kelly threw three interceptions and was sacked five times but against the Terriers Saturday, Kelly was carefree, throwing three touchdowns to three different receivers (Markell Pack, D.K. Metcalf, and Quincy Adeboyejo).
Kelly tried to force a few throws against the Seminoles but it has been in his nature to take risks and show the opposing defense that he’s not afraid of a challenge.
“Besides those turnovers, we were still in the game late in the fourth quarter,” Kelly said at Monday’s press conference of the Rebels’ 45-34 loss to Florida State. “Yeah, sometimes I made a mistake trying to force it downfield and not take what the defense gives me. From that, you’ve just got to learn from it.
“Now going on to another great team like Alabama, we really have to harp on protecting the ball, and that starts this week in practice. I really have to take what the defense gives me, and we should be good.”
Trip down memory lane: “the catch”
Kelly minding his “p’s and q’s” is one thing but having luck, at times, isn’t a bad thing either. There was one play last season – a 66-yard touchdown pass to Adeboyejo – that caught everyone’s attention, except for Alabama’s defense who reacted a second too late.
Midway through the third quarter, Kelly tipped a bad snap high in the air before gaining complete control of the football. To avoid being sacked, the Rebels’ QB threw the football high in the air towards Laquon Treadwell – deflecting off a Crimson Tide player’s helmet- that miraculously landed in the hands of Adeboyejo, who sprinted down his team’s sideline for an easy score.
Kelly loves to take chances, but some weren’t a fan of his bobbled pass that could have been an interception.
Chad Kelly on the deflected pass vs. Alabama
Kelly on 2014 win: “I was a fan of the Ole Miss football team”
Kelly wasn’t around the last time Ole Miss defeated Alabama in Oxford in 2014. Instead, he was with his family at a Mexican restaurant in Meridian, Mississippi.
Ole Miss and Alabama will kick off at 2:30 p.m. (CT) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The game will be televised by CBS.
(Feature image credit: Amanda Swain, 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.