Kelly says loss to Auburn hurt, but Rebels moving forward in preparation for Georgia Southern
OXFORD, Miss. – Two days after a heartbreaking loss to No. 11 Auburn, Chad Kelly still thinks about certain plays in the game he wishes would have played out differently. But as always, the senior quarterback is looking forward, preparing for whose next on the schedule for Ole Miss.
The Rebels face Georgia Southern Saturday in Oxford and will do so on a three-game losing streak for the first time since 2013. Kelly saw some good in last Saturday’s matchup against Auburn but felt some missed opportunities over the course of the game cost Ole Miss the victory.
The Rebels are 2-2 this season coming off a loss.
“It still hurts,” Kelly said at Monday’s press conference. “Watching the film, we missed on a couple of things we definitely wish we could have back. But overall, I think we played a pretty good game, one of our better games. The stats show we did pretty well.
“But out on the field, we probably missed on three or four series we wish we could have back, especially in the red zone. You’ve got to turn those field goals into touchdowns.”
In the losses Ole Miss has suffered this season, the Rebels were only a couple of big plays away from sealing victories against Florida State, Arkansas, LSU, Auburn, and Alabama.
Ole Miss has either led or has been tied at halftime with every opponent this season.
But playing for a full 60 minutes has been the hump over which Ole Miss has not been able to climb. Now, the Rebels are in a position they never thought they would been in, having to win three of the four remaining games to become bowl eligible for what would be the fifth-consecutive season under Hugh Freeze.
The feeling of sitting at 3-5 overall with a 1-4 record in the Southeastern Conference does not sit well with the Buffalo, New York native.
“It stinks that that’s the case right now. But you know what? We’ve got to look at it differently as another day to get better. A lot of us are playing not for ourselves, but our family and the guys around us. Three-and-five; it is what it is. We just got to be 1-0 by the next game.”
— Chad Kelly
Ole Miss’ offense, which is averaging 469.4 yards per game, will face a Georgia Southern defense that’s ranked 15th in the nation and second in the Sun Belt Conference. The Eagles (4-4, 3-2) have forced 17 turnovers this season.
Linebacker Ukeme Eliqwe has anchored Georgia Southern’s defense, recording 58 tackles, 6.5 tackles for losses, one interception and three forced fumbles.
Other notes from Monday’s press conference
Freeze touched on the linebacker position, a spot at which the Rebels are lacking depth. Rommel Mageo will start against the Eagles at the Mike linebacker position. DeMarquis Gates, who was hurt all last week (knee) going into the team’s matchup against the Tigers, still managed to finish the game with nine tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one forced fumble.
Gates had an MRI on Sunday and Freeze is waiting on the results to determine how bad the injury is. Freeze explained if Gates is not able to go against Georgia Southern, he will choose between Willie Hibbler and Detric Bing-Dukes at Mike.
The fifth-year coach is not set on who will start at the Stinger linebacker position but said his options include Tayler Polk, Ray Ray Smith, and Temario Strong.