Chad Kelly

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No. 23 Ole Miss blows away No. 12 Georgia

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The story of September for No. 23 Ole Miss (2-2, 1-1 SEC) had been the inability to keep its foot on the gas pedal once it jumped out to a sizable lead against a quality opponent. Whether it was a lesson learned or the mere fact that No. 12 Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) was over-ranked heading in, the Rebels did not let up Saturday afternoon in Oxford. Ole Miss built a 17-0 lead in the first quarter, took a 31-0 lead into the halftime break and went on to demolish Georgia, 45-14.

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly was able to get an early rest after one extremely productive first half. Before Hugh Freeze handed the offense to backups quarterbacks, Kelly completed 16 of 21 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. The ball was distributed pretty well between the running and passing games as well. Eight different players caught a pass for Ole Miss, and seven different Rebels carried the football at least once. Kelly took off four times for 53 yards and a touchdown in addition to his efficient day through the air.

Georgia’s running duo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel rushed for a combined 123 yards, but neither scored a touchdown before the game started to get out of hand and away from Georgia’s strength. The early hole meant Georgia had to try and catch up through the air, with freshman quarterback Jacob Eason having a rough afternoon on the road. Eason completed 16 of 36 pass attempts for 137 yards and an interception, and a number of dropped passes.

Georgia will return home and hope the momentum is quick to swing back in its favor next week. The Bulldogs play a pivotal SEC East contest against Tennessee. The Vols are playing an important SEC East game today against Florida. Georgia may need a win at home to bounce back, with games at South Carolina and at home against Vanderbilt following before a bye week. After the bye week comes the annual game in Jacksonville against Florida. How Kirby Smart gets his team to come back next week with Eason will be key as Georgia looks to prove this loss was a bit of a fluke.

There was certainly nothing flukey about it though, as Ole Miss showed what they can do when they play a complete game. For the first time this season, Ole Miss did not get tired against a physical opponent and continued to make plays all afternoon to lock down the win. This was one Ole Miss needed to have after the way this month has played out thus far. Next up for Ole Miss is a bit of a revenge game at home next week against Memphis of the American Athletic Conference. The Tigers stunned Ole Miss last season with Paxton Lynch at quarterback and Justin Fuente coaching. Both have moved on from Memphis (Lynch to the NFL, Fuente to Virginia Tech), so the Tigers will have their work cut out for them if they are to pull the stunner once more. Ole Miss will be a prohibitive favorite and get a chance to get to the bye week with a winning record before heading to Arkansas and then to LSU before returning home to play Auburn.

Ole Miss builds decisive lead even they may not relinquish vs. Georgia

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The first quarter today in Oxford, Mississippi went about as expected for anyone who has watched Ole Miss play a football this season. The Rebels jumped all over Georgia with a 17-0 first quarter advantage, doubling the offensive production of the Bulldogs and forcing a turnover and returning it for a score. Of course, what happens after building a double-digit lead is what has been the story of the season for Ole Miss this season, with two blown double-digit leads resulting in losses against Florida State and Alabama. At the half, Ole Miss leads Georgia by a score of 31-0, and even they may be able to hold on to this one.

The Rebels opened the scoring at home on their first offensive possession by settling for a field goal by Gary Wunderlich from 24-yards out. The defense would be responsible for the first touchdown of the afternoon when Derrick Jones stepped in front of a pass from freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and returned it down the left sideline for a 52-yard pick-six and a 10-0 lead. The Ole Miss offense would get in gear the next time they held the football by driving 84 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown. D’Vaughn Pennamon picked up the goal-line touchdown to cap a drive highlighted by a 37-yard pass from Chad Kelly to Evan Engram from the Ole Miss 42-yard line.

Kelly would step away form a defender and unload a 55-yard touchdown pass to DaMarkus Lodge in the second quarter to extend the lead to 24-0. The lead was pushed to 31-0 when Kelly connected with Engram inside the 10-yard line late in the first half. Kelly has completed 13-of-17 pass attempts for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Eason has completed just seven of 21 attempts for 64 yards. It hasn’t helped that Georgia receivers have had a knack for dropping passes that would help bail Eason out at times, especially in the second quarter.

Georgia has converted just one third down out of 10 (although they have gone two-for-three on fourth down). Ole Miss has out-gained Georgia 323-186. If you think Georgia has Ole Miss right where they want them based on prior results this season, keep in mind that both Florida State and Alabama managed to snatch the momentum right before halftime against Ole Miss. That did not happen this afternoon for the Georgia, who is well on its way to the firts loss under heard coach Kirby Smart.

No. 4 Florida State goes on 33-0 run to take down No. 11 Ole Miss

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Orlando, Florida may be home to the happiest place on Earth, but No. 11 Ole Miss (0-1) is leaving town with nothing but disappointment. The Rebels blew a 22-point lead against No. 4 Florida State (1-0) in the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando. The Seminoles ripped off 33 straight points on their way to a 45-34 victory. It was the largest come-form-behind victory in Florida State history.

Freshman quarterback Deondre Francois went through some growing pains in his first start for Florida State at quarterback, but gained some confidence in leading a late touchdown drive in the first half and came out looking like a brand new player in the second. Francois passed for 420 yards and two touchdowns without an interception or a fumble (one fumble by Francois was overruled upon video review). He looked like a freshman starting his first game in the first half, because he was a freshman starting his first game in the first half. And he was going up against a solid Ole Miss defense, which crumbled in the second half as Florida State gobbled up a decisive edge in the time of possession department.

Ole Miss did have success running an up-tempo offense against Florida State early on, which played a part in building a 28-6 lead in the first half, but the wear and tear on the defense showed in the second half as Florida State looked like the fresher of the two teams. The Rebels saw Chad Kelly look confident and living up to the hype of being the best quarterback in the SEC with three touchdowns in the first half, but he also cooled off in the second half and was picked off three times in the game, the last coming with under three minutes remaining in the game to essentially put to rest any hope of a win for Ole Miss.

THREE QUICK THOUGHTS

1. You cannot turn the ball over against Florida State and expect to win. Ole Miss did so three times, with a trio of interceptions thrown by Kelly among them. Florida State is not going to dig holes too often this season the way they did Monday night, and there are only a small handful of offenses that will be able to hang with Florida State and have the potential to overcome a deficit in the turnover margin (Clemson, Louisville… Miami?).

2. One observation to take from Sunday night’s Texas-Notre Dame game is the Longhorns could be turning a corner but must still learn how to finish a game. Texas had a 17-point lead midway through the third quarter before seeing Notre Dame battle back and eventually get the game to overtime. Texas escaped with the win, but it was a lesson that could be learned in Austin. The same experience must be earned in Oxford. Ole Miss was in command of the game shortly before halftime, when Florida State scored a late touchdown to gain some momentum at the break. The Seminoles then went on a tear with a 24-0 run in the third quarter and a 33-0 run overall before the Rebels got back on the board, going from up 28-6 to down 39-34. Perhaps this can be an assessment of the coaching. Jimbo Fisher held a decisive edge while Hugh Freeze will have some questions that need answers.

3. Dalvin Cook turned in a fine effort, even if he did have the bonehead play of the game. Cook was mere yards away from reaching the end zone in the second quarter on a pass play but for some reason switched the position of the ball in his hands before he crossed the goal line, uncontested. The ball dribbled loose out of bounds and instead of a touchdown, Florida State was reduced to settling for a field goal. All was forgiven later, as Cook ended his night with 192 all-purpose yards, including 101 receiving yards.

Florida State opens its home schedule next week against Charleston Southern. The Buccaneers gave North Dakota State a solid test in the FCS opener two weekends ago and demolished Kentucky State at home this past weekend. As good as they may be in the FCS ranks (and they are really good), Florida State should manage to avoid any real threat of a massive upset in Tallahassee. Ole Miss also gets an FCS opponent next weekend at home when they host Wofford. Wofford opened its season with a 21-7 road victory at Tennessee Tech on Thursday night. After getting by Wofford, Ole Miss has two pivotal game sin SEC play at home against Alabama and Georgia. Then comes a revenge game against Memphis. Memphis upset the Rebels last season.

Chad Kelly tosses 3 TDs in first half as Ole Miss is powering by FSU

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Maybe Florida State spent a little too much time listening to Jimbo Fisher give his pregame speech. Or maybe they didn’t listen enough. Whatever the case, No. 4 Florida State has a lot to work on if they want to climb back and make a game of this with No. 11 Ole Miss in Orlando. The Rebels jumped out to a 21-3 lead on the Seminoles, and hold a 28-13 lead at the half.

First, let’s give Ole Miss the credit it deserves, because oh my did they ever come to play a good game tonight in Orlando. Despite losing starting defensive back Ken Webster to an awful leg injury early in the game, the defense has been swarming. On offense, Chad Kelly has been locked in with three touchdown passes and over 200 passing yards in the half. Kelly has also gotten involved with his legs and leads the Rebels on the ground after one half. Kelly has managed to get everybody involved by spreading the ball to six different receivers in the first half. Akeem Judd has the only rushing touchdown of the game so far.

Florida State’s offense has been silenced by the defense of Ole Miss. Dalvin Cook, arguably the top running back in the nation heading into the 2016 season, has been held to just 16 rushing yards on 10 rushing attempts. Ole Miss has focused on him and taken him out of the running game, which should have been a strength for the Seminoles. The offense also looks as though it is being run by a freshman, because, well, it is. Deondre Francois, a four-star dual-threat quarterback out of IMG Academy in the Class of 2015, has had some quick growing pains but has hung in there at times. They can’t all be like Jameis Winston right from the start, not even at Florida State. Francois did lead the offense down the field for a late touchdown just before halftime, and he took a hit in the process. Given the situation on the field, a late touchdown could be the momentum shift Florida State needed.

Earlier, just when it looked as though Florida State was finally going to reach the end zone for the first time, down 21-3, Heisman hopeful Cook inexplicably fumbled the football out of bounds. Florida State maintained possession and was kept out of the end zone by Ole Miss defense. They settled for a short field goal instead.

Kaelin Clay, who dropped a football before crossing the goal line for Utah against Oregon two years ago, chimed in with his commentary following that play.

You play four quarters of football for a reason. If Florida State is going to get back in this thing, the offense has to start making something, anything, happen. Ole Miss needs to keep the pedal to the metal and find a way to close this one out.

Ole Miss strikes quickly, loses DB Ken Webster to gruesome leg injury

AP Photo/Thomas Graning
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In the final giant matchup of the greatest opening weekend in college football history, Ole Miss struck first with a quick touchdown drive led by quarterback Chad Kelly, but the major development in the first few minutes of the Camping World Kickoff in Orlando is the awful leg injury suffered by Ole Miss defensive back Ken Webster.

I’ll do you the courtesy of skipping any Vines or GIFs or any other visual of the injury. Let’s just say, his left leg is not supposed to bend that way. ESPN aired the replay of the injury once, and that was more than enough for most of the viewing audience. ESPN went to commercial as Webster was attended to on the field and when they came back from commercial there was a shot of Webster in agony and emotional disbelief that reminds you just how human these star athletes can be. At the same time, he was being carted off and dealing with the reality of the injury, Webster maintained his veteran role on the Ole Miss defense and yelled instructions or motivation to his teammates about to resume playing.

We’ll wait for more information on the injury, but it is very safe assumption to suggest he is going to be missing some considerable playing time as a result.

Ole Miss moved quickly down the field on the opening possession of the game, driving 75 yards on six plays. The key plays were a 36-yard pass from Kelly to Evan Engram, which was followed a few plays later by a penalty on Florida State’s Derwin James for unnecessary roughness, a late hit on Van Jefferson following a three-yard loss on a pass play that took the receiver to his knee. Kelly completed a short touchdown pass to Damore'ea Stringfellow to cap the touchdown drive.

Ole Miss is leading Florida State, 7-0, midway through the first quarter.