Winner of the Main Event: Chad Kelly
Scouts, coaches, and fans all were left Saturday’s game feeling the same way they almost always do following a Chad Kelly performance; indifferent. There won’t be a lot of other QBs, probably 0, of other QBs that will put up 421 yards and 3 touchdowns against an Alabama defense which seems to be top of the class year in and year out. Much less flattering, however, are the 2 turnovers that Alabama forced upon Kelly directly costing his team 14 points.
The Rebels shocked the country last year beating Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide giving Alabama their only blemish on a championship season. This year’s rematch felt a little more like Kelly vs the world than it did last year as Ole Miss graduated Kelly’s best target (Treadwell) and best lineman (Tunsil) to the first round of the NFL draft last spring.
Chad has all of the arm talent, the size, the athleticism, and the toughness that teams look for in a blue chip prospect at QB. Like last year, Kelly put all of these positive traits on display against Alabama Saturday.
There isn’t a throw on the field that Kelly can’t make. He looks comfortable in the screen and slant game. His timing seems to most often be in tune with his receivers and his ball placement is where it needs to be for maximum run after the catch potential. A lot of young QBs struggle with the intermediate game but Kelly has a track record of being able to move the chain on some of those tough 8-12 yard throws with his strong arm. Like his uncle Jim, Chad throws as good and accurate of a deep ball as any of his peers keeping secondaries on the backpedal.
Like every year, Alabama has NFL talent at all 3 levels of their defense. They are deep and well coached. They have great athletes allowing them to play a multiple front taking advantage of mismatches.
Some of the concerns NFL teams will certainly have for Kelly is his tendency to be inconsistent with his feet, field presence, and ball security. While Kelly put up points, moved the ball down the field with big plays, showed his ability to improvise, put his shoulder down and get a tough yard when needed, he was unable to make those scouts feel any better about the concerns they had going into the game. Another knock on Kelly, that he won’t be able to prove critics wrong until next year, is that he does not play in a pro-style offense.
The good, the bad, and the ugly was again all on display for Chad. While Alabama did enough to fluster Kelly with an intense pass rush forcing the 2 turnovers and eventually win the game, the nod goes to Kelly in a close decision. Anytime a QB plays an Alabama team with that much NFL talent and keeps his team in the game has to go down as a personal win. If Chad can clean up his game over the rest of the season he will solidify his claims of being drafted early in Philadelphia this spring.
#10 Chad Kelly, Ole Miss, QB
Alabama’s NFL talent filled and pro-style defense
# Malik McDowell, Michigan ST, Interior DL
#56 Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame, LG
# 77 Roderick Johnson, Florida State, LT
#92 Devonte Fields, Louisville, OLB