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Chad Kelly has been lethal with the deep ball this season

We charted every one of SWAG’s passes from the FSU, Bama and Georgia games. He’s bombing it out even more than last season.

Florida State v Mississippi
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

After a 2015 season in which first-year starter Chad Kelly only had the third-most single-season total yards and passing yards in Southeastern Conference history*, he’s making another effort to fill the record books with the SWAG brand. Through five games, Kelly is on pace to throw for 4,150 yards, which would surpass last year’s total of 4,042 and give him the second-most passing passing yards in a single season in the SEC’s history.

*But please, give me your #taeks on how he needs to control his emotions.

He’s also on pace to throw for 34 touchdowns (he threw 31 in 2015) and his completion percentage and quarterback rating are ahead of last season. Although he’s behind his 2015 rushing and total yards pace, I attribute some of that to not having played the SoCon defenses of LSU, Arkansas, and Mississippi State, where he piled up 265 of his 500 rushing yards last season.

To further explore the space of Kelly’s 2016 SWAG unlocking, let’s take a look at his pass charts from the Florida State, Alabama, and Georgia games. I didn’t chart Kelly’s passes from the Wofford and Memphis games because Wofford is Wofford and no hero has uploaded the Memphis game to YouTube (BE BETTER, INTERNET).

Those of you in the archive business may recall we did something similar last year during the bye week, so we shall see if anything has changed with Kelly, even though this is a smaller sample size.

The Florida State game

For reference, the circles mark where passes were caught, not where the receiver was tackled. So a pass completed five yards from the line of scrimmage could've turned into a 15-yard gain.

The first thing I noticed was the lack of passes behind the line of scrimmage. Ole Miss threw a ton of those passes last year, but out of the gate, we see only a handful of attempts (one was a pass batted down at the line).

My best #analysis is that it’s probably related to some combination of 1) Laquon Treadwell not being out there to block for or catch those passes, 2) more confidence that all of the receivers are capable of winning their matchups down the field, and 3) Ole Miss not being good at blocking for these plays.

I’ve talked before about how Kelly’s insistence on forcing the ball downfield instead of taking underneath routes cost Ole Miss in that loss.

Here’s your official numbers breakdown:

  • Behind LOS: 2/4, -7 yards
  • 0-10: 10/12, 81 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
  • 11-20: 5/11, 109 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • 21-30: 3/9, 87 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • 31-40: 1/3, 42 yards

The Alabama game

The Alabama pass rush and a more patient game plan brought everything closer to the line of scrimmage, though Kelly was able to hit some deep balls against one-on-one coverage (or in the case of Evan Engram’s touchdown, no one coverage).

  • Behind LOS: 4/6, 13 yards
  • 0-10: 12/20, 99 yards, 1 TD
  • 11-20: 4/5, 67 yards
  • 21-30: 1/2, 22 yards
  • 31-40: 3/5, 132 yards, 2 TD
  • 41+: 2/2, 88 yards

If you’re adding these numbers to your ledgers, Kelly was 5-of-7 for 220 yards and two touchdowns on passes over 30 yards. ARE WE OKAY WITH THAT?

The Georgia game

When Ole Miss has a 45-0 lead with 8:34 to play in the third quarter (THE THIRD QUARTER, I SAY*), Kelly’s activity will be reduced drastically. As you can see though, what little activity he did have was quite successful.

  • Behind LOS: 5/5, 26 yards
  • 0-10: 5/6, 61 yards
  • 11-20: 6/9, 114 yards, 1 TD
  • 21-30: 1/1, 26 yards
  • 31-40: 0/2
  • 41+: 1/1, 55 yards, 1 TD

*Again, Ole Miss scored 45 points in 36 minutes and 26 seconds against an SEC team.

Let’s total the numbers from all three games

  • Behind LOS: 11/15 (73.3%), 32 yards
  • 0-10: 27/38 (71%), 241 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
  • 11-20: 15/25 (60%), 290 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT
  • 21-30: 5/12 (41.7%), 135 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • 31-40: 4/10 (40%), 174 yards, 2 TD
  • 41+: 3/3 (100%), 143 yards, 1 TD

I think I speak for all of us when I say THROW THE DANG BALL OVER 40 YARDS CAUSE IT WORKS EVERY DANG TIME.

When you add everything up, Kelly’s total passing stats against Florida State, Alabama, and Georgia come out to 65-of-103 (63 percent) for 1,015 yards, nine touchdowns, and three interceptions.


Now lets compare those numbers to last season

Earlier, I mentioned the reduction in passes behind the line of scrimmage as compared to last year. Again, smaller sample size, but take a look at the percentage of throws in the various yardage ranges from 2015 and 2016.


  • Behind LOS: 23.6%
  • 0-10: 44.7%
  • 10-20: 19.4%
  • 20-30: 9.7%
  • 30-40: 2.1%
  • 40+: 2.1%


  • Behind LOS: 14.6%
  • 0-10: 36.9%
  • 11-20: 24.2%
  • 21-30: 11.7%
  • 31-40: 9.7%
  • 41+: 2.9%

Now, ignoring that I screwed up the yardage distances last year (how can the same number be in two categories, idiot), there’s a pretty big drop in passes behind the line of scrimmage and in the 0-10 yards range. That may have something to do with the ridiculously deep crew of massive receivers at his disposal. The 2016 version of Chad Kelly is being allowed to push the ball more, which could help an offense that was pretty good last season achieve lethal status this season.