clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Without Chad Kelly, Ole Miss is in real danger of missing a bowl game

The Rebels need to win two of their final three, and they’ll have to do it without the SEC’s best quarterback.

UT Martin v Mississippi Photo by Butch Dill/Getty Images

Chad Kelly, whose college career ended with the news that he’ll undergo season-ending knee surgery, will leave Ole Miss as the most prolific and efficient passer in program history. No Rebel quarterback—not Archie, not Eli, not Dr. Bo—ever threw for more yards or touchdowns in a single season than Kelly did in 2015-16. His career 8.6 yards per attempt rank first among all Rebel passers with at least 140 attempts and he’s the only Ole Miss QB to rush for more than 800 career yards while averaging over 4.0 yards per attempt.

But assigning Kelly’s place in Rebel lore is something that can wait until after the season. For now, Hugh Freeze’s 4-5 bunch has to figure out how the hell to get bowl eligible without the guy who’s accounted for 74 percent of its offensive yardage this season. The Rebels close the year with games against Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and will have to win at least two of those to keep playing.

Their ability to do so will likely be determined by the decision on Kelly’s replacement—either run-first Jason Pellerin or highly-touted but inexperienced true freshman Shea Patterson—something we might not know until game time on Saturday. In the meantime, lets take a look at the Rebels’ remaining games and why they can win or lose each of them.

Texas A&M

Why Ole Miss can win.

Well, if Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald can do it, anyone can. And the Aggies might be down a starting quarterback of their own: Trevor Knight left the State game with a shoulder injury and his status for this Saturday is up in the air.

Why Ole Miss can lose.

Unlike the Rebels, A&M has a run game it can lean on if its starting QB sits out. The Aggies rank 19th nationally in rushing S&P+* and, even more alarming for an Ole Miss defense that’s been gauged by big gains on the ground, rank 20th in runs of 20 yards or more. Freshman Trayveon Williams’ 9.1 highlight yards per opportunity compares to Leonard Fournette’s 9.8, which could spell major trouble for a Rebel linebacking crew still in shambles.

*All S&P+ numbers in this post are from before Week 10 and will be updated once the new numbers are released.


Why Ole Miss can win.

A Swag-less Rebel offense might still be better than Derek Mason’s mess. The 17 points Vandy scored in its Week 8 win over Georgia is its highest point total of the season against a Power 5 defense. The ‘Dores rank 121st in offensive S&P+, 88th in offensive efficiency and 127th in offensive explosiveness.

Why Ole Miss can lose.

Even with that offensive ineptitude, Vandy’s average margin of SEC defeat is only 6 points. That’s because Mason’s defense is really good. Though the ‘Dores have let teams move the ball (72nd in defensive efficiency), a stout red zone defense has kept them in the nation’s top 25 in points allowed per game.

Mississippi State

Why Ole Miss can win.
Why Ole Miss can lose.

Not only did State did just beat a 7-1 A&M team, it did so by controlling the game with a pounding ground attack that piled up 365 yards. Sure, run defense is a weak spot for the Aggies, but it ain’t exactly a strength at Ole Miss. Nick Fitzgerald accounted for 182 of those rushing yards, which should concern a Rebel defense that’s been at its worst when trying to account for mobile quarterbacks.