It’s been four days since Ole Miss jackknifed across five lanes of traffic in Orlando and plunged into a sewage treatment plant, causing an environmental crisis never seen in these lower 48 states. The situation is not without hope, however. Personally, I went through the five stages of grief over two days and currently sit at Stage 25, which is GONNA HANG HALF A HUNDRED ON EVERYONE ELSE.
Indeed, there were some positive takeaways from Ole Miss’ 45-34 loss to Florida State. The Rebs led what is arguably one of the top two teams in the country by 22 points, and, despite absorbing a series of second-half haymakers, were one Chad Kelly overthrow away from being within two in the fourth quarter.
That overthrow was one of several critical mistakes by Kelly, who threw three picks and coughed up a fumble. While he had plenty of outstanding moments on Monday, and we would be dead without him, there are areas that need improvement. It’s unfair to SWAG, but if the defense is going to struggle for stretches (and OH WILL THEY), his margin for error is now pretty close to zero.
So let’s take a look at some instances in which Kelly either made a poor choice or didn’t consider all of his options (all screenshots via right here).
The first interception
We start in the first quarter. Ole Miss leads 7-0 and just got the ball back after Florida State punted on its first possession. After Kelly picks up a first down on a scramble, they go fast, and send out five eligible receivers.
Of the five, three are covered.
Two receivers are either wide open or about to break open. Unfortunately, Chad only has eyes for one of them.
In Chad’s defense, he has the arm to make every throw, but that doesn’t mean he needs to try when there’s a much easier option, especially at a time when the offense was really clicking.
He wants to hit Adeboyejo from the start of the play and never takes a peek at the rest of the field.
The crazy part is a good throw, and one he is capable of making, would help him get away with his aggressive choice. ALAS.
FUN FACT: I was ready to free fall from the upper deck of the stadium after that throw. ANYHOW, we move into the second quarter.
Trying to turn back the clock to last year’s LSU game
Ole Miss leads 14-3 and is driving. The Rebels attempt to run the same play they ran against LSU, which resulted in an Evan Engram touchdown.
Unfortunately for Ole Miss, Florida State watched film and recognized the attempt at tomfoolery right away.
The thing about this play is we don’t know whether Chad was given the option to look at other receivers in the pattern. If he was, it would’ve been nice to take a look over the middle. If he was not, YET ANOTHER THING TO FIX.
Godspeed, Evan Engram’s ability to breathe.
Mercifully for Ole Miss, that play didn’t kill the drive because on the next play, THEY GOT RIGHT BACK UP IN FLORIDA STATE’S KITCHEN.
Missing an open man... but finding a TD anyway
Again, we don’t know what the instructions are, but either Chad knew pre-snap Engram was about to torch them, or he’s supposed to stay with Engram until he’s not an option anymore.
The problem with those options is that he deprives himself of quickly recognizing what would’ve been the easiest touchdown throw of his life.
It worked out fine because he made a great throw to Engram, who had FSU defenders near him, but Chad could’ve thrown a Brandon Harris-like pass to Van Jefferson and he would’ve scored easily.
Now we move deeper into the second quarter, following a Florida State field goal.
Another receiver open underneath
Though Judd is not within Kelly’s first three options here, he will become very important because of a breakdown in Florida State’s coverage. As soon as Judd starts moving, we can identify the linebacker assigned to cover him, but because Judd is running away from that linebacker, the responsibility jumps to another linebacker.
But the linebacker who inherits Judd turns and runs with Evan Engram, who is releasing over the middle and covered by the initial Judd linebacker and a safety. As soon as Chad saw that, he should’ve known Judd would be a great option.
But his next read shifts to Quincy Adeboyejo, who is facing solo coverage on the outside.
Chad elects to throw a ball up for Adeboyejo, who is trying to work back to the ball. To show you how much space Judd had, the nearest Florida State defender outside the hashmarks is Adeboyejo’s defender.
Chad took a shot, and not a terrible shot, but there was a much easier option right in front of him. Fortunately for Ole Miss, they stuffed the rest of that drive in Florida State’s face and went up 28-6.
AND NOW WE ARRIVE AT THE AGONY. Third quarter, the world is collapsing around Ole Miss, and somehow it collapses even more. After an Akeem Judd run of one yard, and he leaves due to an injury, the Rebels march on.
Rushing four, no big deal. The Ole Miss offensive line handled it well for 30 minutes, why would things change? Well, I don’t know, but Rod Taylor whiffs on his block and things go to hell immediately.
At this point, Chad has to know he has roughly .5 seconds to get the ball out or he’s going down. And because of that limited timeframe, he’s looking at a hot throw to Adeboyejo or Engram, or taking a sack. There should be no doubt in his mind about that.
I don’t know what he saw or didn’t see, but he missed his window for a quick throw. The Florida State defense has won the play, which is fine, Chad just can’t make it worse.
Embrace the third and long, we’ll be oka- oh no