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Rebels Win The Game but Lose Much More – Ole Miss/Georgia Southern Analysis

Chad Kelly in game against Georgia Southern Photo by Joshua McCoy courtesy Ole Miss Athletics
Chad Kelly in game against Georgia Southern Photo by Joshua McCoy courtesy Ole Miss Athletics

Ole Miss may have won the game to snap a three-game losing streak, but lost much more in the process. Senior QB Chad Kelly is out for the remainder of the season after suffering a torn ACL in the 3rd quarter of the Rebels’ victory over Georgia Southern. In addition to Kelly’s injury, Chucky Mullins award winner, DE John Youngblood, is also out for the season with an ankle injury.

In front of a unenthused crowd, the Rebels got off to a very slow start, which is uncharacteristic of the Rebels this season. The Rebels trailed the Eagles 21-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter but quickly rallied to take a 31-21 lead going into the half. In the second half, the Rebels were held to just two Gary Wunderlich field goals on their way to a 37-27 victory.

Much has been said about the Ole Miss defense up to this point of the season, and while the Rebels shut down the passing attack of the Eagles, the run defense continued to struggle. The Eagles were able to rip off long runs throughout the game, and toiled 267 yards on the ground. The defense was able to keep the Eagles out of the end zone in the second half, which Freeze credited to stop all facets of the Eagle offense and keying on the option attack less.

“We over-reared for option really, and at halftime, we just said let’s play our base stuff and stop the inside zone, which they were hurting us with. We started playing more physical in the second half and saying that we were not going to just play for the option,” Freeze said.

Kelly was replaced by sophomore Jason Pellerin after the injury occurred, and the offense never got going. Being fair, there was no way to foresee the events of Saturday’s game, and outside of a few plays drawn up for Pellerin, a proper game plan couldn’t have been implemented in-game. Pellerin’s role has been small this season, being used in short yardage and red-zone situations, but now will most likely be thrown into the fire with three remaining SEC match-ups to finish out the season without Kelly. With no SEC title hopes on the line, Shea Patterson’s redshirt will most likely not be pulled for the Rebels three remaining contests. When asked about what he’ll do at QB, Freeze may look to a reliable back-up to shake off the rust and suit up for the Rebels.

“I may go see if Ryan Buchanan wants to dress this week, in all seriousness,” Freeze said and responded to a reporter’s question of whether or not he was joking with “I’m dead serious, and I hope Ryan heard that.”

The Rebels were able to walk out of the game with a victory, but the early struggles and the injuries now leave the Rebels with more questions than answers. The Rebels must look for answers quickly or find themselves sitting at home, rather than preparing for a bowl game when its all said and done. The Rebels travel to a hostel environment in College Station to face the Aggies this Saturday. While the Aggies have injury problems of their own with Trevor Knight going down in A&M’s upset loss to Mississippi State, the Aggies will be looking to come back strong against the Rebels. A matchup with Vanderbilt in Nashville becomes much more difficult without Chad Kelly, the SEC leader in total yards. With potential bowl-eligibility on the line for both teams, the Egg Bowl closes out the season. Kelly’s injury will test Freeze and the Rebels with three games remaining in ways they have yet to be tested in this difficult season.

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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