Alabama football: Tide bracing for Chad Kelly and the rolling Ole Miss Rebels
After opening their football season in relative ease against Wisconsin and Middle Tennessee State, the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide will begin the Southeastern Conference portion of their schedule Saturday night against No. 15 Ole Miss inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Avenging last season's 23-17 setback in Oxford will be one source of motivation.
Holding the Rebels way, way, way under their season scoring average is another.
"Obviously when you're scoring 75 points a game, you've got a dynamic offense in a lot of ways," Alabama coach Nick Saban said in his Monday news conference. "They've got a lot of good players and a good scheme. They do a good job of executing, and they play fast.
"They lead the nation in a lot of categories when it comes to offense."
Alabama made life miserable for quarterback Bo Wallace and the Ole Miss offense in the 2012 and 2013 matchups, outscoring the Rebels by a combined 58-14. Last year brought about a measure of atonement for Wallace, but now the Crimson Tide are focusing on new Rebels quarterback Chad Kelly, the nephew of Jim Kelly who got to Ole Miss by way of Clemson and East Mississippi Community College.
Through the first two starts of his major college career, Kelly has completed 29 of 40 passes (72.5 percent) for 557 yards with six touchdowns and one interceptions. More importantly, he has led the Rebels to a 76-3 thrashing of Tennessee-Martin and a 73-21 drubbing of Fresno State.
"It's going to be a fun week," Kelly told reporters Monday. "This is where you make the money. This is where everything counts."
Kelly claims he started watching video on Alabama the first or second week he arrived in Oxford. He has viewed all 14 Crimson Tide games from last season and the first two this season.
Saban has studied last year's game between the two in addition to the past two weeks, when Kelly helped guide the Rebels to 634.5 yards per game.
"Conceptually, it's pretty much the same offense," Saban said. "They've always been a team that likes to do quarterback runs. He has run the ball a few times and is a very effective runner, but they don't use him for that as much as they did Bo Wallace a year ago.
"Throwing the ball and executing the offense, he has done a fantastic job."
Kelly was especially impressive last week against Fresno State, completing 20 of 25 passes for 346 yards and four touchdowns. The Rebels hung 28 first-quarter points on the Bulldogs after compiling 27 in the first 15 minutes against UT-Martin.
Ole Miss is the first SEC team to score 70 points in consecutive games since the 1994 Florida Gators, who thumped New Mexico State (70-21) and Kentucky (73-7).
"They make a lot of big plays, and they've made a lot of big plays in their first two games," Saban said. "I think it's really important that our guys understand that we cannot allow them to make big plays."
Nobody will confuse UT-Martin and Fresno State for Alabama, but Kelly believes there has been much to gain from the first two performances.
"I think it builds confidence with all of us," he said. "We understand how good we can be if we're all on the same page. We've had a great two weeks, and we have to keep the ball rolling."
This article was written by David Paschall from Chattanooga Times Free Press, Tenn. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.