Kelly debuts when No. 17 Ole Miss hosts UT Martin
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze insists he's not particularly worried about his program's quarterback situation.
If it's true, that would certainly make him in the minority around Oxford.
Junior transfer Chad Kelly will get his first career start on Saturday when No. 17 Ole Miss hosts UT Martin in Oxford. He beat out sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade for the job, though Freeze has said repeatedly the competition was very close and he doesn't want the depth chart ''set in stone.''
He expects all three to play at least some against the Skyhawks.
''I'm really not that stressed about it,'' Freeze said. ''I like all three. It is definitely a different feeling than there has been in the last few years.''
Kelly replaces three-year starter Bo Wallace, who finished his career as one of the most productive quarterbacks in Ole Miss history.
Kelly has taken a long, strange road to Ole Miss. The Buffalo, New York, native originally signed with Clemson but was dismissed from the team following an argument with coaches during the spring game in 2014. He transferred to East Mississippi Community College for his sophomore year, where he led the program to a national title.
Now he's in Oxford.
Kelly should have plenty of help around him. Nearly the entire offensive line returns, including junior left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Receiver Laquon Treadwell is back after suffering a broken leg last season and figures to be the Rebels' top option in the passing game.
Some things to watch when No. 17 Ole Miss hosts UT Martin on Saturday:
ALL EYES ON THE QBs: Junior transfer Chad Kelly - the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer and Buffalo Bills QB Jim Kelly - makes his debut as the starter on Saturday. He won the job over starters Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade. Coach Hugh Freeze says he expects all three quarterbacks to play against UT Martin on Saturday.
RUNNING GAME: Ole Miss did a lot of things well last season, but one constant struggle was the running game, which ranked among the worst in the Southeastern Conference last season. The Rebels hope for better results this season thanks to an experienced offensive line and senior running back Jaylen Walton.
TREADWELL'S RETURN: Receiver Laquon Treadwell is expected back on the field 10 months after suffering a gruesome broken leg against Auburn on a crucial play that ended up changing the Rebels' season for the worse. The 6-foot-2 Treadwell was the leading receiver for Ole Miss last season and more of the same is expected this fall.
LEADING DEFENSE: The Rebels gave up just 16 points per game last season, which was the best mark in the SEC. Several starters return for what they hope is an encore performance, including defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and safety Tony Conner.
LONG SHOT: UT Martin doesn't have much of a chance to win on Saturday, but that being said, there's always a chance. The Skyhawks have one win against an FBS opponent, beating Memphis in 2012. Ole Miss has lost just once to an FCS team - a wild 49-48 double overtime setback to Jacksonville State in 2010 that started the beginning of the end of coach Houston Nutt's tenure in Oxford.
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