Kelly ready for 2nd start as No. 17 Ole Miss hosts Fresno St
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) Chad Kelly's first game as Mississippi's starting quarterback was undeniably a success.
His reward: A second game as the starter.
Kelly will take the first snaps when No. 17 Ole Miss (1-0) hosts Fresno State (1-0) on Saturday, but coach Hugh Freeze is still hesitant to say the junior transfer has won the job over sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade.
Freeze said that's because he likes all three. Kelly understands why.
''As you saw, there was no dropoff when the other guys got in there,'' Kelly said.
Kelly completed 9 of 15 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns in last weekend's lopsided 76-3 win over UT Martin. He also ran for a 20-yard touchdown.
Buchanan was 4 of 6 passing for 58 yards and two touchdowns. Kincade was 6 of 7 for 55 yards and a touchdown.
But there's little doubt that Kelly is the overwhelming favorite to earn the full-time job. Freeze acknowledged the junior's confidence and ability to complete long passes with ease was impressive.
''It doesn't take his ball a long time to get there,'' Freeze said. ''He has a strong arm. I love explosive plays, and he has that ability to help us with that for sure. We'll see how that progression goes.''
Fresno State has a 19-game losing streak against teams ranked in the top 25. Fourth-year coach Tim DeRuyter said Ole Miss has ''talent, speed, skill and tenacity everywhere.''
DeRuyter said Kelly was impressive on film, especially considering it was his first start.
''There's a reason the guy was a four-star quarterback coming out of high school,'' DeRuyter said. ''You can see the pedigree.''
Things to watch when Ole Miss hosts Fresno State on Saturday:
THE QB SHUFFLE: Chad Kelly is expected to get his second start when No. 17 Ole Miss hosts Fresno State on Saturday. Kelly will likely receive the majority of the playing time though coach Hugh Freeze has said sophomores Ryan Buchanan and DeVante Kincade could also play. Said Freeze: ''I know this isn't probably the answer that everyone wants to hear, but I like all three right now. Chad certainly played well. He did seem comfortable, probably much more comfortable than I anticipated him being.''
THE TUNSIL SAGA: Ole Miss still hasn't said if starting left tackle Laremy Tunsil will play on Saturday because of an ongoing NCAA investigation. Tunsil missed the UT Martin game because of what Ole Miss called ''precautionary'' reasons. The 6-foot-5, 305-pound junior is one of the nation's elite offense linemen and someone the Rebels need this season - especially on Sept. 19 when they travel to face Alabama.
DOMINATING DEFENSE: The Ole Miss defense was among the nation's best last season, giving up just 16 points per game. If the first game is any indication, the Rebels will be very good on that side of the ball again. The defense allowed just one field goal in a 76-3 win over the Skyhawks. Trae Elston capped the performance with a 93-yard interception return for a touchdown.
A SHOWCASE FOR WALLER: Fresno State running back Marteze Waller is one of the most accomplished active running backs in the Football Bowl Subdivision, ranking seventh with 2,342 yards rushing. Waller had a good start to the season last weekend, running for 154 yards in a win over Abilene Christian.
STOPPING THE STREAK: Fresno State has lost 19 straight games to teams ranked in the top 25. The last victory was over No. 18 Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl. The Bulldogs came close to snapping the streak in the 2010, when they lost 35-34 to No. 21 Nevada which was led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
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