Since stepping onto the Ole Miss campus last winter, junior quarterback Chad Kelly has made huge improvements in many of areas. On the field, he’s been the leader of the offense that keeps the ball moving through the air, and it’s a big reason why the Rebels are still in good shape to win the SEC West. There have been some inconsistencies at times, though, something on which Kelly would like to improve.
Kelly threw for 20 touchdowns and 2856 yards this season, and leads the SEC in both categories, but his 12 interceptions is something he’d like to cut down on.
“I’ve just got to keep getting better,” Kelly said. “It’ll keep on coming but it all starts in practice.”
Kelly doesn’t take turning the ball over lightly and uses the situation as a chance to learn and to improve.
“They’re correctable mistakes, and usually right after you throw it you see what the next read should have been,” Kelly said. “You look right after, and realize ‘Hey, I probably should have thrown it to that guy’.”
A few of his interceptions haven’t been his fault. A couple of them have come on tipped balls or balls that should have been caught, but Kelly takes responsibility for them and knows how to avoid them going forward.
“You’ve got to know what the defense is doing, first of all, in order to make the correct read,” Kelly said.
With some of the deep routes covered, utilizing the underneath and check-down routes can be crucial to having a more complete passing game. Kelly wants to make sure he uses those routes more to move the chains.
“It’s not thinking where your check downs are, but knowing exactly where the they are going to be,” Kelly said. “You have to know exactly where your outlets are at all times.”
Like any successful quarterback, Kelly doesn’t dwell on them too long and his level focus has helped him lead the conferences most potent offense this year.
“You’ve got to stay level and focused. You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low,” Kelly said. “Just have confidence in the guys around you that they are going to make plays, and just keep feeding them the ball.”
Some say all great quarterbacks have a short memory, and Kelly, who is the most fourth most efficient passer in the SEC with a rating of 151.3 will try and do the same with Arkansas, LSU and Mississippi State left on the schedule.
“Interceptions happen. Sometimes you try to force somethings or you misread something,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to make sure you forget about that last play, and come back and make a better play.”
That may be what Kelly has done best this year; every time he’s made a mistake, it seems like he’s responded with a a big play.
“It’s understanding that you don’t have to force everything,” Kelly said. “You have playmakers around you, just get them the ball and let them do what they’re taught to do.”