Offensive coordinator Dan Werner last night repeated what Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said regarding starting quarterback – at least for this week – Chad Kelly.
Freeze told us Monday that Kelly charted very well. Every throw is recorded, and Kelly was slightly ahead, it seemed, in just about every category.
“Those are the things we look at, two of the big ones, obviously, scoring touchdowns and protecting the ball. We studied everything. It was accuracy, run game stats, when he’s making good decisions in the run game, to obviously the drives, the touchdowns, the least interceptions. He just was a little bit ahead. It was so close it was tough to call. He was a little bit ahead so we decided to let him get the first snap and see how it goes, but we know that all three of them are going to play,” Werner said.
Werner shed no light on how the quarterbacks might divide snaps in Saturday’s season opener against Tennessee-Martin. The only part of the plan that’s been announced is that Kelly will go first.
Players have been well-coached it seems on how to respond to questions about the quarterbacks. Rarely does anyone offer anything that might indicate separation among the group.
“I have great chemistry with all the quarterbacks. They all get tons of work. Chad has been taking a lot of the first team reps. He looks great. So do the other quarterbacks. It was a close decision. Coach Freeze actually asked me about it, and I couldn’t help him on that. It’s just one of those … we had one of those camps where all the guys were competing and looked good,” wide receiver Laquon Treadwell said.
Wide receiver Damore’ea Stringfellow also has great chemistry with each quarterback.
“It’s not really a difference with the timing. They all throw the ball really well. You just don’t know. Chad’s been good. All of them have been handling their business like they’re supposed to, grinding, just like every other position on the team,” he said.
Right tackle Fahn Cooper did have high praise for how Kelly has handled the tempo offense.
“He’s handled it well. He helps push the tempo. He and the center are like two of the most important pieces in getting that tempo to run fast, getting hands on the ball, getting lined up, getting set up. He’s (Chad) always, ‘let’s go, let’s go, let’s go’ making the calls and getting everybody set up. He has a sense of urgency to him that helps us out a lot,” Cooper said.
Werner says the close quarterback competition is a good problem to have.
“It’s just been so close. It’s what I’ve been saying all camp long, which is a good thing. All three of them are playing well. I’m pleased with it, and we’ll see who plays the best in the game.”