Rebels’ biggest players earned their reputations at Alabama

I mentioned during the Alabama game that Ole Miss was going to have to have great games from its best players to win.

Well, the Rebels’ biggest players turned out big.

Chad Kelly had 341 yards passing, 305 and three touchdowns in the second half after he admittedly started reacting more and thinking less.

It’s kind of hard to argue with Leonard Fournette as SEC offensive player of the week. He rushed for 228 yards and three touchdowns on 19 carries as LSU throttled struggling Auburn in Baton Rouge.

Kelly would have been just as good a choice given the stage and circumstances with just the third start of his career, the first on the road and first in that type of environment.

Robert Nkemdiche also showed out, and the Rebels’ All-American defensive tackle is finishing plays at a much higher rate than in his first two seasons.

His teammates are taking noice.

C.J. Johnson: “Oh he had a big game. We know he’s going to have a big game for us every game. It may not show in the stat sheet, but we know that he’s going to be a guy who’s going to do a lot for us. There were times last year you saw he wasn’t able to finish some plays or some plays he couldn’t get to. Now he’s just unbelievable.”

Trae Elston: “It’s amazing. He’s in his prime now in college. Last year I think he was still trying to learn the defense and he was still creating chaos. Now I think he’s learning the game and it’s slowed down for him. I think he knows when they’re going to double team or single block. Any time they blocked him one on one – he made the play just like that.”

Nkemdiche had six tackles, 2 1-2 tackles for loss and half a sack and is this week’s SEC defensive player of the week.

His older brother Denzel, the Rebels’ outside linebacker, was the game’s high tackler with 10. He also had 1 1-2 tackles for loss and teamed with his brother for a fourth-quarter sack.

It’s not the first time Denzel has played well at Alabama.

He was a redshirt freshman in 2012 when the Rebels traveld to face No. 1 Alabama, and the older Nkemidche finished with 11 tackles, five solo, three tackles for loss, a sack and two forced fumbles. He was named SEC co-defensive player of the week and eventually freshman All-America.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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  • bob

    Except Ole Miss’s player wasn’t playing Saturday night. he is still being held hostage.

    • bob

      should have read “Ole Miss’s best player”

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