It’s not every day that the Georgia Bulldogs surrender 45 points in a game. Then again, it’s not everyday the Bulldogs try to stop a quarterback quite like Chad Kelly.
The Rebels’ senior quarterback had a field day against the Bulldogs on Saturday, throwing for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns in what was a 45-14 loss for Georgia. The Bulldogs allowed Kelly to rack up 335 total yards and three total touchdowns in a game that saw Georgia give up 45 for the first time since 2011.
A lot of that came from Kelly’s ability to make things happen. Whether it was Kelly beating the Bulldogs’ defensive backs on a deep throw or gashing the defenders at the line with his quick feet, the nephew of NFL Hall of Famer Jim Kelly constantly made Georgia pay for testing him.
“Chad came out and did his thing,” safety Dominick Sanders said. “He played his butt off. I knew as a quarterback, he was a guy that can throw the ball and could run. He's a tough dude.”
The latest effort was another example of Kelly making plays while Kirby Smart stood on the opposing sideline. With the 43-37 victory over Alabama last year and Saturday’s showing, Kelly has accumulated 697 total yards and seven touchdowns versus a Smart-coached team.
Smart’s praise of Kelly leading up to the game proved to not just be coach speak, because Kelly simply made big plays happen again and again.
“I thought their quarterback did really well,” Smart said. “He had some big plays, hit some big throws. We didn't make some plays early and it snowballed from there.”
Kelly’s playmaking ability was encapsulated with a single play in the third quarter of the game. With the Rebels already up 38-0, Kelly caught a blitzing Bulldog napping on a read option, which gave him the separation he was seeking. He took off on a 41-yard touchdown run that put Ole Miss up 45-0.
It was also a clear example of how Georgia was not up to the task of keeping Kelly contained.
“It's not easy at all,” cornerback Juwuan Briscoe said about facing a quarterback who can run. “We've got to play harder than they do. That's all it is.”
Kelly’s ability to torch Georgia on the ground and through the air was also a product of Ole Miss’ offense. The Rebels are known to utilize run-pass options, which are plays in which the quarterback can decide as the play develops whether to hand the ball off or throw downfield. If a team has someone behind center who can run those plays well, it can lead to long days for opposing defenses.
Kelly showed Georgia on Saturday he’s certainly one of those quarterbacks.
“A lot of plays, our defensive line has to play the run,” Smart said. “You can't pass rush on a running play. It's frustrating. They've got running plays built into passing plays. You call the right defense for a running play, and he throws the ball to the perimeter.”
The Bulldogs’ defense proved itself to be vulnerable through the first three games this season, but Saturday it saw its worst results by far. Those weren’t necessarily a product of it playing its worst game as far as coverages and tackling; it was more of someone finally making the Bulldogs pay for their mistakes.
“I'll be honest with you, that's been some of the fear from the first games. There were some big plays there against North Carolina that they didn't hit,” Smart said. “They hit those today.”