Kelly was clearly was fired up before kickoff in the way he was jumping around and slapping every player's helmet in sight. He had five tackles, a season high.
"He's a head hunter and we needed a head hunter at safety," said defensive coordinator Dave Wommack, who replaced Lerinezo Robinson with Kelly at free safety this week. "Randy was back there hitting some folks. I think he brings some real emotion and real enthusiasm to them because he's a real big hitter."
It was the second career start for Kelly, a junior college transfer with two years of eligibility remaining after this season.
"He was excited about starting and playing," said defensive backs coach Bobby Allen, who predicted a shutout earlier in the week. "We've been talking hard about trying to be physical and he did a good job of moving people around and showing us what he could do.
"I'm anxious to watch the film and see some of those hits again and see him play."
Kelly's intensity helped ignite a defense which entered Saturday at No. 10 in the Southeastern Conference and No. 79 in the nation. After allowing nearly 500 yards per game during a four-game losing streak, the Razorbacks limited Ole Miss to 343 yards and kept a team out of the end zone for the first time this season.
"When somebody gets a big hit, it just gets you going," said linebacker Sam Olajubutu. "It gets you playing with a little more adrenaline pumping and the crowd gets into it. A big hit, it just opens up the game for you.
"After a few plays, everybody was out there trying to get a big hit."
Kelly said he simply wanted to make the most of his second opportunity as a starter.
"Sometimes, second chances don't come to easily so I just wanted to play hard and do my part to help my team," Kelly said. "I just wanted to unload on some people (Saturday) and let them know that Randy Kelley is going to make a name for himself as a hitter.
"But it was team effort because we came in focused with the right attitude. We weren't going to let these guys beat us."
The Hogs came a field goal away from shutting out a team for the first time since 2002. They shutout both Louisiana-Monroe and Alabama in the second half of games in September.
The field goal concluded the first half and came at the end of a 64-yard drive.
With 1 minute, 12 seconds remaining in the half, the Hogs lined up in a prevent defense which allowed the Rebels to move the ball down field with short passes underneath the coverage.
"In the first half, we maybe played as well defensively as we have all season," Wommack said.
Late in the third quarter, the Hogs put together an impressive defensive stand after giving up a 50-yard run to Ole Miss quarterback Robert Lane (there were two missed tackles during the run) which moved the ball to the Arkansas 29.
"We've worked on that play quite a bit so we had him where we wanted him," Wommack said. "But we missed some tackles and as you know that's been a problem for us.
"I think it was better (Saturday), but we've still got some work to do there."
On the ensuing play, defensive end Fred Bledsoe stuffed tailback Vashon Pearson for a one-yard loss. Then, Jackson sacked Lane for a four-yard loss which pushed the Rebels out of field goal range.
Lane was sandwiched between Pierre Brown and Kevin Woods at the line of scrimmage on third down, forcing the Rebels to go for it on fourth down instead of attempting a field goal.
But Hogs cornerback Darius Vinnett perfectly played a pass intended for Kerry Johnson to bat down the ball and force a turnover on downs.
"After losing four straight and with Ole Miss coming in, we knew we had to do it," Vinnett said. "For us to hold them to no points except a field goal, it's a huge confidence builder heading into next week (when the Hogs play at Mississippi State)."
Hogs Get Physical Behind Kelly's Play
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