Chad Kelly/USA TODAY images

Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly is focused only on right now, and that means Arkansas

It would be easy, even natural, for Chad Kelly to get caught up this week in the what-if of last season.

Ole Miss fell in overtime to Arkansas, a loss that keep the Rebels out of their first-ever SEC championship game. But with two losses so far in 2016, Kelly and his teammates aren't afforded the luxury of looking back. They still have aspirations of the College Football Playoff, but they have to win out.

“We have to focus on right now, this game,” Kelly said. “That’s the next game. If we want to still be in the playoff hunt and get to where we want to go, we gotta focus on playing this game.”

Kelly leads the SEC with 344.0 total yards per game, and his 163.2 pass efficiency rating ranks 10th in the nation. He’s in the top three in the SEC and Top 20 nationally in passing, and he’s one of five quarterbacks in the nation to rank Top 20 in passing, total offense, pass efficiency and yards per attempt.

He’ll face an Arkansas defense reeling following a 49-30 loss to Alabama. The Razorbacks yielded 517 total yards of offense to the Crimson Tide. Ole Miss is averaging 41.6 points and 491.4 yards a game.

“They’re a good team,” Kelly said. “They do some normal stuff, stuff we can work towards — Cover 1, Cover 2, Cover 3, little corridors. That’s their base defense. They think they can beat you by four or five guys blitzing and those guys in the backfield covering their guys, so I think it will be a good test for us. Last year they showed they were a good team, and they’ve shown they’re a good team this year too. We just got to make sure we come to practice every day focused and ready to work.”

Ole Miss is 3-2 overall and 1-1 in SEC games. The Rebels were off last week, a break Kelly said the team sorely needed.

“We’re well-recharged,” he said. “Just talking to (strength and conditioning) coach (Paul) Jackson, he was excited to get back to it. I’m sure everybody was. Watching other teams play, it gives you that itch to want to be back out there (after) getting a week off to recuperate, refocus and make a long run.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to come out from the start (against Arkansas) as Alabama did in getting an early lead on them.”


On his latest off-the-field incident: “First I mean, that’s a bad decision on my part that I made. If I could do it differently I definitely would. I actually would not go and run out on the field of course. I regret doing it. At the same time I’m sure any of us, if we had seen a family member out there in need of help would have came to the rescue too. I’m looking forward to the next game. We just gotta keep working hard, and I’ve got to make the right decisions.

On similarities he sees between Austin and Brandon Allen: “I think they’re about the same player. They make good decisions. They’re athletic, they make plays, and they can throw it.”

On if he watched football over the bye week: “Tons of it. (In Texas A&M and Tennessee) He’s, what, two yards from the end zone, and it’s about to be a 14-point game with a minute and 50 to go. Just like that it can change your whole perspective on the game, and then you’re going into double overtime and this and that. That’s truly what makes football so great. It’s never over ‘till the last second. We’ve been in games just like that. We’ve just got to finish, and I’m sure those teams preach about finishing too.”

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