It’s that time of the year.
There are just two weeks left in the regular season, and sportswriters are trying to make their last few decisions for their all-SEC selections.
By now, most have things narrowed down to a few players at each position and are waiting to see what transpires over the next few weeks before finalizing their picks.
At quarterback, it seems to be a two-man race between Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott and Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, who have both had fantastic seasons. However, one guy doesn’t get his name in that top tier despite leading the conference in most statistical categories.
Meet Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly.
He entered the season known as Jim Kelly’s nephew and the guy who was a second away from erupting on the sideline. Ten games later, he’s much more than that.
Kelly ranks first in the SEC in yards per game (322.4), passing yards (3,224), passing touchdowns (23) and completion percentage (65.7), in addition to being second in the league in passer rating (155.04) and yards per attempt (8.9).
The only knock on Kelly is his 12 interceptions, which is tied for second-worst in the conference. However, he leads the league in pass attempts. It is important to note that Kelly is forced to throw into defenses that drop seven players into coverage because of Ole Miss’ struggles with pass protection.
Throw in the fact that the Rebels rank eighth in the SEC in rushing offense, and it’s easy to see why Kelly has nearly the entire Ole Miss offense on his shoulders.
Allen has the SEC’s third-best rushing offense, which helps set up easy completions in the play-action game.
Prescott is always thought of as a guy who can hurt you as much with his feet as with his arm, but even when you add the rushing totals to the mix, Kelly has outgained Prescott 3,496 to 3,083 in total yards and 30 to 25 in total touchdowns. Allen has 2,730 total yards and 23 total touchdowns.
Kelly has also averaged 3.66 yards per carry to Prescott’s 3.09 yards per carry in SEC play.
In three games against top-25 teams, Kelly has thrown for 972 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions and completed 64.2 percent of his passes. Prescott has thrown for 635 yards, one touchdown and one interception and completed 58.9 percent of his passes in two games against ranked foes. Allen has thrown for 759 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions and completed 61.3 percent of his passes in three games against ranked opponents.
Kelly’s worst performance of the season came in a 23-3 win against Texas A&M, where the junior threw for 241 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions on 26-for-41 passing. He had a passer rating of 114.27.
Prescott has had two games with a worse passer rating, while Allen has had one.
On the flip side, Kelly has had four games with a passer rating better than 190. Prescott has just two games better than 190, and Allen has three. Kelly’s also thrown for more than 320 yards seven times in 10 games. Prescott did it three times, while Allen has done it twice.
The interceptions are certainly something that should be considered, but you can’t ignore all the other areas where Kelly clearly leads.
I’m not saying Kelly should be named first-team all-SEC, but for him to not be considered at this point in the season is crazy. The last two games of the season may help to change the conversation.