If you go to Bryant-Denny Stadium and beat Alabama, it takes a lot of heart, and it takes a lot of courage. It also takes something else.
Ole Miss has those in spades.
“I saw a lot of good athletes,” former Ole Miss head coach and current CBS Sports Network college football analyst Houston Nutt said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “Really, I thought Ole Miss had more athletes than Alabama. When you look at the way they moved around, Robert Nkemdiche was really a guy they couldn’t handle. (He had) a lot of tackles for loss. Laquon Treadwell, the receiver, really had a really big-time advantage on some of the DBs (he was facing).”
Treadwell had five catches for 80 yards and a touchdown, as Ole Miss beat Alabama, 43-37, this past Saturday to improve to 3-0 and vault to No. 3 in the rankings. Ole Miss led 30-10 in the third quarter and 43-24 in the fourth before holding on for the win.
The Rebels won the turnover battle, 5-0.
“Anytime you turn the ball over the way Alabama did, you’re going to get beat,” Nutt said, “but i didn’t know about Chad Kelly. I hadn’t seen him play. I was very impressed with him, the way he handles things, the way he handles the offense. He runs better than I thought, he can extend the play, he runs a little bit. We all knew that he had weapons on the outside.”
Kelly threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns – one to Treadwell, Cody Core and Quincy Adeboyejo – and ran for 21 yards and a score. The Rebels needed all of Kelly’s production, especially since they rushed for just 92 yards on 32 carries (2.9 yards per carry), with Jaylen Walton rushing 12 times for 33 yards.
“Jaylen Walton is a kid we signed out of Memphis,” said Nutt, who coached at Ole Miss from 2008 to 2011. “He’s a small kid, but he can fly. If they had one more back, I bet Coach Freeze would feel pretty good. But I’m sure they’re feeling pretty good anyway. You go to Alabama and win in that environment, you’re off to a great start.”
Ole Miss beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa for just the second time in program history – and the first time since 1988.
“They’ve done a good job,” Nutt said. “When we were there, we won two Cotton Bowls, and off those two Cotton Bowls, if you look, there’s some guys that are still playing. Ed Orgeron left me two very good classes.”
“He also left me two bad classes and that’s why I’m talking to you tonight,” he said, laughing. “But we signed Robert Nkemdiche older brother, Denzel. Denzel, nobody really wanted him. He was really a good player. And then when we went to the living-room visit, all of a sudden we said, ‘Now who is this guy?’”
That guy was Robert.
“(Denzel said), ‘That’s my brother, coach, and he’ll be the No. 1 player coming out of high school next year,’” Nutt recalled. “I didn’t think much about it at the time, and all of a sudden Robert Nkemdiche is the No. 1 high school junior at the time.
“They’ve got a nucleus there, and Hugh did a good job of adding to it,” Nutt continued. “When you go get a Treadwell, you go get an Evan Engram, a Cody Core – you got athletes all over the field. And then secondary-wise, what I like about them is the guys have length. They have length along with athletic ability. When you got a little height on you, that always helps.”
The Rebels face two ranked teams the rest of the way, both at home. They host No. 14 Texas A&M (3-0) on Oct. 24 and No. 8 LSU (2-0) on Nov. 21.
Ole Miss hosts Vanderbilt (1-2) this Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.