Kevin Kelley, the former Arkansas high school coach who never comes across and tries numerous onside kicks per game, made his college coaching debut for Presbyterian College, an FCS program, on Saturday. His team put together a bold feat that fits Kelley’s coaching strategy.
The Blue Hose dismantled NAIA St. Andrews, 84-43, behind an FCS record of 10 touchdowns and 538 yards from quarterback and former Michigan walk-on Ren Hefley. As a team, Presbyterian overtook St. Andrews by nearly 500 yards – 814-315 – with 621 coming through the air.
These 84-point Presbyterian scoring results are one less than the school’s single-game season total for the 2020-21 season – on the basketball court.
“I definitely didn’t expect that,” Kelley told the Associated Press of the Blue Hose’s offensive capabilities. “I think I’m not good at a lot of things in the world, but I’m good offensively and I’ve worked really hard in that area.”
Kelley proved he was more than good offensively at Pulaski Academy, the Little Rock, Arkansas High School team, which he led to nine state championships. Hefley wasn’t quarterback on those Bruins teams, but he played under Kelley during his fifth through ninth grades.
That long-standing quarterback-coach connection quickly paid off. Hefley – who was on Michigan’s squad from 2019-20 but saw no game action – received the Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Week honor on his very first college appearance, where he threw four touchdowns of 25 yards or more.
Kelley told the AP he had heard from supporters like former Arkansas high school coach and current UCF coach Gus Malzahn, whose team put together an impressive feat on their own in Week 1. But the biggest approval came from Kelley’s players, who understandably questioned their new coach’s tactics.
“Those kids, when you say things are going to be different, they’ve heard it before,” said Kelley, whose team tried nine onside kicks and five fourth down attempts at the season opener.
The Blue Hose players need to know that things are different now and have a chance for more points this Saturday against NAIA University of Fort Lauderdale.