Tall order awaits: Cowboys defense Stopping SLU’s Kelley

Standing like a giant in the huddle, Cole Kelley emerges as the largest figure on the field.

At 6-foot-7 and 260 pounds, one can’t miss him from any seat in the stadium.

The Southeastern Louisiana quarterback makes for an easy target to focus on, but a hard one to deal with.

For the second time in four weeks and third in eight months, the McNeese State defense will have its eyes set on the all-American towering behind the eighth-ranked Lions’ offensive line.

“He is hard to bring down,” said McNeese all-American defensive end Isaiah Chambers. “He is not fun to hit.”

On Oct. 2, when the teams met in Lake Charles, McNeese (3-4, 2-2 Southland Conference) sacked Kelley twice while he threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-35 SLU victory.

Kelley, a transfer from Arkansas, is the top passer in the Football Championship Subdivision. He has thrown for 2,742 yards and 26 touchdowns in seven games for the first-place Lions (6-1, 4-0).

The reigning Walter Payton Award winner — the Heisman Trophy in FCS — has produced 5,752 yards of total offense and been responsible for 49 touchdowns in 14 games over the spring and fall seasons.

“He is one of the best quarterbacks in all of FCS no question,” said McNeese head coach Frank Wilson. “He is a big man and has weapons to throw to all over the field.

“The thing about him is he’s more than willing to check it down and take what you will give him. He will also run the ball if he has to and can pick up yards that way.”

Kelley ran for 65 yards and a score on 17 carries a month ago against the Cowboys.

His coach, Frank Scelfo, says Kelley improves with each game.

“The growth of Cole is in his preparation,” Scelfo said. “He is going to keep on getting better and better.

“He has also become a better leader. He is more concerned about his teammates and making sure they get better.”

It’s hard to believe Kelley can be much better than he has, but the Cowboys are expecting him to be at his best.

“We are going to have to find ways to make plays against him,” Wilson said. “He will be a challenge.”

One thing is for sure, Kelley will have the Cowboys attention and he won’t be hard to find.

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