Why I’m Obsessed With This 2–3 College Football Team

Presbyterian College deploys a unique strategy.

In 2010, the University of Michigan set an NCAA record for average attendance at home games, with an average of 111,825 fans.

The team I can’t stop watching averages 3,349 fans in attendance.

In their first game this season, they won by a whopping 84–43.

Week 2, they won in an even bigger blowout, 68–3.

Then the losing streak started.

72–0.

63–43.

Bye week.

38–30.

Division 1 Presbyterian College averages 45 points per game. That’s even after a Week 3 shutout. № 1 ranked Georgia averages 39.8 ppg.

They allow 43.8 ppg.

They also dominate other teams in total yardage — 2,851 vs. 1,996.

So why are they losing?

Wait until you hear about this strategy…

This is the team’s first season under new head coach Kevin Kelley. Before coming to PC, Kelley was the head high school football coach and athletic director of Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, AK, where he posted a 216–29–1 record over 18 seasons. He also won nine AAA State Championships, including six of the last seven. His resume also includes the Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award (2014), being named USA Today High School Coach of the Year (2016) and an induction into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (2021).

How did he do all this?

Kelley is known for three unique strategies: He almost never punts on fourth down (he doesn’t even carry a punter on the roster), he attempts an onside kick if the game is within 21 points, and he goes for every 2-point conversion if it’s not a blowout in their favor.

Time Magazine listed his offensive strategy as one of the greatest inventions of 2009. Also on that list? The AIDS vaccine. Teleportation. The world’s fastest car.

And this strategy makes his games chaotic. That’s how I used to play Madden 04. Except I had one amendment: hail mary plays only. I won a lot of games 140–0.

But seriously, how often does a Division 1 football team win by 65 one week and then lose by 72 the next?

How is it possible that sophomore quarterback Ren Hefley set an FCS record with 10 TD passes in Week 1 and then throw 7 picks in Week 3?

When your school has less than 1,000 students and is one of the few D1 schools that doesn’t award football scholarships, plus you deploy a strategy so crazy that it catches the attention of the likes of Robert De Niro and 6x Super Bowl champion Bill Belichick — there’s a 0% chance it won’t be chaos.

And Kelley is committed to the plan, even after starting 2–3. In a post game interview after their 38–30 loss to Morehead State, Coach Kelley said:

“We gave them the ball inside, deep in our own territory. That’s the way we plan the game. Some of those drives we scored on. If we had punted in normal situations, we wouldn’t have scored on those either. They usually balance out.”

And here’s maybe the best part of all of this: There’s no way to predict how the rest of the season will go. Kelley is a mad scientist, simultaneously an innovator and a madman. And there are no mathematical or statistical predictions to fall back on because no one is ready for this. It’s like the chaos theory explanation in Jurassic Park:

You hit a pool ball, and it starts to carom off the sides of the table. In theory, that’s a fairly simple system… In theory, you could predict the behavior of the ball far into the future, as it keeps bouncing from side to side… But in fact, … it turns out you can’t predict more than a few seconds into the future. Because almost immediately very small effects — imperfections in the surface of the ball, tiny indentations on the wood of the table — start to make a difference. And it doesn’t take long before they overpower your very careful calculations.

We can run the numbers all day long. We can talk about yardages and conversions and percentages until the cows come home, but there’s no use. Chaos is chaos. We can only be mere bystanders in the madness.

Presbyterian plays at conference opponent Davidson this weekend. The Davidson Wildcats are currently 1st in the Pioneer League at 3–1. Presbyterian is 9th in the PL, with a conference record of 0–2.

We will wait and see. That’s all we can do.

It’s so much fun.

Want to chat chaotic college football? Email me: theboywholovedjoekelly@gmail.com

Want to keep updated with the column? Find it on Instagram @theboywholovedjoekelly and Twitter @boywholovedmlb

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