Since spring, whenever Bret Bielema talks about Cole Kelley, the confidence comes in somewhere along the way.
There’s also been the occasional rolling of the eyes, shaking of the head and usually a smile.
It’s clear to see Bielema and offensive coordinator Dan Enos like the big guy out of Lafayette, Louisiana. Once the players figured out how to figure out the Cajun accent (which has improved), they have been better with him, too.
“I’m not sure what it was actually that what he was saying,” center Zach Rogers said Wednesday afternoon.
But he admitted it has improved.
“He’s pretty easy to understand now,” Rogers said. “Maybe we are used to him now. Maybe he’s just talking the way we talk now.”
“I guess I did have to slow down a little,” Kelley said.
What he does talk with is confidence … in everything.
“My confidence is higher now … even higher than before the Alabama game,” Kelley said, admitting even he is a little surprised to say that. “If the quarterback doesn’t have confidence you wouldn’t expect the team to be confident in the quarterback.”
Kelley is trying to break the stereotype of the tall quarterback failing. There haven’t been many over 6-foot-5 have success. None are in the Hall of Fame.
The tallest? Probably Dan McGwire, who completed exactly half of his 148 career throws in the NFL. The incompletions, like the case so often with quarterbacks over 6-5, often sailed high or were drilled into the ground short.
Something about the angles just never has been right, although people have been fascinated with the idea of a tall quarterback.
Kelley is hoping to break the mold. He can do it in either Bielema’s antique “huddle system” or with the no-huddle with some tempo thrown in for good measure.
“Either way is fine with me,” Kelley said. When you go up-tempo it catches the defense off guard and makes it tougher for them to execute their blitzes. That’s what happened a little bit.”
He does know all the other stuff doesn’t matter if you don’t come out on top.
“We have to win the game,” he said. “No matter what, you have to win this game. It’s an exciting time. It’s an important game, but all of them are important. We want to win this game at home.
“It’s a little weird that it’s our first SEC game here and that just makes it more important. That’s all I want to do, win this game.”
Now the only question is if the Hogs can take advantage of that confidence.