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Mr. Lance Aaron Kelley

7034 Zuma Beach
Converse , TX 78109

Sales/Account Manager
Trend Services, Inc.
Alice, TX 78332
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Football: Steadily improving - Lance Kelley

Bruce Brown • bbrown@theadvertiser.com • September 30, 2010

Lance Kelley knows there's a fine line between learning from your mistakes and becoming obsessed by them.

The junior safety leads the UL Ragin' Cajuns in tackles with 20 after a career-high 11 last week against Middle Tennessee, and by all accounts continues to improve at his position.

But on Tuesday, he quickly executed 10 self-imposed push-ups immediately after dropping an interception in practice, a continuing reminder to hold onto such gifts after muffing an end zone pickoff in the season opener at Georgia.

The St. Thomas More product was merely keeping his mind focused on the task at hand, just as the Cajuns have to regain their focus for this week's road trip to North Texas. That's not easy to do after the 34-14 home loss to Middle, but it does provide a chance for rapid redemption.

"You've got to move on," Kelley said. "You've got to forget about (last) Saturday. You're aware of your mistakes, and you know you need to correct them. You're conscious, but not concerned.

"It stings. It hurts. But it's one loss. We have nine games left. You've got to make the transition into that next game and see that you make plays."

UL trailed MTSU 20-14 at halftime last Saturday before a touchdown bomb and long run enabled the Blue Raiders to pull away. Despite his 11 tackles, Kelley is remembered by some fans as the last Cajun chasing the TD pass.

"One downfall about playing in the secondary is that if you mess up, it's 6 points," Kelley said. "There's nobody behind you."

UL coach Rickey Bustle defended his safety.

"Lance is getting better each week," Bustle said. "It's unfair to hear criticism on the long pass Middle Tennessee hit. They see the completion and see Lance running over there, but he should have had help on that play. He had a long way to go from where he had to come from.

"Right now, he's better than he's ever been."

Kelley agreed that progress is being made.

"Most of the keys are second nature to me now," he said.

"I feel really comfortable on the field. I've adapted pretty well. I understand why we do things and what all this is doing. Plus, we're experienced on defense. (Fellow safety) Maurice Rolle is really experienced. We're always on the same page."

That defense will be tested at UNT, as the Mean Green won last week by reverting back to a strong ground game instead of an aerial attack.

"If they are going to utilize the same game plan as they did at Florida Atlantic, and I don't know why they wouldn't, then we've got to prepare for both styles of offense," Bustle said. "I was really impressed with Riley Dodge, who they moved back to quarterback two weeks ago. He made some critical throws and runs for them.

"Our safeties will be involved. They will have to recognize the run and not be fooled by the play action. We will have be ready to make plays."

"What they did worked last week at FAU," Kelley said. "Lance Dunbar (81-336-1) is a good back, and so is their No. 2 guy (James Hamilton). They made some plays running the ball first.

"Depending on where I'm at, I'm at strong safety or like an outside linebacker. If I'm in the box, I play the run first. Otherwise, I play the pass, then the run."

Cajun scout team members are trying to give starters a picture of UNT's plans this week. As a scout team member his freshman year, Kelley knows their challenge.

"They have to give us different looks, week to week, then move on to the next team," he said. "It's something that's different than the offense they were taught in fall practice. That's why the scout team receivers watch film with us, to see what they need to do."

Kelley played quarterback, running back, receiver and defensive back at STM, and includes special teams duties in his role at UL.

"I've always done a lot of different things," he said. "Whatever they ask me to do, I'll do it. I just want to be on the field."

Even if that includes a few self-imposed push-ups to keep him focused.

* * * * * * * * * *

Football: Kelley delivers on opportunity

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • November 11, 2009

The strong hands that Lance Kelley developed as a receiver came in handy for UL during the closing minutes of last week's 21-18 win over Arkansas State.

After being flagged for a costly penalty on Gerren Blount's interception return in the third quarter, Kelley picked off a Ryan Aplin pass with 2:52 left to end a Red Wolves rally and help the Ragin' Cajuns survive. The sophomore strong safety tipped a ball intended for receiver Taylor Stockemer along the sideline and held on at the UL 24 for his first career interception.

It was a fitting finish for Kelley, a former multi-position standout at St. Thomas More who added four tackles in his first college start as UL won in Jonesboro for the first time since 1997.

"I was so proud to see him make that play," UL head coach Rickey Bustle said of Kelley, who moved to defense from receiver last spring. "He had made a bad block on an interception earlier in the game, and I got on him about that. But I came back and told him 'You had to forget about it because you were going to come back and make a play that means something.'"

And just like that, he did. Kelley felt confident that he made the play, which he agreed was the biggest of his career. But it was still hard to wait for it to be reviewed " and eventually confirmed.

"I looked down and saw that I had one foot down (inbounds)," Kelley said. "I was just praying that (the play would be confirmed). I knew that our defense needed a stop. I'm just glad that I made the play."

The past year has been a whirlwind for Kelley, who redshirted as a freshman in 2007 and was sidelined two games into the 2008 season with a broken left fibula and torn ankle ligaments in a loss at Illinois.

With the Cajuns (5-4, 3-2 Sun Belt) lacking depth in the secondary, Kelley was moved to safety last spring after undergoing surgery on his leg. The early transition was frustrating at times, although his previous experience at receiver did ease the process.

"It helps a lot, mostly pre-snap before the play, seeing where they're lining up at and where they're planning on going," Kelley said. "It's a lot better when you know that you're about to hit somebody instead of getting hit. It was a hard transition.

"As simple as it sounds, back-pedaling was probably one of the biggest differences for me because I had never run backwards on the field before."

The first half of this season was uneventful for Kelley. Sophomore Chris Richard started the first two games at strong safety before getting hurt. Kelley saw limited action as a backup and missed a Week 4 loss at Nebraska due to a back injury. Five players got the start at strong safety during a six-game stretch, and Kelley was not one of them.

At one point, Bustle said Kelley voiced his frustration to him about a lack of playing time. His ability to read and react on defense, though, improved in recent weeks. That translated into increased playing time and eventually last week's start.

Kelley has been at his best the past three weeks, making 11 of 17 tackles this season over that stretch. He is listed as the projected starter for Saturday's game at Middle Tennessee

(6-3, 4-1).

Bustle said Kelley's improved play is a direct result of a different approach during the week in practice.

"Lance was a very gifted player in high school, and is still a gifted athlete, but he's now surrounded by gifted athletes and is playing against gifted athletes," Bustle said. "I really think he changed his work habits " not that he didn't work hard " but he improved his concentration and focus and now he's playing a lot."

Kelley's aggressiveness made his move to defense almost a no-brainer to some inside the program.

"(Receivers) coach (Darryl) Mason always told me when I played receiver that I belonged on the defensive side of the ball because of the way I played and blocked people," Kelley said.

Odds and ends
Quarterback Brad McGuire, a sophomore who has provided a vital run threat this season, worked with the second team in practice Sunday and Tuesday along with redshirt freshman Blaine Gautier. McGuire has missed the past two games with a foot injury since rushing for three touchdowns in a loss to Florida Atlantic on Oct. 24. The sophomore has rushed for four scores on the year "» Tight end Ladarius Green ran in practice Sunday and Tuesday. The sophomore has sat out the last two weeks with a sore neck due to a whiplash suffered in the FAU loss. One of 22 players on the John Mackey Award midseason watch list, Green is still the team's leading receiver this season with 283 yards in the air.

Football:  2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011