Heading into the 2012 season Taylor Kelly was trying to find his place on the Arizona State football team. He was buried on the quarterback depth chart and was not expected to compete for the starting spot under first year head coach Todd Graham.
Flip the calendars a year and it’s a totally different story for Mr. Kelly.
Last season Kelly worked himself into the starting position after impressing the coaching staff through his strong play in the spring, into the summer and topped it off with a strong fall camp. Kelly made the coaches decision pay off during the regular season as he led the Sun Devils to their highest win total (8) since 2007, including a Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl win over Navy.
Not only did Kelly display solid leadership under center but he put up big numbers in the process. The now redshirt junior threw for over 3,000 yards with 29 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He was second in the Pac-12 and seventh nationally in passing efficiency. All of that from a player that was third on the depth chart of three quarterbacks at the beginning of the 2012 campaign.
Now the question is whether or not Kelly can follow up that breakout season with a similar 2013 performance.
The thing about this season, something that Kelly will have to adjust to, is playing with higher expectations. He can’t sneak up on anyone anymore but with a year under his belt, and another entire offseason to perfect Graham’s offense, he will be a difficult force to defend in 2013. Kelly has been studying his game film from a season ago, specifically ASU’s five losses, in order to improve on his deficiencies but the main thing that Kelly has worked on this offseason is his footwork.
In their five losses last season Kelly threw an interception in each of them, mainly because of sloppy footwork. So, seemingly, if Kelly can fix the footwork issue then he can lead ASU to even greater heights this season.
That is easier said than done and the set of higher expectations is something that Kelly will have to deal with all season long.