ASU Football: Kelly’s Absence Proves Value

December 29, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Taylor Kelly (10) runs with the ball against the Navy Midshipmen in the third quarter of the Fight Hunger Bowl at AT

Taylor Kelly has some strange luck.

ASU’s starting quarterback, who’s favorite hobby is auto racing, was seemingly far from danger while simulating a hand-off during a simple run through over the weekend. He caught an elbow from running back Kyle Middlebrooks during the play and received several stitches in his forehead as a result. The junior signal-caller was forced to miss Monday’s scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium, providing an opportunity for backups Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank to get quality reps.

The outcome: they struggled against a steadily improving defense; combining to throw four interceptions with just three touchdowns and completing less than 50% of their passes.

A disappointing performance, especially for Bercovici, who was recently quoted as saying, “I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m the smartest person in that quarterback room, and when the opportunity arises I’m not going to come off the field. I honestly feel this year I’m going to be on the field.”

Monday’s performance did not help Bercovici’s case, further solidifying Kelly’s position atop the QB depth chart; a spot few expected him to be in this time last year. Kelly played his way into the starting job during 2012′s fall camp with his decision-making and proficiency in Todd Graham’s “High Octane” offense. He rewarded his coach’s decision, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 29 touchdowns while completing 67% of his passes. Despite a solid season, the Idaho native has not lost perspective or his competitive nature.

“Every single morning I wake up, I think about last year how I had to be the best every single day. I haven’t really accomplished anything, from my standpoint. I have to keep pushing myself and try to be perfect every single day. Because there are two other guys who want this job just as much as I do. And they’re looking to push me and I’m going to push them.”

Kelly’s mobility was also an asset as he was often forced to extend plays and call his own number to the tune of 516 rushing yards and one score on the year. Opponents were forced to gameplan around Kelly’s dual threat abilities, creating opportunities during read-option plays for his teammates.

“I just have to come to work every single day with a championship mindset,” said Kelly of his motivation to take the next step, “and push the other 10 guys on offense to the very best of their ability.”

With a year of experience in the position and a young group of talented receivers added to his arsenal, Kelly is looking to go from a game manager to a game changer this season. Armed with excellent mobility and deceptive throwing power, Kelly has all the tools to be an elite Pac-12 quarterback.

Once he learns to duck…

Topics: Arizona State Sun Devils, Football, Pac-12 Conference, Pop, Taylor Kelly

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