The first test for Taylor Kelly came on the road at Missouri. Arizona State was looking for their first win against an SEC opponent in school history. The Sun Devils found themselves down 17-0 early in the game. Taylor Kelly and the offense would not quit, and fought back to ultimately lose 24-20. For Taylor Kelly, this was his time to show off how good of a leader and quarterback he is.
The Good: Taylor Kelly once again proved that he is good enough to lead this football team and give them the best chance to win. He went 14 for 23 for 178 yards, adding 1 TD and 2 INTs. He had a stretch where he completed 11 straight passes. These are the types of numbers that are going to allow this team to compete each and every week. In the fourth quarter alone he went 6 for 8 for 101 yards and 1 INT. The INT was the last Arizona State offensive play as Kelly attempted to lead the team down the field to take the lead and complete an incredible comeback.
The Bad: Kelly and the Arizona State offense had a tough time getting going. Their first 6 drives led to 5 punts and a turnover. In the first quarter, Kelly went 1 for 7 for 6 yards and the first of his two interceptions. Taylor Kelly had four first quarter drives and none of them entered Missouri territory. Only one of ASU’s drives in the first half went into Missouri territory and that one led to the first ASU score of the game. In the first quarter Missouri out-possessed the Sun Devils 10:57 to 4:03. Taylor Kelly could not lead a successful drive early.
The Ugly: The most glaring fact out of this entire game would have to be that Taylor Kelly led the Arizona State offense with 59 rushing yards. For an offense that has a senior running back leader in Cameron Marshall and an emerging freshman in DJ Foster, Kelly leading the team in rushing spelled doom from the start. Todd Graham’s offense is designed to allow Kelly to throw the ball, while mixing in the carries for Foster, Marshall, Eubank, and occasionally, himself. But when he carries the ball 15 times in the game for only 59 yards, it contributes to the offensive struggles early in the game. Kelly was not given a lot of time in the pocket to throw early on, and even when he was, he struggled to connect with his throws, digging the ASU team into a grave.
After all of this, the team still can take some positives out of this. Taylor Kelly proved himself as a quarterback who handles pressure well and is capable of leading a fourth quarter comeback. He showed his ability of bouncing back from an awful start to a game and how he is a leader of this team. Going forward, this team needs to allow him to play the way he knows how to play and allowing the team’s depth at running back to carry the running game and take some of the pressure off of Kelly.