ASU football started the year 5-1. ASU has since gone 0-4. Is this Taylor Kelly’s fault?
In ASU’s five wins this year, Kelly has thrown for 13 touchdowns and zero interceptions. In losses, Kelly has thrown for eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Not great numbers for a team whose slogan is “Own the Ball”.
ASU as a team has turned the ball over 19 times this year. Nine of those turnovers have come from the arm of Taylor Kelly.
I will be the first to admit I bought into the hype. I was all in on ASU this year after their fast start. Coach Graham spoke victory to me and made me a believer in his high-octane offense. I was foolish for falling into this trap.
Coming into this year, I was riding the Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici bandwagons. I didn’t even have Taylor Kelly on my radar. All I knew about Kelly was that he gave Brock Osweiler crazy hand signals from the sidelines last year. After watching some spring practice, I started to see Kelly throw and run the new offense of Coach Mike Norvell. I liked his decision making, but he just didn’t have the arm strength to make all the throws.
Going into Camp Tontozona I really thought it was a two-horse race between Eubank and Bercovici. It never crossed my mind that the kid from Idaho would be under center come game one. Sure enough, Graham saw something in Kelly that I did not and named him starter, and my skepticism began.
Now let me digress here for a moment. All three quarterbacks came with their pros and cons. Eubank is tall and mobile but is still raw and needs work on his mechanics. Bercovici has an arm like a cannon but does not move well outside of the pocket. Kelly is a good decision maker but lacks the arm strength to make all the throws.
Well as the story went, ASU started 5-1, started garnering national attention and Taylor Kelly blew away all of his doubters.
I got swept up as well, and let my skepticism fade. I bought into this kid: he was a gamer. He extended plays and truly ran a high-octane offense. Something I didn’t think any of the three options at quarterback could do.
But then came Oregon, UCLA, Oregon State and USC; in other words, the best teams in the Pac-12. Kelly began to look like the quarterback I thought he would be. The team around him began to crumble.
At the beginning of the year, coach Graham and his staff used both Eubank and Kelly. This caught defenses off guard and really helped develop both quarterbacks. Once the games started to really matter, it looked like Graham started coaching the games to not lose, instead of to win. He abandoned the two-quarterback system and put the team on solely Kelly’s back. This led to the team’s downfall.
I’m not saying that Kelly is a bad quarterback by any means. I would argue, however, that when the spotlight shined on him, he failed to become the leader this team desperately needed. This is why I’m proposing a quarterback change. Give Eubank more playing time in these last two weeks.
Let Eubank start and give him a chance to develop. Kelly will get his snaps as well as long as Graham’s staff allows the two-quarterback system from the beginning of the year that worked so well to continue.
ASU hosts Washington State this week. Unless Cougars’ head coach Mike Leach locks all the ASU football team in an equipment shed and forces ASU to forfeit, ASU will win this game no matter who is at quarterback. This is the perfect game for Eubank to get his chance to shine.
Let’s face it. ASU is not very good. They may be better next year, but I would say they are about three years away from actually being a good Pac-12 team if Graham stays at Arizona State. That is why I say shake things up when you can. Because a few years down the line if this team is still mediocre without a legitimate quarterback, Athletic Director Steve Patterson may be looking for a new head coach again.