During last Saturday's loss to the USC Trojans, Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly had yet another bad game.
Following his touchdown pass to Chris Coyle on the game's second drive, he began to struggle mightily in the face of the Trojan pass rush, and finished the game on the bench with just 174 yards and three interceptions to his credit.
His recent rough patch have led many fans to demand a change at quarterback, and it also presents the latest House of Sparky staff roundtable debate question:
Should ASU make a change at quarterback?
Cory Williams: Taylor Kelly's play has dropped off considerably in recent weeks. Is this a byproduct of the higher level of competition, the increased pressure mounting on the team, the offensive line getting exposed as inconsistent and easily handled, or Kelly's limited potential? I think it's an amalgamation of all these factors.
I won't ask for Michael Eubank, because I am not confident he is the answer. He can't throw the ball consistently enough, and we don't have the wide receivers necessary to make mediocre throws into big gains. Eubank looked good in limited snaps against USC, but a full game under center would not be a good experience for ASU.
At this point, we should stick with Kelly and hopefully beat Wazzu next week. Then, the bowl berth is secured, and Graham can focus all his energies on scheming for the UA game. If that includes increased packages for Eubank, so be it. But for now, stick with the guy who has been the leader of the offense all season long.
Codu Ulm: I agree with Cory 100%. There are still goals that need to be accomplished, the most obvious of those being reaching bowl eligible status.
I, like most individuals, have lost almost all confidence in Kelly as the future of this program but it would be idiotic to switch things up now. His play hasn't been the prettiest over the past couple weeks but he still gives ASU their best chance to beat WSU and Arizona. And if he can lead the Devils to a 7-5 record, then I think we can all agree this season was a success.
Nick Marek: I'm not going to lie. I'm a little disappointed that Cody does not see Kelly as the quarterback of the future. Michael Eubank has an absolute cannon and his accuracy has to get better in the coming years but all of these players would be first year starters. Is anybody on this staff really going to tell me that 2.300 plus yards, 21 touchdowns and 9 interceptions is that bad? Yes he has seven interceptions in the last four games against good competition, but he was forced to throw the ball more when ASU was down. The Sun Devils have the Philadelphia Eagles syndrome—no offensive line. That should be the bigger question in this conversation. Also, in the first six games this season, the defense surrendered 14 points per game. In the last four, the maroon and gold gave up 40.5 points per game. The Sun Devils and Kelly are not clutch but was anyone really expecting eight or nine wins this season with a new coach, new playbook and new man under center? Kelly is doing very well in his first year and deserves to finish the season as the starting quarterback. Coach Todd Graham should and will re-evaluate the quarterback situation this off-season but it is Kelly's job to prove to the fans if he can lead this team to a bowl game.
Ben Haber: PREACH NICK PREACH. Taylor Kelly only sports 10 career starts and will get back on track during the final stretch. Obviously Kelly's recent struggles are concerning, but switching to Michael Eubank won't solve any problems. Fans always love the backup quarterback, but in actuality, he's No. 2 on the depth chart for warranted reasoning. Eubank has displayed no passing skills; therefore he shouldn't even be in consideration. Despite Kelly's evident drop off, his overall stats are better than expected. People need to remember ASU were supposed to be predicated on ground and pound football, yet failed to live up to lofty pre-season expectations. The inability to run hurts Kelly's ability to pull of play action let alone succeed in general. In addition, let's not forget about ASU's incompetent wide receiving group. No doubt, Kelly deserves a lion's share of blame for the 4 game skid, but there are a plethora of other issues. Kelly could prove me wrong and not be a stable signal caller going forward, but is without a doubt ASU's top option right now.
Cory: Really? We're all just going to agree that Taylor Kelly should stay QB? I am glad we're all thinking straight. Though a small part of me wonders what Michael Eubank would be like if we had a slightly stronger offensive line and a deep threat. The same part of me wonders how good Kelly would be with that extra set of talent around him.
Brad Denny: I'm surprised. There's a level of unity here in the opinions, at least in the short term, although Cody apparently will hate Kelly in the future.
As I elaborated on in this piece over on SB Nation Arizona, I really have a hard time placing the level of blame on Kelly that most people do. Facing four straight teams in the top 20, all with very solid to really good defenses is no easy task. Plus, you add in a terrible pass blocking line (ASU ranks 111th in sacks allowed), a very poor wide receiving group that has given him virtually no downfield targets and the curious to outright dangerous playcalling of Mike Norvell, and that, my friends, is a recipe for a big time skid.
Plus, he's had just 10 games at the FBS level. Kelly is still a young developing quarterback. Not everyone is Johnny Manziel. Development at the hardest position in team sports takes time, and will have its highs and lows. The fact is, he gives the Sun Devils the best chance to win these next two games.
Is Taylor Kelly the future? Impossible to say, but he has shown me enough this year with his playmaking and more importantly, his intangibles, that I think he has a good shot at becoming a top-tier starter in the Pac-12.
Ryan Bafaloukos: I am surprised that we have not seen more of Michael Eubank. I think the question has to be asked, has Taylor Kelly improved this season? I still see him making the same mistakes he made against Oregon, forcing the ball into tight spaces when he gets forced out of the pocket. I understand that Kelly has played four tough teams in a row, but those teams aren't going anywhere, they are the teams that ASU will content with for years to come. I agree that Kelly does not have much at receiver and against USC the offensive line was pathetic. I can pretty much tell you how these next two games will go. Kelly will look impressive against WSU and put up big numbers. Then against Arizona, Kelly will play mediocre and force too many throws. My biggest concern is that we have not seen the improvement and development that we should be seeing from Kelly.
Cody: Now that I'm firmly settled into my role as Public Enemy No. 1, I'd like to put my words into context. When I said I've lost all confidence in Taylor Kelly as the future of this program, I meant that as in that it's no longer a guarantee. With the way Kelly was playing in the first half of this season, I thought for sure that ASU had found their quarterback for the next three years. But after he's come down to earth these past three games, I wouldn't be surprised if Eubank gets a fair crack at the starting job next year. Don't get me wrong, I've become a huge fan of Kelly's work this year. He's manged to get something out of nothing more times than not and I think he's made this offense overachieve on plenty of occasions. Be that as it may, he's hardly been the epitome of consistency. And I still believe in my preseason statement that Eubank is the explosive threat that Todd Graham imagines when he visualizes his perfect offense. If Kelly didn't struggle so much on the road, I'd say that he would have a steady asset to build this offense around moving forward. Instead, we'll probably be treated to another offseson quarterback competition.
Do you think it's time for a change? Sound off below in the Comments section.