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We talk with the new face of ASU's program, quarterback Taylor Kelly to get his thoughts on his hot start and the team's early success.
ASU's three-man quarterback battle was a heated competition, resulting in Taylor Kelly earning the job. However, at the time, media members like myself questioned the decision. In spring ball, Kelly was announced third on the depth chart. After an extremely impressive fall camp, the tables flipped, and Kelly was established as the Sun Devils primary signal caller.
Since Kelly has been granted the opportunity, he has continued to prove all the doubters wrong. Kelly is not only the clear best quarterback on roster, but also ranks first in passer rating in the Pac-12 and 9th overall in the nation. The stats do not lie, posting 1,000 yards, six touchdown tosses, two interceptions and 4.5 yards per carry in ASU's first four contests.
Many prematurely labeled Kelly as a "game manager" rather than a "game changer". If Kelly's hot start is a reality, ASU found a gem. While the Sun Devils have started six different quarterbacks over the last five years, that trend could be over as Kelly is only a redshirt sophomore. The Idaho product may be shy, soft-spoken and easy going but posses a killer mentality on the gridiron.
House Of Sparky: From a third-string quarterback in the off-season to now starting and leading the Pac-12 in passer efficiency and 9th in the country, did you expect to perform this well?
Taylor Kelly: I have great confidence in high expectations and myself. I expected some of it but I'm just thankful for my guys giving me the time to throw and get open and the line doing a great job.
HoS: After watching you play early on, it seems like everything is going perfect. What aspects do you need to improve on?
TK: Taking care of the football, just trusting my reads and keep getting better every week. And just watching a lot more film and studying the defense.
HoS: It appears that you have an uncanny ability to remain calm in the pocket despite pressure, why is that?
TK: My coaches do a great job of preaching that to us and knowing where our hots are; and my guys get open and I just got to dump it to them.
HoS: Coach Graham constantly preaches "Own the Ball", how have you been able to keep your interception numbers low?
TK: Just trusting my progressions and going through 1-2-3 check down or run. My coaches preach they preach that to us everyday, so it's in my head at all times.
HoS: Michael Eubank saw decreased playing time last week in meaningful action. Did that help your flow?
TK: No, I just got to keep improving each week. When he gets his reps I still got to be mentally sharp on the sidelines.
HoS: ASU hasn't won at Cal since 1997. What does that stat mean and how are you guys preparing for another tough road contest?
TK: We got to come out with a great focus this week and we had a good practice so far; stay focused on the road and go get this win.
HoS: The wide receivers struggled early on but are starting to come along. From that unit, who is your go to guy and why?
TK: The guys got to trust my progressions, I don't have any really favorite guys. So I just trust everybody and them getting open catching the ball and making plays.
HoS: Expectations for this team weren't too high outside the locker room; does the hot start bring on heightened expectations?
TK: Yeah, our guys are confident in themselves and what we can do. And so each week we need to come out humble and focused.
HoS: Growing up, what quarterbacks did you look up to and try to mimic?
TK: Jake Plummer and Tom Brady, it's just those guys were great in the game and still are. They just understand defenses and are great guys to look up to.