After a disappointing first half of the game, where Taylor Kelly only completed 5 out of 12 passes for 62 yards, the sophomore came out in the second half looking like a different signal caller. During that period he completed 9 of 11 passes for 116 yards and also rushed for 59 net yards.
Kelly knew as the team’s quarterback that it imperative for him to lead the team on and off the field especially through adverse times.
“Guys look up to me as quarterback,” Kelly explained. “If I make a bad play I need to bounce back and move forward. Coach told me that you can’t go backwards only forwards. You need to forget about the mistakes and move onto the next play.”
Kelly’s message to his team during halftime was simple and right to the point.
“Coming out of halftime I was telling the guys we need to get a score here,” Kelly recalled. “Then we started to slow them down in the third quarter and in the beginning of the fourth we started to click. I was just trying to get the guys in the best position to make plays.”
The Sun Devil signal caller stressed the need to his teammates for them to get back to the basics and focus on making one play at a time.
“I just told the offensive line that I’ve got their back and they are doing a great job giving me time,” Kelly stated. “I said that we are going to go out there and score. I told the receivers to focus on bringing the ball in and making plays, and if we do that we are going to be right back in the game”
When the fourth quarter began, Kelly turned to instincts to keep the ASU rally alive and give the team a chance late in the game.
“We had to do something,” Kelly said. “I let my skills take over and gave them the best chance to make plays that I could. I just wanted to go out there and play the way I knew I was capable of playing. I have trust in my feet and that guys would come open while I was scrambling.”
Even though they lost on Saturday, Kelly believes that there are a lot of positives that the team can take from their performance.
“I sensed a lot of chemistry between the team in the fourth quarter.” Kelly remarked. “I grew from that and it was a good learning experience for the team. I hate to lose more than anything, but it gave me good film to watch and identified areas I need to improve upon.
“We love to fight back. We are competitors and have a lot of heart. We have a good team and that will show up later in the season.”
The 24-20 loss also highlighted areas where he feels the offense still needs to improve if they are going to take the next step as a football team.
“We just need to keep progressing every week,” Kelly noted. “We had a great practice today offensively, a lot better than our practice last Tuesday. I need to practice better every week, last week we weren’t as focused as we needed to be and we were loose with the football.”
Now the attention of the team turns to Pac-12 play in what Coach Graham call the ‘real season’ and there first test is Utah.
“We had a great day of practice today and guys are fired up to play Utah this week” Kelly said. “Utah has a great defense. We have to have a great week of practice and expect anything from them.
“If we can take care of the ball and execute the way we know we can, we should have success.”