Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was the only starting quarterback in the Pac-12 without a loss going into last Saturday’s matchup with Oregon State. However, you would not know it was his only loss of the season based on the scrutiny he has been under since returning to the lineup three weeks ago.
Back-up Mike Bercovici stepped in and played well in Kelly’s absence going 2-1 and putting out a masterful performance against the defending conference champion Stanford.
Todd Graham has chosen to go with loyalty on this matter which is to be expected seeing as Kelly has been the man under center since game number one for the head coach and has led them to success that many thought might not be obtainable so quickly. Since the injury occurred however, the news that Kelly had needed surgery and a pin put in his foot after leaving the Colorado game early made the injury sound much more severe then it was made out to be while he was not in uniform.
On Monday, Todd Graham mentioned at his weekly press conference that the injury could still be prevalent to Kelly even though he has been back for three games.
“He’s getting better but I still don’t think he is running at the level that he was before,” Graham said. “But a lot of that I think has to do with the injury and where he’s at. Before the injury, he was moving a lot better and able to execute a lot of the read zone stuff and he’s been slowed by that.”
“I am not sure he is 100 percent back yet,” he added. “And that is something that is hard to look at and hard to evaluate because obviously, watching him in practice is one thing and the game is another.”
It comes with the territory of being a quarterback that win things do not go right, the finger initially is pointed at you. Looking back at the game in Corvallis, Kelly was definitely not at his best and Graham acknowledged that he did not make plays that they are used to seeing him make. But it was not the only problem. ASU’s defense gave up 185 yards on the ground in the first quarter alone and Zane Gonzalez missed an uncharacteristic field goal. It was an issue in all three phases.
“I thought the number one thing like I told our players, it was every one of us and me mainly,” mentioned Graham. “We didn’t make the right adjustments or do the things we needed to do to win.”
“It was cold and I didn’t think it would effect us,” he added. “But evidently it did. There were just things that were out of our character that happened.”
Graham mentioned he got to a level of frustration that he wishes had not happened.
“I apologized to our players for how I responded,” he stated. “I ask them to do things with class and character and obviously I didn’t respond that way. I feel the same way for our fans.”
As always with Graham after a win or a loss, it’s on to the next and the next is a home matchup with 3-7 (2-5) Washington State on Saturday morning.
“They just got through beating Oregon State at Oregon State,” Graham explained. “We’ve got to go a great job with coverage, great job with pressure and obviously we have to score points when we have the opportunity to do so and limit the snaps on defense.”