Kelly Adjusts to College, Game Speed

True freshman's Taylor Kelly's arrival to Arizona State was a rather quiet one. He came from Eagle, Idaho raked as the no. 83 ranked quarterback in the 2010 class and sported a three-star ranking. Certainly not shabby considering fellow signal caller Brock Osweiler was also a three-star recruit and ranked 49th in his class, yet many Sun Devil fans were hardly excited about this true freshman.

But for the ASU followers paying attention since the dog days of summer, the 6-1 195 Kelly is no longer a stranger and has been wowing onlookers with his fleet running and tightly wound passes.

"It's been fun," Kelly boasted. "I've been working out and the speed of the game has helped me a lot. Redshirting helped me understand the game a lot better. It's been good."

Kelly really caught everyone's collective attention in a simulated scrimmage in early August. The session was winding down to the final few plays and most of the focus derived around trying to distinguish a leader between Steven Threet and Osweiler. Perhaps catching the defense napping, Kelly faked a handoff to a running back, kept the ball himself and beat every defender as he ran untouched 40 yards to the end zone.

Head coach Dennis Erickson was effusive in his praise for Kelly, especially with regards to his play action fakes that became a reoccurring nightmare for the defense.

"We ran the zone read in high school a lot," Kelly explained. "That was one of my main strengths, running the zone read. The defensive end doesn't know if I have it or if the running back has it. I like running a lot."

Ever since fall camp ended, Kelly has been regulated leading the scout team as their quarterback. This group does their best to emulate what the opposition will be doing on Saturday, and the experience gained for Kelly could prove to be invaluable.

However, when the Sun Devils are on a bye week, Coach Erickson eliminates the scout team and has the team practice in three squads. This leaves Kelly with more snaps while working with higher caliber receivers like he is these days.

"I like bye weeks a lot because then I actually get reps and I can show the coaches and players what I can do," Kelly confessed. "I'm understanding the game and working with the speed a lot. My arm strength has gotten better. I'll keep working on it and hopefully I can come out on top."

Kelly verbaled the Sun Devils shortly before first-year offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone came on board. Mazzone brought in an offensive system based on speed and passing, and once everyone realized Kelly's speed and tight spirals he was anointed by some as the future of the Sun Devil offense.

"(Mazzone's system) is really similar to what I ran in high school," Kelly stated. "It's fast paced, which I like, and as a quarterback you have to make a lot of decisions all over the place. That's good and I like the system a lot."

For now, Kelly is doing all he can to absorb new information and grow as a quarterback, including spending time working with the quarterbacks ahead of him on the depth chart, Threet and Osweiler.

"They've taught me a lot with the hand signals and what we do in the film room," Kelly said. "We'll talk about different routes and talk about making different decisions."

With the season winding down, virtually no chance of seeing playing time and after already enduring four months of intense practices, it would only be human for Kelly wanting the 2010 season to end as soon as possible. However, the freshman quarterback is still relishing in the day to day grind and preparing for a busy and demanding offseason.

"I'm still enjoying it," Kelly admitted. "Hopefully we'll win out and get to a bowl game. In the offseason I'm going to work on my arm strength, watch film every day. Just try to get faster and bigger."


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