Keller Seeks Confidence

An old football cliché says that you are only as good as your backup quarterback. Through out spring practice, second-string signal caller Sam Keller has shown many signs of being a competent alternate to Andrew Walter. The sophomore told DevilsDigest that he not only takes pride in his own performance, but also in the overall perception his teammates have of him.

"I want to give everybody the confidence that we're not gonna lose a step at all, if and when I have to step in," said Sam Keller. "I played in a couple of games last year, so I'm not a true freshman anymore. I'm a backup quarterback and I have a job to do. Now that I'm an experienced backup, I have to almost pretend that I'm a starter. That's what every backup player needs to do."

"I can't come in and have the coaches and the players sitting there praying that I do a good job," continued Keller. "They need to have that confidence in me knowing that I'm doing a good job. I need to have that confidence in myself."

Despite the many encouraging sings of development he has shown in the last few weeks, Keller believes that his game could use more improvement. "Every day is a step by step process," stated Keller. "I still have a lot to learn. It was fun coming every day out here and getting better. I feel that I did a decent job but there's always stuff you can work on."

During last week's scrimmage, the quarterback was clearly one of the best players on the field completing six of eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Can we expect a strong encore performance in the final scrimmage of the spring? "I go out every practice with the same mentality - to take care of my end, have a good time, and get the guys going," claimed Keller. "I feel like that I did that (last Saturday). But then you go into the film room the next day and there's so much you can improve on. That's the important thing, and learning from your mistakes will pay off in the end in the big game. That's where all the stuff that you're working on in practices and scrimmages all falls into place."

In his first year as a Sun Devil, the former San Ramon Valley (Calif.) high school star threw for 247 yards and one score, while connecting on 23 out of 43 passes. The vast majority of his game experience came on the road against UCLA. It was a true trial by fire, as the signal caller connected on 11-21 passes for 79 yards. "A game like UCLA in the Rose Bowl, that's stuff you need to work on," he said. "You have to be hard on yourself so it all falls into place here in practice, and you step up in crunch time."

"That game was a good lesson," Keller continued. "You know what you're preparing for. You know that everything you're doing out here, is to get ready for a fast paced Division I football game. I definitely wasn't ready, and that's what I'm pushing for in these spring practices. It's a great opportunity to get better." He mentioned his quickness and pocket presence as some of the aspects of his game he's seeking to improve.

The mentality of a backup quarterback is a very unique one. A demise to the team's offensive leader or an injury, are usually the only scenarios where players in Keller's role have a chance for some playing time. Keller admits that this reality is extremely unique. "Andrew is one of my best friends," he said. "I would absolutely love for him to do good, because if he does good that means the team does good. That's pretty much all I care about. But I can't help that I'm a competitor that loves the game and wants to play at all times. That day will come." And circumstances will dictate if that will occur sooner rather than later…

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