After winning the Territorial Cup and leading the Arizona State Sun Devils to their first winning season in five years, quarterback Taylor Kelly is on track to be on of the best quarterbacks the school has ever had. But is he better than departed signal caller Brock Osweiler?
Brad Denny of House of Sparky thinks the sophomore quarterback could be on his way.
After a record-setting junior season, Osweiler left early for the NFL and was selected by the Denver Broncos in the second round. Denny suggests that Osweiler's success at Arizona State came under more comfortable circumstances than Kelly was faced with in his first season under center for the Devils. Namely, the coaching situation.
Before taking the reins, Osweiler had the benefit of a full year to absorb and learn Mazzone's offense, not to mention getting to gain valuable experience playing the majority of the UCLA game before starting the finale against Arizona.
Conversely, Kelly is still learning Norvell's offense. Last season under Mazzone, Kelly saw sparse duty in a pair of games in relief of Osweiler in 2011, throwing just four passes in the blowout win over Colorado. Unlike Osweiler, who entered the 2011 offseason as the unquestioned starter, Kelly had to battle Michael Eubank and Mike Bercovici for valuable practice reps, and, as mentioned earlier, wasn't named the starter until just 10 days prior to the season opener.
Then there's Kelly's inexperienced receiving corps contrasted with Osweilers seasoned senior receivers last season.
Last season, led by the experienced senior trio of Gerell Robinson, Aaron Pflugrad and Mike Willie, Sun Devil wide receivers amassed 283 receptions for 3,748 yards. To put in in percentage totals, that was 85% of the team's teams total catches and 91% of the total yards through the air.
This year, with the loss of those three, the unit has struggles tremendously. The wide receiver production has fallen to 113 catches for 1,396 yards (or one less yards than Robinson had by himself), each figure being about 45% of the team's receiving total. Thankfully for Kelly, the emergence of Chris Coyle at tight end and the receiving ability of D.J. Foster and Marion Grice (128 total catches, 1,587 yards) has become the core of the aerial attack.
To read Denny's complete case for Kelly, head over to House of Sparky.