Arizona State Football: Grading Taylor Kelly Against Wisconsin
Arizona State's quarterback Taylor Kelly had a monster night on Saturday, although he didn't throw for a single touchdown.
While the media and everybody in the Midwest is talking about what Wisconsin's quarterback Joel Stave may or may not have done in the waning seconds of the game, this article is about what Kelly did.
These are the facts and they are undisputed.
The redshirt junior played every snap save for one and further cemented himself as the every down signal caller for head coach Todd Graham and the Sun Devils.
A Record Breaking Effort
Taylor Kelly had a career night on Saturday completing 29-of-51 passes for 352 yards, all career bests. As happy as anybody would be setting career bests in not only one, but three categories, Kelly's 56.8 percent completion percentage is one his lowest performances.
Kelly owns the top two spots in Arizona State's record books for best completion percentage in a game completing 17-of-19 against Navy and 20-of-23 against Washington State. His 2012 season completion percentage of 67.1 percent is also the highest for quarterbacks with 301 or more attempts. Although it is still early in his career, Kelly leads all Sun Devil quarterbacks at 67.5 percent in his career.
The real story of Saturday night was how Kelly would have finished if his receivers didn't have a case of butterfingers. Starting receiver Richard Smith dropped three passes and a mind-numbing seven sure completions hit the Sun Devil turf.
Running on All Cylinders
The Arizona State run game was rather quiet against Wisconsin. The Badgers' stud running back, Melvin Gordon, shredded the Sun Devils' questionable run defense to the tune of 193 yards, averaging nearly 13 yards per carry. Gordon's 477 yards is the 2nd most in the FBS so far this season.
The Devils only managed 116 rushing yards, but scored all their touchdowns on the ground. Marion Grice averaged 3.8 yards per carry for 88 yards on 22 attempts and four touchdowns.
Kelly once again felt the pressure of the world on him and rushed 11 times for 24 yards, the second most attempts on the team.
An Aerial Assault
Taylor Kelly likes to air it out and last weekend was no exception.
In his past five games, Kelly has amassed some amazing numbers including 13 passing touchdowns to only one interception. Also of note, Arizona State was 0-5 coming into Saturday's game when Kelly had thrown a pick. Maybe this is a new era where the Sun Devils can recover from adversity.
His 130 consecutive passes without an interception is a career best that he will look to improve upon—he stands at 23 passes heading into Palo Alto to take on No. 5 Stanford.
His numbers over the past five games are phenomenal; 105-of-153 for 1,357 yards, while averaging 271.4 yards per game. According to ESPN Stats and Info, his total QBR of 95 over that same stretch is second only to conference foe, Oregon's Marcus Mariota.
This year, he is ranked at No. 8 for most passing yards per game with a 358.5 average.
Taylor Kelly has reason to be smiling. The Sun Devils are off to a 2-0 start and are back in the national rankings at No. 23 in both polls. They are owners of the nation's 20th most prolific offense averaging 43.4 points per game and the 20th stingiest defense allowing only 15 points per game.
This is the 20/20 vision that head coach Todd Graham and Kelly need to focus on when they travel to take on the defending Pac-12 champion, No. 5 Stanford Cardinal. Stanford has had a pair of shaky games against lesser opponents so far this season—at home against San Jose St. and on the road at Army.
Kelly had some beautiful over the back shoulder passes last Saturday to newcomer Jaelen Strong and spread the love hitting 11 receivers in the first game and eight different receivers against Wisconsin. If Kelly continues to play like he has in the first two games, the Sun Devils could return to Tempe with a massive upset that would quell all the talk about the "phantom knee touch" against Wisconsin.
David is the Featured Columnist of Arizona State Athletics for B/R. Follow him on Twitter at @asudave.