Taylor Kelly was well aware of his program’s recent history following Saturday night’s 36-26 loss in Corvallis to No. 11 Oregon State.
A season ago, after starting out 5-1, the Sun Devils tapered off dramatically with six losses in their final seven games.
This season, after earning a place in the Top 25 with an impressive 5-1 start, Kelly and Co. look headed for a similar nose dive after three straight losses to Oregon, UCLA and Oregon State.
But while the murmurs continue to grow following each new defeat, ASU’s starting quarterback remains confident that 2012 will have a much better ending than 2011 had.
“You know we are disappointed, but I have great confidence in our guys,” Kelly said. “They have great character when stuff hits the fan. This is the time when we are going to pull together better than ever.”
While Kelly’s vote of confidence is admirable given the team’s current slump, the sophomore wasn’t exactly in the trenches during ASU’s late-season slide in 2011.
Running back Cameron Marshall was, however. And while he admits the plunge in the Pac-12 standings has its similarities to last season, the overall feeling in the locker room the senior says is not the same.
“We’ve experienced this before,” said Marshall. “And, it’s familiar and it’s different at the same time, because this group of guys, I think our heads are in a different place than it has been before.”
Marshall added that the Sun Devils still have plenty to play for over the final three weeks of the season and that the team’s collective maturation will help them recover from their recent losing ways.
“I’ve just seen a lot of growth and maturity from a lot of guys on the team,” said Marshall. “Guys who last season at this point in time might have been selfish and not playing for the team or the guys playing for the team the most, encouraging everybody else and other people.
“I think the maturity level has grown on this football team.”
ASU will head to Los Angeles next weekend to face another slumping conference foe, the USC Trojans. Last season, Marshall helped lead the Sun Devils to a convincing 43-22 victory over Lane Kiffin’s squad.