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ASU’s Graham: Quarterback Taylor Kelly is ‘a great student of the game’

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly is coming off a career performance. He totaled seven touchdowns in a 55-21 road win over Washington State, earning him Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week.

While Kelly’s stats are great, what impresses head coach Todd Graham the most about his quarterback is his intangibles.

“He really is a great student of the game,” Graham said Monday. “I think he has as good of a grasp as even maybe some of our coaches have. He has that kind of intelligence. He’s a very selfless person, so he will listen.”

Graham said he spends a lot of time talking to Kelly during practice, though not about his execution; offensive coordinator Mike Norvell doesn’t let Graham get involved with that aspect of Kelly’s game. Instead, Graham said he preps Kelly on how defenses will play against him and informs him on what he does well.

Graham also praised Kelly for his leadership and willingness to learn.

“Every so often, he makes a mistake or two, and down the stretch we have to make sure we minimize those, but he learns from them,” Graham said. “(He’s a) very humble guy. Genuine too. I mean he’s genuine and I think our team really follows him, and he’s a great leader. The intangibles are so much more important.”

Though Graham is known for being a defensive-minded coach, he admitted how important a quarterback is to the team’s success.

“To win a championship, you have to have a quarterback,” Graham said. “I used to not say that, you say, ‘One person doesn’t matter that much.’ Yes they do. You have to have a quarterback, period. If you don’t have one, then it’s pretty tough to win a championship.”

Graham said he’s happy to have Kelly at the helm, and believes the redshirt junior will only improve going forward.

“He utilizes the components that he has and doesn’t try to do too much,” Graham said. “He’s gotten better every single week.”