For as many question marks as there are on the defensive side of the ball at Arizona State, things are a lot calmer on offense. One position that won’t be of concern for the Sun Devils in 2014 is quarterback with Taylor Kelly under center.
“We’ve got a quarterback and that’s the first thing you’ve got to have to win a championship,” Graham told the Pac-12 Network on Thursday at Pac-12 media days. “He has a burning desire to get better and he will be a lot better this fall than he was last year.”
Kelly will have a chance to prove Graham correct in an offense that has a lot of returning production. D.J. Foster, one of five FBS players who had 400 yards on the ground and in the air in the past two seasons, is a capable replacement in the running game for Marion Grice. Jaelen Strong, Kelly’s favorite target last season, will return, and newcomers redshirt freshman Ellis Jefferson and four-star JUCO transfer Eric Lauderdale are also expected to contribute at the wide receiver position. Kelly should also have plenty of time to throw with three returning starters on the offensive line, which also adds four-star recruit and Auburn transfer Christian Westerman.
While Kelly has became just the second quarterback in ASU history 3,000 yards in consecutive seasons, what impresses Graham more is the signal caller’s character when the cameras and lights are turned off.
“I want him to marry my daughter,” Graham said. “He’s the most respected person in our building, he is no doubt the best that I’ve ever coached especially when it comes to the intangibles and how he leads his team.”
Graham, who says the 2014 Sun Devils have best offense he’s ever coached, is thankful he can lean on Kelly who has been the only starting quarterback during Graham’s time at ASU.
“It’s hard to put your finger on but he’s just got that ‘it’ factor,” Graham said. “He’s a guy you totally depend on and that’s a high standard, there’s not many guys that meet that.”