Taylor Kelly, the former Eagle High star, won the starting job in his sophomore season for first-year coach Todd Graham. He has helped the Sun Devils to a 4-1 start and will lead them on national TV on Thursday at Colorado (7 p.m., ESPN). About 30 family members plan to attend. Kelly ranks 16th in the FBS in pass efficiency with nine TDs and two interceptions. We caught up with him during his bye week.
Question: What was the feeling at the end of last season, when Dennis Erickson was on his way out?
Answer: We were hurt, just how our season ended up. We were doing really well at the beginning of the season. I just think guys started getting loose with how they focused during the week for games and practices. I just think that was the big key. The discipline factor as well. Coach Graham, he stresses that on us every single day, whether its in the classroom or on the field. The discipline aspect is huge, thats the big key for us with our team success so far. Weve gone from the last team in penalties to one of the top 15. Discipline and focus have been the big turnaround for us this year.
Question: As a young quarterback, how nervous were you about the coaching change?
Answer: I kind of heard that we were getting coach Graham as a head coach. I studied (Pittsburghs) offense and what they do with that. I felt like I could run this style. I had a very similar style in high school the zone read, and attacking defenses horizontally and vertically. I was confident I could do it.
Question: What did you do the past nine months to get in this position?
Answer: I just worked hard every day, in our workouts, in summer conditioning, in winter conditioning, just getting stronger and watching a ton of film. Over the summer, I turned it on an extra level. It was crunch time to me. Im real excited that I got it.
Question: What does this mean to you, to be a starting quarterback in the Pac-12?
Answer: Its a dream come true. I always wanted to go here to Arizona State, it was one of my top schools coming out of high school. Im really excited that I chose here. Im just truly blessed for this opportunity.
Question: What were your other dream schools?
Answer: Arizona State, Washington, Boise State. Nevada was a school for me as well (he originally committed there).
Question: Was Boise State a factor?
Answer: They were. I was getting recruited heavily by them. I wanted to go there and stay home, but things didnt work out and I had to move on from that.
Question: Did they choose Grant Hedrick over you?
Answer: Yes. It motivated me a lot. Just kind of getting that no, it made me work harder and just have that chip on my shoulder. Being a competitor, I just kind of wanted to work hard and just prove them wrong.
Question: Its been a great start. What can this team do this year?
Answer: We truly believe that we can win the Pac-12 South and go to that Pac-12 (title) game and win it and go on to the Rose Bowl or National Championship Game. We have the players to do it and the coaching staff. Weve just got to keep our focus every week and not overlook any teams. The big thing is having a good week of practice and not getting caught up in the media or the fans.