TEMPE, Ariz. - Taylor Kelly may have gone unnoticed by the Davey O'Brien Foundation. Those folks failed to include him among the 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award which is given annually to the best quarterback in the nation. But he has not escaped the attention of his head coach.
"He's played incredible," ASU coach Todd Graham said Tuesday.
Nor the attention of opposing head coaches.
"He's making great decisions," Kyle Whittingham of Utah said this week on the Pac-12 coaches' teleconference.
"He's a very, very good runner; throwing the football efficiently. He's doing a great job. I can't say enough good things about him. He's the catalyst really for what they're doing on offense."
In the past two games alone, Kelly has accounted for 66 points with seven passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns.
"He's a very difficult quarterback to defend," Graham said.
But more so recently.
The second-year starter has put the "dual" back in "dual-threat" quarterback.
"I'm getting more confident," Kelly explained for why he's rushed the ball more lately. "It's just kind of starting to hit me. I guess I kind of just went away from it from the beginning. Now I'm just starting to -— that I've done it, it's kind of second nature. I'm not thinking about it anymore. It's just happening. I'm just going through and taking what the defense gives me."
Whether it is confidence or simply more designed run plays, the numbers tell the story. In the first five games of the season, Kelly rushed for 129 yards and zero touchdowns. In three games since, his ground work has totaled 186 yards and five touchdowns.
"Maybe just staying in the pocket a little bit more," he said of his low rushing totals at the start of the year. "That's what I kind of worked on in the offseason was just trusting the offensive line and just getting that rhythm in the pocket.
"Now, if things break down, just use your feet and don't take any sacks."
With the threat to run apparently rediscovered, Kelly has helped position the Sun Devils as the conference's second-best scoring offense (46.6 points per game, behind only Oregon at 55.6) and sixth nationally.
ASU has topped 50 points in three straight games, including large first quarter advantages against Colorado (25-0) and Washington State (21-0).
"That's what we want to do is start fast and finish strong. We say that in every game," Kelly said. "Guys come out in practice fast and finish strong. It carries on to game day."