Todd Graham was full of optimism when he addressed the media at Pac-12 Media Days on Thursday and rightfully so.
In his second season at Arizona State, Graham led the Sun Devils to a 10-4 record and an 8-1 mark in the Pac-12 to capture the Pac-12 south division title and finished ranked in the top 21 in both polls.
The 2014 season should be even better with Taylor Kelly returning for his third year as the team’s starting quarterback after completing 62.4 percent of his passes for 28 touchdowns and 3,635 yards.
Kelly quarterbacked the Sun Devils to a 39.7 points per game average in 2013, but Graham has his sights set higher in his third season in Tempe.
“We’ve developed this system and adapted it and geared it each year,” Graham said. “It’s been one of the most explosive offenses in the country for that long a period of time at several different schools, but our system is designed for our players. It’s very quarterback-centered. It requires a guy that’s very disciplined in distributing the ball and doesn’t turn the football over.”
Kelly threw 12 interceptions a season ago, up from the nine he threw as a sophomore, including two each in the losses to Stanford and Notre Dame.
“As good as we were in offense last year, we were 35th in the country in turning the football over,” Graham said. “When we throw interceptions, second-and-long, third-and-long, and behind-in-the-(game) scores and things like that, that’s when those things happen. So with a lot of confidence, we can improve that. This is the best offensive football team I’ve ever coached.”
The continued development of Kelly and the emergence of wide receiver Jaelen Strong, a potential first round draft pick, could go a long way toward backing up the bold prediction from Graham at Pac-12 Media Days.