TEMPE — The NFL already is pining for UCLA sophomore quarterback Brett Hundley.
For Arizona State junior quarterback Taylor Kelly, the message from the next level is equally clear. Enjoy your senior season, then we’ll see.
Their pro stock will have little impact, though, Saturday at the Rose Bowl.
Kelly and Hundley dueled to a virtual draw last season, both with four touchdowns and one interception and more than 300 yards total offense. UCLA had the ball last, and that was enough to tip the scale. Hundley completed four passes in the drive to a game-winning field goal on the final play for a 45-43 Bruins win.
“It shows a lot from being a UCLA team who everybody thought was soft to now being a powerhouse in the Pac-12,” Hundley, a former Chandler High School standout, said of the two-time Pac-12 South champion. “It really shows a lot of resolve for this team and fight and want to, knowing each year is a new opportunity to reach something and be the team we all dream about being.”
Kelly has his own similar dream, to play in the Pac-12 Championship Game, which would be realized with a win in his first game as a starter at the Rose Bowl.
“Just being in that atmosphere (as a backup in 2011) is one of a kind, and I truly remember that,” Kelly said. “I’m excited to get back.”
Both quarterbacks believe they are improved from last year. Kelly is averaging 50 yards more passing per game (283.8) but has thrown 10 interceptions, one more than in 13 games in 2012. Hundley’s rushing average is up and passing is down, but his passing efficiency is improved.
“Last year the offense was a little basic for me as a redshirt freshman,” Hundley said. “There was a lot of bubble screens, just real quick, get it out of my hands to the receivers and let them make the yards for me. This year it’s more dropping back, going through everything, reading defenses and really maturing as a quarterback.”
Kelly is 2-4 in games against Top 25 opponents, a record that does not include losses last year to UCLA and this season to Notre Dame, unranked by the Associated Press when they played ASU.
“Just the experience of being in those big-times games adds up,” Kelly said. “I’m better prepared. You’ve got to have great focus in every aspect of practice, in the hotel, on game day.”