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Andy Hodges

Is the Storey of this season going to rise, fall with Ty?

After Ty Storey provided the spark Saturday, no one was ready to put him in the Hall of Fame yet, but you get the feeling the players have more confidence in him.

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After Ty Storey provided the spark Saturday, no one was ready to put him in the Hall of Fame yet, but you get the feeling the players have more confidence in him.

Cole Kelley didn’t struggle early, but the offense didn’t move well.
PHOTO BY TED McCLENNING | HITTHATLINE.COM

No one was knocking Cole Kelley, who started, but they really didn’t have to. This one goes beyond the numbers, too, because Kelley’s (9-of-12, 92 yards, one touchdown) weren’t bad.

It was a feeling.

“He did a really good job and I’m not surprised at all,” wide receiver Jordan Jones said later.

“He stepped up and played a heck of a game,” wideout La’Michael Pettway said. “It was expected, I never once doubted Ty.”

Storey is low-key, calm and appears to stay focused more. Kelley is high-energy with a gunslinger’s mentality and wears his emotions on his sleeve, sometimes losing focus.

Storey is not going to remind anyone of a running quarterback. Kelley is only going to remind you of a statue. His footwork looks almost as slow as his delivery.

Was it impossible for the coaches to see the separation in the spring and fall camp and Kelley got the start Saturday because he started some games last year?

It looks that way.

When game time came, Kelley went through the motions, but the team responded to Storey much better. We’ve heard from some early in fall camp that may be the case.

Storey just downplayed it all later.

“We have a good team, man,” Storey said. “It took that one play then it felt like we all settled down and got into a rhythm. But when you have guys out there like that, you just get them the ball and let them work. My job‘s not too hard.”

According to Chad Morris’ plan, Kelley started and played the first quarter and folks were starting to ask about this high-powered offense they’d heard about.

Kelley came in on the first possession of the second quarter, starting at the Hogs’ 20 after Eastern Illinois shanked a 29-yard field goal.

On first down, Chase Hayden was stopped after a hard-fought yard. Storey and Jones were in sync on a quick out on second down, then came THE play everybody keeps referring to.

Wide receiver Jordan Jones makes a catch down the middle on a pass from Ty Storey.
PHOTO BY TED McCLENNING | HITTHATLINE.COM

Storey, went straight back on a quick drop and hit Jones on a skinny post route remarkably similar to what Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin made almost unstoppable, called a Bang 8. Jones took it for 46 yards and the offense didn’t look back.

“It was a good ball,” Jones said. He led me right in the end zone, so I just tried to catch it and to score or to pick up as many yards as I could.”

Playing with some tempo, the Hogs rode running back Devwah Whaley to a score on a 1-yard run eight plays later and it was 17-0 with 7:25 left in the first half after the defense had picked up a score in the first period.

Storey put touchdowns on the board in three of the Hogs’ next four possessions in the second quarter, including touchdown throws of 14 and 48 yards to Pettway and, for good measure, he got Jones a score on a 57-yard completion with 45 seconds left.

The 14-yarder to Pettway was one the Nashville native caught laying flat on his back in the end zone.

Wide receiver La’Michael Pettway makes a juggling catch on his back of a pass from Ty Storey for a second-quarter touchdown Saturday.
PHOTO BY TED McCLENNING | HITTHATLINE.COM

“When I went up the field, I was trying to throttle and I noticed the ball was away from me so I kind of tried to adjust to it and lost my footing and kind of fell on it,” Pettway said.

“A touchdown is a touchdown, man,” Storey said later, laughing.

Pettway wasn’t surprised about Storey’s performance.

“He stepped up and played a heck of a game,” he said. “It was expected. I never once doubted Tyler. Once his number is called, he always performs. There were things we were doing, you know, you have to go out there and compete, especially in the secondary, but it was a great win.”

Jones laughed that he’s all about the deep passing that seemed to click when Storey came into the game.

“I’m always talking about the deep ball,” Jones said laughing. “I was telling Coach Morris just put one up and he said we were going to get a couple shots in and we did. Pettway did a good job running the vertical routes too. If they are going to play down and not respect that, we just have to go out there and make those plays.”

In the end, Storey running the offense put up 315 yards while Kelley (and Daulton Hyatt for an unremarkable series) had 118.

But that’s probably not the number Morris and offensive coordinator Joe Craddock are looking at.

Storey put up 38 points, the defense had a first-quarter score and Kelley put 10 points on the board.

And that, ultimately, is why Storey will probably move to the front this week.

For how long is still to be determined.

 

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