Bercovici bounces back

For all the accolades and the attention Taft quarterback Michael Bercovici receives it's easy to forget that he hasn't started a game prior to this 2010 campaign. His season debut was forgettable but his second game of the year was a memory that will last a lifetime. Devils Digest caught up with the ASU pledge to talk about his performance last week and get his thoughts on the ASU-Wisconsin game.

In his first ever varsity start Michael Bercovici was 17 of 31 for 155 and two interceptions, as Taft fell to Dorsey 37-24.

"Definitely had the first game jitters," Bercovici admitted. "It was the first time I played a real game of football in a whole year. I didn't feel too confident in the pocket as I did in the second game. I needed to put the ball in a better spot but I was nervous. The whole team just didn't play a good game."

In his second game with the Toreadors from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Bercovici had a remarkable performance. The signal caller completed 31 of 46 passes for a school record 460 yards as Taft beat Notre Dame 38-35. Bercovici threw for three touchdowns and no interceptions.

"It was by far the best game I ever played," Bercovici stated. "Any play we called from our playbook worked and our receivers were just that much more confident. Everybody was just making plays there and I took what the defense gave me.

"It was the most fun I ever had because our offense was clicking."

The Taft quarterback was able to keep his poise even when his team trailed 14-0 in 1st quarter.

"We kept putting ourselves in these holes to start the game," Bercovici recalled. "I really believe the team looks at me to be the guy that will pick them up. I just knew the way I was throwing that it was just a matter of time until our offense was going to click. I just put it on myself to keep moving the ball and keep the defense on the sidelines.

"Running no huddle I wanted to tire the Notre Dame defense out and keep our offensive linemen encouraged. We were able to get a touchdown right before the half and that really helped us a lot in the second half."

Sun Devil fans may recall the firestorm on Internet message boards that former ASU QB Rudy Carpenter caused when he transferred from Newbury Park (Calif.) to Westlake (Calif.), which included some harsh condemnation.

Ironically, Bercovici has endured the same criticism when he transferred from Westlake to Taft. Needless to say that this disapproval from the Westlake fans is over the fact that they were frustrated to lose such a talented quarterback.

"I try to stay away from that stuff as much as possible," Bercovici said. "But there is also a part of me that wants to see what people are saying. My family tells me that if I'm not talked about it's not a good thing. I don't want to make it a personal battle because it's really about the team and wanting to win a city championship this year.

"But what people say about me really fuels me. It gives me a chip on my shoulder and I think that every great player plays with a chip on their shoulder. It really motivated me all summer to work hard and prove myself on the field. It doesn't hurt to have haters out there because I believe it can really make you a better player. I'm just gonna keep on doing my thing and be the best player and the best teammate I can be."

Some of the disparagement pointed at Bercovici has gotten even more personal than just his sheer football skills, claiming that the quarterback is too short and overweight to play the position. This is a claim that Bercovici is more than happy to set the record straight on.

"I'm legitimately 6-2. That's how tall my dad is and I see eye to eye with him," Bercovici said. "I weigh 205 lbs. Over the summer I realized that I have to work on my body structure to be an elite quarterback. I was competing over the summer with quarterbacks who had better size and better stats than me. I felt that when I had better performances than them in camp people had to find something wrong with me so then they talked about how I was 6-1 or 6-0. They needed to give strength and a weakness and that was my weakness.

"We have one the biggest offense lines in high school. We have three kids that are 6-4 and one who is 6-7. I take pride throwing through ‘windows' and being able watching quarterbacks like Drew Brees who 6-0 tall and see how he plays. It's really about footwork and getting the ball out quick with a high release point. I'm going to work on my body before I get to college and I can't wait to get into college and work every single day even more on my body."

Very few players have had such a productive camp and combine season as Bercovici, and in fact it was his performance in Arizona State's camp that led to a quick offer from the Sun Devils and a commitment from the Taft signal caller just days later.

Bercovici's pledge naturally opened the eyes of other possible suitors, but the quarterback assured that he will keep his commitment to the maroon and gold.

"I've been twice to ASU and I just fallen in love with the place," Bercovici remarked. "I watched very ASU game this year and have been salivating watching coach Mazzone exposing these defenses. My sister goes to ASU, it's the closest Pac-10 (that is recruiting him) to home and it feels like home. I visited tons of schools in the summer and there is no other school I rather be at.

"I can't wait to start working with coach Erickson and coach Mazzone. They are the most honest coaches that I have ever met and the fact that they pulled the trigger on me after that camp and didn't wait to see how I do my senior season like other coaches wanted to, showed that they really believed in me. I know I have a great opportunity to come into ASU, learn that offense and hopefully become an impact player as quickly as I can."

While the ASU offense performed well in its first two games against Portland State and NAU, Bercovici was naturally even more impressed with the offensive display the team had versus the 11th ranked Wisconsin Badgers yesterday.

"I thought Steven Threet played an outstanding game," Bercovici commented. "He looked so poised in there. I'm already learning from him and he's looks so relaxed and reminds me of how I am when I play. He looked like he trusted the offense and the offensive line didn't have any problems with the big Wisconsin defensive line. There were some missed opportunities, bad calls like the pass interference in the end zone. Special teams really helped give the offense good field position.

"When I was watching the game ASU looked like the better team all around. The offense exposed the defense and spread them out. I was very happy to see that because Wisconsin didn't physically dominate like some reporters say they would before the game. It's unfortunate that the game had to end that way on the blocked PAT. If that game goes into overtime ASU wins that game."

Bercovici and his parents are scheduled to be in Tempe this weekend for the Oregon contest, and it is unclear if he will come here as part of an official or unofficial visit.

"I've been talking to some guys like Antwaun Woods to all come to ASU on one big official visit," Bercovici explained, "and some other players are supposed to visit as well."

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