Bercovici looking to seize his opportunity

When Mike Bercovici officially joined the Sun Devils, he was ASU's fifth scholarship quarterback and destined to redshirt in the 2011 campaign. With two signal callers leaving the program earlier this year coupled with a productive off-season thus far, the former Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft standout finds himself with a realistic chance to contribute as a true freshman for the maroon and gold.

In the first few sessions of spring practice, the 6-2 210 Mike Bercovici has generally shown a quick release, remarkable arm strength and overall looking seldom as a quarterback getting his first taste of Division I football.

"I am feeling great being in a Pac-12 program," Bercovici said. "There is lots of intensity, lots of learning but I see myself getting better. The speed of practice and doing QB drills for two and half hours with coaches right there with you every step is very different than high school. That was the biggest thing that hit me letting me know I wasn't in high school anymore."

As a mid-year transfer Bercovici not only enrolled in school in January, but also got to participate in the team's winter conditioning program and joined his teammates for informal practices that are proving invaluable for him these days.

"Even though it's different because there are no coaches around you and the pace isn't like practice," said Bercovici of those informal practices, "it does still help you understand the basics even though it barely scratches the surface of what practice is like. They (informal practices) helped me with the timing with the wide receivers and learning how they run their routes."

The work that Bercovici is putting in the film room is another imperative aspect of his development.

"Everything we do out here is based on what we see on film," Bercovici explained. "Before each play I try and picture what we learned in the film room before practice. Stuff like watching the flow of the linebackers, players covering certain routes…and then you try and visualize that stuff when you get your reps in practice.

"The film of watching myself helps me so much because during practice you know what you're going to see, how the defense is going to align and what they are going to throw at us. We feel that we are prepared at anything they would throw at us. Those meetings are long but we can't do without them."

Throughout the process the true freshman signal caller is realizing more and more how much Arizona State's offensive system is suiting his skills.

"I watched so much film of the quarterbacks here and also the quarterback from Houston Case Keenum," Bercovici stated, "and when I visualize myself in their shoes it fits perfectly. We run a lot of inside zone and spread, but it isn't exactly a zone read. We get the ball to the perimeter using a quick release and I honestly I don't think that there is a better offense for me.

"It's really simple even though there is a lot of terminology. When you get down to it it's all about pretty simple reads, never holding onto the ball too long and those are my strengths."

When watching ASU's quarterbacks in action last season, Bercovici naturally got a healthy dose of Steven Threet's exploits. Threet, who started all but one game last year had to retire from the sport because of post-concussion syndrome and is spending spring practice in a capacity of a student coach, which has greatly benefited the young quarterback.

"Big Steve has been awesome for me," Bercovici acknowledged. "I'm always in his ear when he calls signals on the sidelines and he's great to talk to because he has done it for one year and he is really smart. I see a lot of myself in him and he's fun to be around. He's really on top of what we are trying to do as quarterbacks and just being around the program he's making all the quarterbacks better. He's like the starting quarterback talking to you with no stress and no pressure."

With four spring practices in the books, Bercovici described his performance thus far as "solid" but admitted that he definitely could improve on several aspects of his game.

"I know I can do better with more repetitions and just feeling the flow of the offense more," Bercovici explained. "I need to be more composed. I am trying to move quickly like it's a two-minute offense when it (spring) is really time to learn and make myself more comfortable and slow the game down.

"I also need to keep my eyes up more and not be so pre-determined so I won't have bad throws and costly turnovers. We preach limiting turnovers because that will change a ball game."

When the 2011 season begins, Bercovici could well be Brock Osweiler's backup which is something that could certainly create added pressure for him in the spring. Yet, the true freshman is already his own worst critic and regardless of how the depth chart was going to manifest itself when he arrived in Tempe, Bercovici was already going to push himself as if he was battling for the starter position.

"You feel pressure from the program that they need to have a solid backup but like I said I am preparing myself like I'm starting that opening game," Bercovici said. "I'm not that comfortable with how I am performing yet because I know I can do better. I need to continue reviewing the practice film, thinking how I can improve my performance to help the program. That will relive that pressure and I will make it happen."

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