Offense heats up spring game

The first spring camp of the Coach Graham era came to an end Saturday afternoon as the team participated in its annual spring game at Sun Devil Stadium. Fans brave enough to bear the scorching sun were treated to a high scoring contest as the offense tallied 837 total yards and producing seven touchdowns, as the new high-octane Arizona State attack was in full force.

 

Entering the day, most of the attention surrounding the scrimmage was centered around the ongoing quarterback battle as all three Sun Devil QB's have shown moments of promise throughout camp, with none, however, stepping up to assert themselves as the front runner.

"I was really impressed with all three guys at quarterback," said Head Coach Todd Graham.

Sophomore Mike Bercovici led the first team offense on their initial drive, which started strong before eventually stalling. It was one of the few drives in which the Sun Devil offense failed to score as they quickly found their stride after that.

Taylor Kelly got the scoring started for the Sun Devils as he took over at quarterback on the second drive of the day, wasting very little time making an impression on the fans after sitting out most of Thursday's practice with soreness.

On Kelly's very first play, he found Deantre Lewis for a 20 yard completion up the sideline before taking it in himself for a 43 yard rushing touchdown on the very next play from scrimmage. Kelly was by far the most efficient quarterback throwing the ball on Saturday, as he completed 10 of his 12 passes for 116 yards. He later connected with sophomore wide receiver Gary Chambers for a 48 yard touchdown, his only passing score of the day.

"It went really well," said Kelly of his spring game performance. "It was a good spring and a good spring game so I'm happy. I feel good going out of spring; I feel good. I still have a lot of improvements to make during the off season but I just have to keep working hard and see how things go for fall camp."

Kelly punctuated his second drive with another rushing touchdown, this time from 6 yards out after an apparent botched handoff. He paced the Sun Devil offense with both his arm and his feet, as he collected 77 yards on the ground to go along with his two scores.

Seemingly, Kelly's mistake on the day was an interception late in the scrimmage by Jason Franklin.

Redshirt freshman Michael Eubank, who started the offseason camp strong before stumbling in recent weeks, appeared to regain his form as he turned in one of his more solid performances as of late. Despite going three and out on his first drive and misfiring on 3 of his first 4 pass attempts, he still managed to complete 8-15 passes and had a team high 180 yards to go along with three passing touchdowns.

Perhaps most impressively for Eubank was the fact that he did not commit a single turnover, opting to run the ball more rather than forcing errant throws. He rushed seven times for 60 yards, including one scoring run from 17 yards out where he carried three Sun Devil defenders into the end zone with him the last five or so yards.

Bercovici demonstrated a strong command of the new Sun Devil offense as he went 11-22 for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the scrimmage. He hooked up with J.J. Holliday, who had 4 catches for 72 yards, a number of times, and looked comfortable in control. On his second drive of the day, Bercovici found Jamal Miles for a 9-yard score, one of two receiving touchdowns for Miles as he caught seven total passes for 101 yards.

Miles, who had arguably the most consistent spring of anyone on the team, was by far the most versatile and effective player on the field Saturday, showing just why he is so important to this Arizona State offense. Aside from his impressive receiving stats, he also managed to rush for 41 yards on 4 carries and had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

"I think I did pretty well this spring; I came out more focused than I have been the past few weeks and I was just concentrating on catching the ball," said Miles. "After that, I just used my natural abilities and did what I had to do. I would say this is the best spring game I've ever had as well as the whole spring, I feel like I did pretty well this year."

Rashad Ross, who, with his record-breaking speed, looks to be the team's best deep threat option right now heading into the 2012 season, got into the action early and often on Saturday as well. He was on the receiving end of Michael Eubank's first passing score, a 54-yard strike, as he left the defense in the dust. Ross also went over the middle for a number of shorter gains. For the afternoon he posted five receptions for 67 yards and the one touchdown.

Another pleasant sight for Sun Devil fans was the play of tight end Darwin Rogers. The non-existence of the tight end position in the ASU offense in recent years has drawn the ire of many, but Rogers looks to be becoming more of a go-to figure these days. Saturday he collected a pair of catches for 35, the second of which was 21 yard score as the team practiced overtime scenarios.

The Sun Devil passing game was the only form of excitement though on Saturday as the running backs continued their impressive play, running behind the ever-improving offensive line.

James Morrison, who has performed better than most could have expected this offseason, also continued his recent string of good play. The first team running back, who has benefitted the most from the injuries to Cameron Marshall and Kyle Middlebrooks, collected 81 yards on 13 carries while also rushing for a touchdown. He also 5 receptions for 5 yards.

"Morrison had an incredible spring," Graham noted.

Redshirt sophomore Deantre Lewis, who entered spring camp as one of the bigger question marks offensively for the Sun Devils after missing the last year due to a gunshot wound, looks to be regaining more of his old form. The speedy back, who has shown a nose for being able to run between the tackles more this spring than he did as a freshman, picked up 64 yards on the ground on only seven carries along with his lone reception of 20 yards.

Walk-on R.J. Robinson also chipped in with 6 carries for 28 yards.

Overall, the Sun Devils racked up 369 rushing yards on 53 carries, just a shade under seven yards per run attempt.

On defense walk-on cornerback Ronald Kennedy paced all players with seven tackles and a pass breakup. Walk-on linebackers Brandon Johnson and Grandville Taylor, as well as cornerback each Osahon Irabor had five tackles and a pass break up, with Taylor also collecting a sack.

Kicker Alex Garoutte made his lone field goal attempt from 35 yards, converted all nine of his point after attempts and caught a pass from Bercovici for a two-point conversion.

"We got a lot or work to do to get into shape mentally and physically," Graham admitted, "but I was real impressed. I wanted it to be fun and exciting today and it was. It was a good spring.

Spring Game Stats (unofficial)

Passing:

Mike Bercovici: 11-22, 117 yards, 2 TD's

Taylor Kelly: 10-12, 116 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Michael Eubank: 8-15, 180 yards, 3 TD's

Danny Lewis: 5-8, 55 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Total: 34-57, 468 yards, 7 TD's, 2 INT's

Receiving:

Jamal Miles: 7 receptions, 101 yards, 2 TD's

Rashad Ross: 5 receptions, 67 yards, 1 TD

JJ Holliday: 4 receptions, 72 yards

Kevin Ozier: 1 reception, 40 yards

Gary Chambers: 1 reception, 48 yards, 1 TD

Marcus Washington: 1 reception, 12 yards

Darwin Rogers: 2 receptions, 35 yards, 1 TD

James Morrison: 2 receptions, 5 yards

Deantre Lewis: 1 reception, 20 yards

RJ Robinson: 1 reception, 9 yards

Max Smith: 2 receptions, 13 yards, 1 TD

Daniel Masifilo: 3 receptions, 10 yards

Alex Bykovsky: 1 reception, 8 yards

#86(?): 1 reception, 15 yards

Tevin Favor: 1 reception, 12 yards, 1 TD

Total: 34 receptions, 468 yards, 7 TD's

Rushing:

Morrison: 13 carries, 82 yards, 1 TD

Deantre Lewis: 7 carries, 64 yards

Robinson: 6 carries, 28 yards

Bercovici: 4 carries, -12 yards

Eubank: 7 carries, 60 yards, 1 TD

Kelly: 10 carries, 77 yards, 2 TD's

Miles: 4 carries, 41 yards

Danny Lewis: 2 carries, 29 yards

Total: 53 carries, 369 yards, 4 TD's

Defense/Special Teams

Ronald Kennedy, Jr.: 7 tackles, PBU

Brandon Johnson: 5 tackles, TFL, PBU

Grandville Taylor: 5 tackles, sack

Osahon Irabor: 5 tackles, PBU

Carl Bradford: 4 tackles, sack

Isreal Marshall: 4 tackles

Matt Tucker: 4 tackles, TFL

Alden Darby: 4 tackles, PBU

Jason Franklin: 3 tackles, INT

Joe Eason: 3 tackles, INT

Mike Ingrassia: 3 tackles, PBU

Deveron Carr: 3 tackles, TFL

Derrick Nsubuga: 3 tackles

Corey Adams: 3 tackles, 2 TFL, sack

Shane McCullen: 3 tackles

Will Sutton: 2 tackles, TFL

Anthony Jones: 2 tackles

Charles Beatty: 2 tackles

Jordan McDonald: 2 tackles

Davon Coleman: 1 tackle

Rashad Wadood: 1 tackle, TFL

Keelan Johnson: 1 tackle

Zach Stewart: 1 tackle

Toa Tuitea: 1 tackle

Alex Garoutte 1-1 FG (35), 9-9 PATs and he also caught a 2-point conversation pass from Bercovici

Jamal Miles: 97-yard KOR TD

Joe Healey and Maggie Walsh contributed to this report


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