Bercovici showing no rust after redshirt year

There's no question that quarterback Mike Bercovici has been one of Arizona State's spring practice's standouts. Arguably the purest thrower of the unit, the sophomore who redshirted last year, has been pushing incumbent Taylor Kelly for the starting spot on this 2013 Sun Devil squad.

Coming into last year's Fall camp, Mike Bercovici was believed to the top signal caller for Arizona State, and was expected to be eventually being named as the season's starter. However, he was beat out by Taylor Kelly and later during camp he learned that he was going to redshirt the 2012 campaign.

When asked if there were any thoughts of transferring at all, Bercovici said, "No, I'm a Sun Devil and have been ever since Coach (Dennis) Erickson offered me."

Remaining on the team has appeared to have benefitted the former Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft High School standout as he is enjoying a solid spring, and admittedly entering this year with the proverbial chip on his shoulder.

"I'm competing like a starting quarterback, that's what (the coaches) said after the (2012) season," Bercovici said. "I feel like I can compete for the starting job so that's been my mindset ever since I stepped on this field as a 17-year old.

"Coach Graham told me after the season that if I do everything to show them that I'm the best quarterback or the best player available to play, then I'll play."

Head Coach Todd Graham has definitely taken notice of his quarterback's elevated play. Following the team's first spring scrimmage last Saturday; the Sun Devil skipper stated that Bercovici had "an unbelievable day."

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During the off-season the ASU coaches met with the Clemson coaching staff to discuss their respective offenses and particularly the pistol formation. Popularized by the now retired Nevada head coach Chris Ault, the pistol is considered the best of both worlds in terms of the shotgun passing attack and the downhill running of a single back under center look.

"It's interesting," Bercovici commented. "I didn't come here to run the pistol but I just do anything that they coaches say and put my full effort into it."

The pistol features numerous wrinkles much like the read option that ASU employs, and the Sun Devils have clearly been utilizing the mobility of their quarterbacks to enhance their offense. This is a trait that initially wasn't one of Bercovici's strong suits, yet it's an attribute he said he worked religiously on over the winter.

"I took this offseason to really work as hard as I can," Bercovici described, "cut some weight and get faster."

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Whether it's running or throwing, Bercovici has excelled in recent weeks, despite receiving little to no help from the wide receivers who have struggled often throughout spring.

"I love them all," Bercovici said. "I have a passion for working with wide receivers, but basically I'm just putting the ball anywhere where it can be glued to their chest. If they can't catch it then we have got to get someone here that can."

One player who has been snatching seemingly any ball that has come his way is junior running back Deantre Lewis. In recent sessions Bercovici and Lewis have connected on multiple instances for big gains, let alone scores.

"I saw D-Lew against Oregon live and it was incredible," Bercovici recalled the running back's 2010 freshman year, "and it's finally nice to see him back at that type of speed. He's just the type of guy that can catch the ball, run the ball and he can do everything that you ask, and especially on a series when he's getting those 30-yard plays.

"It's just confidence when you have him in the backfield."

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Another emerging story this spring has been the surprising play from walk-on wide receiver Freddy Gammage out of Phoenix's Brophy Prep. Gammage has been a consistent threat on the second team offense and is elusive with the ball in his hands out in space.

Bercovici confessed that he has a soft spot in his heart for walk-ons like Gammage and said that they are some of the greatest guys on the team, as he can attest being roommates with backup walk-on kicker Parker Flynn.

"Fred is like Lynn Swann out there, he has an incredible ability to dive and catch the ball," Bercovici said. "I hope that he can put on a little weight and get his plays down because I really think that he can have a chance to play this year."

If Bercovici continues at his spring pace, it would be hard to imagine him not getting his opportunities as well to play this year.


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