Quarterback position unclear after first scrimmage

Mike Bercovici throws a pass in ASU’s scrimmage at Sun Devil Stadium Saturday. Bercovici is one of three quarterbacks competing for the starting position. (Photo by Sam Rosenbaum)

Each quarterback had his fair share of highs and lows during Saturday’s scrimmage, but it’s clear there is plenty of work left to do for sophomore Mike Bercovici, redshirt freshman Michael Eubank and redshirt sophomore Taylor Kelly.

The offense was simplified to work on in-game situations rather than stressing technique as the coaches have done in practice. Even the coaches were in position similar to a regular season game. Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell was in the coaches’ booth while wide receivers coach DelVaughn Alexander manned the offense from the sidelines.

Even with a real-game setup, the quarterbacks still have work to do adjusting to the new offensive scheme under coach Todd Graham, and it showed early in the scrimmage.

Bercovici trotted on the field for the first series and went three and out. Eubank and Kelly followed suit on their first drives during the scrimmage.

“The main bad thing is just inexperience,” Graham said. “They don’t have any experience, and the experience that they have is in a different offense.”

Eubank had the best day out of the trio. Unofficially, he completed 9 of 18 passes for 115 yards. He hooked up with junior wide receiver Kevin Ozier for two of his three touchdowns.

“I want to show people that not only can I run the ball, but I can throw at the same time,” Eubank said.

The redshirt freshman was fortunate to walk away from Saturday’s scrimmage with just one interception. The defense missed multiple opportunities to create turnovers on pass attempts. Two of Eubank’s passes were nearly intercepted before junior safety Alden Darby snagged a pass intended for junior wide receiver Kyle Middlebrooks.

“There’s going to be some bad reads by the secondary in the game too,” Eubank said. “I’m taking full advantage of it if they give it to me.”

Bercovici also escaped with just one interception, but it came during his final drive. Redshirt junior cornerback Robert Nelson picked off Bercovici on the first play of a simulated two-minute drill.

The interception occurred on the series after Bercovici threw his only touchdown. He connected with redshirt sophomore running back Marcus Washington for a 25-yard touchdown on the first play in a simulated triple-overtime drill. Bercovici finished 8-for-15 for 85 yards.

“For a first scrimmage, you get those first-game jitters,” Bercovici said. “You’re in uniform, you’re uncomfortable (and) you second-guess the board sometimes with signaling, but I felt like I did a good job.”

Although Bercovici felt the scrimmage went smooth with the simplicity of the offense, he wasn’t pleased with his pocket presence. He was upset with the way he stepped up in the pocket. Bercovici said he didn’t give himself enough depth and it’s something he noticed on the sidelines when Eubank and Kelly were on the field.

“Sometimes we had it blocked, but I stepped up into the blitz and I messed up myself without having an opportunity to throw the ball down the field,” Bercovici said.

Kelly was the only quarterback without a touchdown in the scrimmage, but his ability to run the zone read still makes him a threat in the wide open quarterback competition. Kelly was sacked just once, the fewest among the quarterbacks. He threw for 72 yards on 8-for-14, unofficially. Kelly also threw an interception to redshirt junior cornerback Osahon Irabor.

“I thought it was a (normal) first scrimmage,” Graham said. “It gives us an idea of where we’re at and where we’ve got to go from here. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

 

Reach the reporter at mtesfats@asu.edu

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