D.J. Foster, Jordan Simone: Mike Bercovici is ready

Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Bercovici takes the snap during a play at a scrimmage on Aug. 16. (Photo by Mario Mendez) Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Bercovici takes the snap during a play at a scrimmage on Aug. 16. (Photo by Mario Mendez)

With ASU redshirt senior quarterback Taylor Kelly ruled out for the Sept. 25 home game against UCLA, some fans already doubt redshirt junior Mike Bercovici as a viable replacement for such a critical game.

If there’s anyone that can prove Bercovici is ready, it’s two of his roommates — junior running back D.J. Foster and redshirt junior safety Jordan Simone.

“It sucks for TK, but I don’t think there is a better backup that could come and replace him,” Simone said.

Foster has been close friends with Bercovici since his freshman season and gave him a strong endorsement after Thursday’s practice.

“Just to see his maturity, he’s always been a great leader and it’s crazy,” Foster said. “People don’t see our stuff during our summer workouts, and he’s been a leader since he’s been here.”

Simone’s description on Bercovici was similar.

“High intensity, really strong leader,” Simone said. “He just gets after it. … He’s one of those guys that, before TK, he broke down film with me and told me what quarterbacks are reading what and he’s always been a huge help.”

As roommates, Bercovici, Simone and Foster share a special relationship. During a television interview on Thursday, Simone and Bercovici teased Foster for showering with bath salts at home and his skill playing the “FIFA” video game series. This all went on while Foster stood a few yards away chatting with coach Todd Graham.

“I can beat [Bercovici] up,” Simone said with a laugh.

But this week, Bercovici has been more focused than ever since the team named him as next week’s starter. It’s just as prevalent even away from the practice field.

“”You can tell in his eyes that he’s hungry,” Foster said. “I can see the true excitement in him. I think he’s been waiting for this chance for a long time, and I think he’s excited. He’s going to show people a lot of great things.”

Simone sees it, too, giving him an obligation to encourage Bercovici at home.

“He’s been prepared,” Simone said. “Preparation leads to success, and we’ve been on him about it. We don’t really need to be on him about, but we give him a hard time of course because he’s been here for four years and his name’s called. I’m excited for him.”

Graham keeping ASU in check for UCLA

All week, Graham has been coaching his team hard. He’s been yelling as loud as ever and has been holding the team much longer than usual during their post-practice huddles.

Graham knows how that the Sept. 25 game against UCLA could potentially decide the Pac-12 South champion, and he’s been calling on his players to reflect on their careers throughout the week.

“I said, ‘Think about all of the kids you played high school football with — what they would give to play in a Thursday night game of the week.’ Sheesh,” Graham said. “I love it. I absolutely love it. There’s nothing like that.”

When asked if he’s been paying attention to the recent NFL scandals, Graham said he constantly teaches his players to show exemplary behavior off the field through meetings. The team has several minimum expectations that include going to class, being respectful to others and not getting arrested. Graham also teaches a “word of the day” that reflects on character.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on is being proactive,” Graham said. “It’s a different day and time. They’re under such a huge microscope. … We’re going to have accountability.”

2014 season in photos

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Reach the reporter at jnacion@asu.edu or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion

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