BURBANK, Calif. -- ASU football will feature some fresh faces on offensive, specifically in the receiving corps, but redshirt senior quarterback Mike Bercovici is confident the team will maintain the explosiveness it showed last season.
The Sun Devils lost star receiver Jaelen Strong, who was the third-round draft pick of the Houston Texans, as well as Cameron Smith, who had breakout 2014 season but is out for all of 2015 after suffering a leg injury.
"We have guys that can really take one-yard passes 99 yards and as a quarterback, it's fun to have those types of explosive players," Bercovici said at Pac-12 Media Days Thursday. "D.J. Foster stepping up is huge and Devin Lucien, who obviously has a lot of game experience and is a high-character guy who has a chip on his shoulder.
"Another one of my roommates Ellis Jefferson, he's a mismatch in the slot. He's about 6-foot-5, runs like the wind. We have so much depth and have guys who care about each other. Everyone wants to see each other succeed."
He also said the Sun Devils showed that questioned depth in the Sun Bowl win over Duke, with the biggest example being then-freshman running back Demario Richard, who scored four touchdowns in the win. Now, the sophomore will be important in leading a backfield that lost Foster, who is transitioning to receiver.
"There's no time anymore to be the young guy for (Richard)," Bercovici said. "If you ask a lot of the linemen, he's one of the smartest players that we have on our football team, whether it be on protections or eight-yard runs. He's somebody that can ground and pound and get those types of smart plays."
ASU will also be tasked with replacing offensive tackle Jamil Douglas, who was selected in the fourth round of the draft by the Miami Dolphins. Still, Bercovici said he has already started building relationships with this year's offensive line.
"I truly love those guys and they have that same respect for me," he said. "We have a pretty solid foundation from last year coming back with Nick Kelly at center...we have two new guys...there are also young guys that we love and we're pushing them to make them better. We want to be the best offensive line group in the country."
With ASU playing tough opponents like Texas A&M, USC and Oregon, Bercovici said the fun of those games goes deeper than just the cool uniforms or rowdy crowds.
"We know when it comes to that point, we're fighting for a national championship," he said. "But it always is fun to play (top) opponents, especially if it's a team who's done what we're trying to do, like get to the College Football Playoff."
ASU head coach Todd Graham said there isn't a Pac-12 team that can't beat a conference opponent.
"Last year, we thought we were through the meat of the conference and we lost a couple of games we were picked to win," Graham said. "You have to play an entire season -- obviously one of the toughest things about the Pac-12 South is that you have to stay healthy. The depth we have this year will help us because that hurt us down the stretch last year."
Even with the questions and tough schedule, the ASU's urgency is at its highest point.
"We're playing for a National Championship right now in our heads every single day, whether that be in the film room, the weight room, or on the field," Bercovici said.
Reach the reporter at Justin.Toscano@asu.edu or on Twitter @justintoscano3