There will be no quarterback controversy at Arizona State when Taylor Kelly is healthy. He is the starter.
Sun Devils head coach Todd Graham made this point very clear Friday morning when he was a guest for Doug & Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Backup quarterback Mike Bercovici has impressed as the starter while Kelly recovers from a foot injury. Through his two starts, the redshirt junior is averaging nearly 500 passing yards per game, and threw five touchdowns in an upset win at USC on Oct. 4.
With Kelly’s status still in doubt for Saturday’s game against 23rd ranked Stanford, there is a definite possibility that Bercovici starts, and posts some more gaudy numbers similar to what he’s done so far. Still, if Bercovici could light up a top ranked Stanford defense for the sum of 500 yards and four or five touchdowns, would Graham have a decision to make?
“Zero decision. I’ve won 20-something ball games with Taylor Kelly,” said Graham. “Truly, I believe that Taylor is one of the best that I’ve coached when it comes to intangibles, the winning and just how he goes about doing things. He’s the guy and he’s earned that, and our respect.”
Both quarterbacks have impressed in different areas through ASU’s five games. Bercovici has led much more of an aerial attack for the Sun Devils, throwing for 1,077 yards and nine touchdowns. Kelly represents more of a dual-threat for the team, throwing for six touchdowns, and adding 168 yards and two scores on the ground.
But rather than touchdowns and yards, it’s ball protection that stands out most to Graham, and that is the area where Kelly sets himself apart.
Kelly has no interceptions this season, only losing one fumble. Bercovici struggled with turnovers in the team’s lone loss of the season, throwing two interceptions and losing one fumble in a 62-27 defeat to UCLA.
“[Bercovici] was impressive in both games, throwing the ball, but the difference is, in game two, he didn’t turn the football over,” said Graham. “That’s the key for us. That’s what that experience Taylor provides and what Taylor’s meant.”
Arizona State’s game against Stanford starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, and can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.