TEMPE, Ariz. — It’s been a long four-year wait, including one redshirt year.
But now, finally, Mike Bercovici’s time has come.
As the new starting quarterback for Arizona State, it’s his offense; and as a fifth-year senior, it’s his team.
As simplistic as it may sound, it’s not out of the question to believe that as Bercovici goes, so go the Sun Devils in 2015.
That’s why now and the next four weeks are so important to what happens in the fall.
Monday, ASU opened spring practice and Bercovici took all the first-team reps.
“You could tell he has a great command of what he’s doing,” head coach Todd Graham said.
Bercovici had been a spectator since he arrived on campus, first backing up Brock Osweiler in 2011 and then as the No. 2 behind Taylor Kelly each of the past three seasons.
All the while, Bercovici stayed patient, staying true to his commitment. That patience is paying off, finally.
“I couldn’t be more blessed for an opportunity like this,” he said.
And on day one, Bercovici didn’t disappoint.
According to Graham, his starting quarterback did not turn the ball over once, something Graham expects from his signal callers.
“I just like his demeanor. He’s matured so much as a leader,” said Graham, entering his fourth season at ASU. “We had 100 percent ball security today, didn’t put the ball in jeopardy. We had a few sacks, but I thought at least one of them was a pretty smart one.
“I’ve told him, ‘Hey, your deal is 100 percent ball security and hit the check-down.’ He can really throw the football and does some pretty impressive things with it. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Mike.”
Though he had done it before, albeit briefly, Bercovici admitted leading the first-team offense as the No. 1 quarterback felt different.
“I just feel more confident in myself and having the game experience under my belt going into spring ball; it’s just exciting to be in his position right now,” he said.
Bercovici made three starts last season, filling in for an injured Kelly. He went 2-1 with back-to-back wins over USC and Stanford. His numbers — 1,243 yards with nine touchdowns and two interceptions — had many clamoring for him to remain the starter. Bercovici though, without hesitation, backed Graham’s decision to go back to Kelly.
It wasn’t his job to take, Bercovici told anyone who asked.
Months later the job is clearly his.
“Mike provides us more with that rhythm passing game,” Graham said, adding about practice, “you seen a lot of ‘bang 8s’ today, we call really the short, quick post. There were more explosive plays in day one with guys catching a five-yard pass and taking it to the house.”
That should excite fans.
What excited Bercovici after the first practice was the depth, especially along the offensive line and at the running back and wide receiver positions.
“It’s exciting to play quarterback right now,” he said.
And as quarterback, Bercovici knows he’s not just leading the offense, but the entire team.
“I’ve been using a little phrase, controlled intensity,” he said. “I think, if anybody knows me, I’m a real intense guy. I’m wired 24/7, but the controlled intensity to know that from the defense to the offense to the special teams unit, when you can look at the quarterback, you can be confident in looking at that guy. So, that’s what I’ve just been trying to do, just make 100 other people better…once I step on this field, especially that offensive unit.”
There are 14 more practices ahead of the spring game April 10, each just as important as the previous one.
Bercovici won’t waste any of his time on the field
“You can always get better in your footwork,” he said, referring to his personal focus this spring. “You ask guys like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, they’re not guys that are running around everywhere, but their footwork is something that is very precious to them. And from all the type of different footworks that we have, I want to be able to dominate that because even being in it for five years, I can always get better every single day.
“That was a big thing for me today is that when I step out here, every rep is a championship rep. It’s got to be, USC at home, Pac-12 South on the line and that’s the type of urgency that I have every rep.”