Arizona State’s Mike Bercovici hopes for another big day against USC
Mike Bercovici did more than beat USC with a Hail Mary pass last season.
Arizona State’s quarterback torched the Trojans for 510 yards passing and five touchdowns in the Sun Devils’ 38-34 victory at the Coliseum.
And Bercovici did that as a fill-in for injured starter Taylor Kelly.
Bercovici is the starter this season and off to a strong start. He has passed for 799 yards and seven touchdowns, with one interception, for a team that hosts No. 19 USC on Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium.
“No one needs a pregame speech for this week,” Bercovici told reporters Monday in Arizona.
Arizona State lost to Texas A&M in its opener and struggled before defeating Cal Poly.
Last Friday, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Bercovici passed for 317 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-10 victory over New Mexico.
“The biggest thing is that it’s exciting to turn on the film and know that we have the capabilities of making big plays,” he said, “and it’s just going to be more exciting as the weeks go on to see how we develop.”
Bercovici, a fifth-year senior from Calabasas, is well acquainted with the Trojans. USC defensive lineman Antwaun Woods was a teammate at Woodland Hills Taft High.
“For anybody, especially Southern California kids that commit to ASU, you know that game is automatically circled on your schedule,” Bercovici said of playing USC. “But it’s exciting. I think we’ve done well against the Trojans in the past, but that doesn’t matter because this is a completely different year.”
It has also been a bit different for Bercovici.
He rushed for an eight-yard touchdown against New Mexico. If he continues to show a willingness to run with the ball from the pocket or on read-option plays, it could be a problem for a Trojans defense that failed to contain Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan in last week’s 41-31 defeat.
Bercovici said that Sun Devils Coach Todd Graham has emphasized the need for quarterbacks to utilize their running ability to make plays.
“If they don’t account for the quarterback,” Bercovici said, “you’ve just got to make ‘em hurt.”
Said Graham: “I don’t think Mike is an option-style quarterback. He’s a run, play-action pass guy that can utilize his legs…. The big thing is just taking what they give you. If they cover everybody and you can run with the ball, run with the ball.”
USC Coach Steve Sarkisian saw enough of Bercovici last season and on film to know the problems he can cause a defense.
“He can let it rip,” Sarkisian told USC’s website during his weekly video, “and he’s sneaky athletic.”
USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster ranks third nationally with 434 yards receiving. The sophomore is averaging 144.7 yards receiving per game, which ranks fifth nationally, and 7.3 catches per game, tied for 10th. ...Quarterback Cody Kessler fell from second to third nationally in passing efficiency. He has passed for 922 yards and 10 touchdowns without an interception.
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