Arizona State quarterback Mike Bercovici isn’t Tom Brady, but that doesn’t really matter.
Bercovici primarily played in four games last season, and the Sun Devils finished 2-2 in those contests. However, head coach Todd Graham is prepared to change the team’s offense to fit his new signal-caller’s strengths.
“We have a quarterback that’s fixing to be able to do things that we’ve never really been able to do,” Graham told AZCentral.com’s Doug Haller.
Graham’s ideal offense is an up-tempo system operating a breakneck pace. The next step is fashioning its passing attack after the reigning Super Bowl champions, the New England Patriots. Graham will mold a quick-passing attack around Bercovici.
“What we want to see is – 1, 2, ball’s out on 3,” Graham said.
“Getting people off of you is what they do with their quick passing game, and we’ve got a guy who has a lightening release. I mean, this guy can throw the football. We’re obviously adapting everything to that.”
Graham may be building around Bercovici, but tight end Kody Kohl and wide receivers Cameron Smith and Gary Chambers will benefit the most from the shift in philosophy.
Arizona State ran the ball 53 percent of the time in 2014. That number is expected to drop since the more athletic Taylor Kelly no longer behind center.
Plus, Bercovici’s ability to get the ball out quickly will help mask a rebuilt left side of the offensive line after Arizona State lost Jamil Douglas and Tyler Sulka to graduation.
Paranoia. Paranoia. Everyone is out to get the spread teams.
Last year, Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema were advocates of slowing down the game by changing the defensive substitution rules.
The NCAA Rules Committee shelved the discussion after numerous coaches came out publicly denouncing the potential rule change.
However, the NCAA did pass a rule last week that shortens the distance an offensive linemen is allowed to be downfield when a pass is in the air. The new rule states an offensive lineman cannot be more than a yard beyond the line of scrimmage during a passing play.
At least four prominent coaches that utilize spread offenses came out publicly and stated the change is merely an overreaction by the rules committee.
“I just want ’em to enforce the rule they have,” Arizona State head coach Todd Graham told USA TODAY‘s George Schroeder. “You’re not supposed to be more than 3 yards downfield. They need to enforce that.”
It’s not uncommon to see an offensive lineman five yards or more downfield due to the prevalence of packaged plays at the collegiate level. Quarterbacks are often given the option to hand the ball off, run or pass the football in a single play. Some signal-callers are adept at waiting until the last second before they uncork a pass. When that happens, there is usually an offensive lineman too far downfield, yet it’s rarely called.
Over the next two weeks, detractors of the rule change can provide comments to the rules committee. The NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel will then consider to move forward or not with the rule change on March 5.
“This is the second year in a row I’ll be involved in (pushing back against a proposal),” Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze told Schroeder. “I’m certainly not looking for things. If my understanding is correct, the reason they are proposing the rule change is based on a small sample size of plays that the (rules) committee viewed. In those plays, flags should have been thrown. … I think it’s a bad precedent to start changing rules of our game because things that were fouls weren’t called. I want to be clear: I don’t think we should be allowed to have linemen running free downfield (on pass plays). But the rule is a good rule.”
Graham and Freeze are joined by Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Baylor’s Art Briles in asking the rule be withdrawn from consideration.
Senior running back Deantre Lewis will not finish his career as a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils.
After finishing the regular season with 298 total yards as both a running back and a wide receiver, Lewis will not play in the Sun Bowl against the Duke Blue Devils.
No reason was given for Lewis departure, but Arizona State head coach Todd Graham confirmed he is no longer part of the program.
Lewis career never blossomed after a promising freshman campaign. During his first year on campus, Lewis produced three straight 100-yard games against the Wisconsin Badgers, Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers. He never ran for more than 64 yards in any single game during the rest of his career.
The running back was a victim of a random shooting in 2012. Upon his return, he was stuck on the depth chart behind Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Lewis was then shifted to the defensive side of the football for a short period. He suffered an MCL injury in 2014. He was even called out publicly by his coach.
After an average senior season, it appears Lewis finally had enough.
Tight end Brendan Landman wasn’t a highly decorated recruit. He was considered a two-star prospect by Rivals.com. But he impressed Arizona State’s coaching staff enough to garner playing time this season as a true freshman.
Landman didn’t register a catch, but he was one of only 10 freshman to contribute to Todd Graham‘s squad.
Despite a promising start to his career, Landman decided to leave the program according to AZCentral.com’s Doug Haller:
ASUDevils.com reported that Landman plans to transfer. Multiple schools could be interested after the 6-6 tight end received playing time in the Pac-12 Conference.
Landman originally choose Arizona State over San Jose State. The Spartans could be an option if Landman wants to play closer to his home in Danville, California.
If the talented tight end decides to transfer to another FBS program, he’ll have to sit out the 2015 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Landman will still have three years of eligibility remaining.
A Pac-12 South division crown and The Territorial Cup will both reside in Tucson, Arizona this year.
The No. 11 Arizona Wildcats claimed a 42-35 victory over the No. 13 Arizona State Sun Devils in a chippy affair that proved to be a de facto Pac-12 South championship game.
With the UCLA Bruins’ loss, the balance of the Pac-12 South was still in question during the fourth quarter for the Wildcats and the Sun Devils.
Arizona already built a 35-21 lead with the fourth frame about to commence. Arizona State head coach Todd Graham decided to make a change at quarterback by swapping Taylor Kelly for Mike Bercovici. The move paid immediate dividends, but it didn’t prove to be enough.
A 20-yard touchdown reception by sophomore wide receiver Samajie Grant — his second of the contest — was the difference in the game.
With the victory, the Wildcats enter rare territory for the program.
Arizona will now face the No. 2 Oregon Ducks in next week’s Pac-12 Championship Game. It will be a rematch of its Oct. 2 meeting. The Wildcats arrived on the national scene with a 31-24 victory during the Thursday night contest.
The Ducks will be favored again when these two teams meet for the second time:
After failing at the University Michigan and being fired after three seasons, Rodriguez already turned around Arizona’s football program in the same amount of time. With another strong effort against Oregon, Rodriguez could achieve something very special in the desert: