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Who Are You, Mike Bercovici and Sun Devil Football?
Mike Howell
By , DieHardDevil.com
September 20, 2015 6:00 PM

The 5th year senior has invested his blood, sweat and tears as the leader of the program

Has the 2015 Sun Devil Football season started yet? It’s hard to say.

After three games, we still do not know the identity of the Sun Devils. On top of that, we are surprisingly unclear about what ASU has in team leader, 5th-year senior quarterback Mike Bercovici.

Since the end of 2014, fans have relished in the fact that Mike Bercovoci would lead the 2015 team to greatness. However, “Berc” has not been the same guy we watched against UCLA, USC and Stanford last year when three-year starter Taylor Kelly was sidelined by injury.

 

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“No one would ever compete harder for this community than the 2015 Sun Devils.”

We simply haven’t seen that x-factor in Mike Bercovici…. yet.

Berc’s presence on the field last season exuded a sense of energy, urgency, and unwavering determination. Those are the intangible qualities that have endeared Sun Devil Nation to him, not his ability to make any throw on the football field.

Immediately after the Sun Bowl last year, Head Coach Todd Graham turned to Bercovici and said, “This is your team now.” Since then, the 5th year senior has done everything right on and off the field. He has invested his blood, sweat and tears as the leader of the program, and evidence of his dedication has been rampant since then.

In February, Bercovici with his roommates, Jordan Simone and D.J. Foster, released a moving letter about The Grind which served as their pledge to Sun Devil Nation that, “No one would ever compete harder for this community than the 2015 Sun Devils.” (Full text of letter below article.)

Fans couldn’t help but to internalize Bercovici’s Sun Devil pride and competitiveness.

Against Texas A&M, Bercovoci’s first shot to manifest his promise, he was caged. ASU’s front line was mostly dominated by bigger, faster players throughout the game, and Berc’s opportunities to do what he does best were stifled.

One could only imagine Bercovici’s frustration with the 291-yard offensive performance and the tension that likely existed on that plain ride back to Tempe.

 

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Photo- Brian Brooks for DieHardDevil.com

 

In ASU’s second game against Cal Poly the Devils came away with a 35-21 win, but Bercovici and his offense were not themselves. Again, the team lacked a sense of urgency and excitement, something that fans expected with Bercovici at the helm. 

He started the game 5 for 13 for 36 yards, and an unrecognizable Sun Devil offense needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to put away an FCS team.

It was clear that even against an over-matched opponent, ASU had yet to play close to expectations. Before Bercovici and his offense finally put away Cal Poly, you could hear an undertone of boos from some fans in Sun Devil Stadium.

Enter game #3, a 34-10 win over New Mexico. To open the game, ASU’s first two sets of downs ended in punts with Bercovici going 0-5. It wasn’t until under two minutes to go in the first half that the Devils scored their first touchdown against another FCS team.

Even at halftime Friday night, fans were bewildered with the 2015 team.

Finally, in the 11th quarter of the season, Bercovici and the Devils came out and showed us something that looked familiar. In a stretch of plays that included 17 of 19 completions for 271 yards, Bercovici threw for three touchdowns.

 

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QB Mike Bercovici (Photo- Sun Devil Athletics)

 

ASU ripped off several explosive plays, and the 5th year senior salvaged the day with a touch of confidence for Sun Devil Nation. He finished 22 of 37 for 317 yards, 3 touchdowns and no interceptions.

With ASU and USC set to collide Saturday night in Tempe, it remains to be seen if Bercovici has earned his team’s (or the fan’s) complete confidence. After all, even with a highly-productive second half against New Mexico, it could be argued that Berc still did not exude the same heightened win-at-all-costs presence that supercharged Sun Devil Nation last season.

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I have no doubt it’s coming and when it does, fans will see a new Sun Devil Football team. It is just a matter of when.

Throughout his five years in Tempe, Bercovici has done everything it takes to be great, and he has sacrificed so much to be in the situation he is in at this moment. It could be argued that no player has dedicated themselves more to The Grind than Mike Bercovici himself.

Challenges to this team certainly exist. The Devils have not yet fielded their complete team as many of their biggest play-makers have sustained injuries at different points in these first three contests. The staff may have underestimated the problem of loosing running backs coach, Bo Graham, less than two weeks before the September 5 kickoff. In a sudden change of plans, OC Mike Norvell has vanished from the sidelines to call plays from up in the press box. The routine that has served ASU well these past three seasons has been altered.

Could Saturday be the start of the “real” Sun Devil Football season that fans have believed in under Bercovici? That’s what it will take over the next nine games for ASU to realize true success.

It’s time for Mike Bercovici to put this team on his shoulders and seize what is rightfully his.

He has earned it.

 

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The letter written by Mike Bercovici and his roommates, Jordan Simone and D.J. Foster:

To Sun Devil Nation,

As student-athletes at Arizona State University, we want to first and foremost thank all who contribute and support our football program. We are honored to have the opportunity to be members of the Sun Devil Football team and we take very seriously our duty to compete at the highest level in all that we do.

The leaders of this team have made it our mission to express to our fans that no one will ever compete harder for this community than the 2015 Sun Devils. We want all of you to know that nothing sounds better than hearing the ASU Victory Bell being rung on the field at Sun Devil Stadium and nothing is more gratifying than singing the fight song with our fellow students after each win.

Every year there is only one team that raises the National Championship Trophy for its university. This trophy signifies what we like to call “The Grind.” The Grind is not simply a goal-line stand on fourth down in Sun Devil Stadium or a game-winning touchdown pass, but rather the process by which we achieve these moments. The Grind is making a conscious decision every day to represent our university and our fans with class and character. It is 6 a.m. workouts on a Friday and a full schedule of classes each semester, early morning practices and late night film study. The Grind is not something we dread as players, but rather look forward to conquering. This season, we are embracing The Grind.

We have won many games in Coach Graham’s first three seasons leading our team out of Tillman Tunnel and each year we have inched closer to our ultimate objective. Our goal has and always will be to win championships, but the difference between this year and past seasons is the foundation we have laid through The Grind. In the classroom, around the community and on the field, the standard inside our locker room is no longer to just win. We will be champions.

The product that will step across the white lines this season will consist of smart, disciplined and tough young men with unique talents and skill sets. Yes, we may make great catches and deliver big hits on the gridiron, but that is not what wins a championship. The Grind wins championships.

We want to be a program that all of Sun Devil Nation is proud to call its own and as brothers, sons, teammates, students and members of this community, we invite you to join The Grind with us.

One last note: The Territorial Cup will return to Tempe this year.

Your Sun Devil Football Team,

Michael Bercovici

D.J. Foster

Jordan Simone

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– Join us this Saturday –

 

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