The second week of spring football practice has come to a close, and the Arizona State Sun Devil football team is preparing for a closed-session scrimmage on Saturday morning.
The reasoning behind closing the next two Saturday's scrimmages to the public and media is so that recruits can be on the field. Opening Saturday was open to the public and media, as will the scrimmage on April 13. However, recruits will have to be in the stands, not on the field.
Sun Devil Football Fan Fest
The Annual Maroon and Gold Spring Game will be the highlight of the 2013 Sun Devil Football Fan Fest. The event will be a full day of activities for fans of all ages. The event will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will begin on the southern end of Sun Devil Stadium and parking lots with a Kids Zone and Great Sun Devil Tailgate Competition.
Moving inside the stadium at 11 a.m., the 2013 Sun Devil Football team will be introduced and the scrimmage will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. There will be plenty of opportunities for fans to get photos with the Rose Bowl Trophy, Territorial Cup and Victory Bell. Several current players and alumni will be on hand signing autographs.
The event commences with the Junior Sun Devil Skills Challenge where children will be allowed to run, pass and kick on the field.
Some interesting battles are taking place in spring practice so far in 2013, and the most contested is that of backup quarterback. Two redshirt sophomores are going at it and have equally split reps with the second team in the past week.
Mike Bercovici was Brock Osweiler's backup in the 2011 season as a true freshman, but with the early departure of Osweiler and a coaching change, Bercovici lost the starting position to Taylor Kelly.
He also lost the backup job to Michael Eubank.
Bercovici utilized his redshirt year in 2012 and is back and better than he has ever been since joining the team. This is going to be a difficult battle as Eubank played in every game last year and scored eight touchdowns, four passing and four rushing. Eubank saw decreasing minutes as the season progressed and might lose out on the backup position if he's not careful.
“[Bercovici] has made some great throws,” coach Todd Graham said. “He’s had a great spring…Berc’s a guy that you better not rest your laurels on.”
Redshirt junior Deantre Lewis has done it all for the Sun Devils while not really doing much. As a true freshman in 2010, he played in 11 games and started two. He found the end zone six times, four rushing and two receiving. The year also saw his career-long rushing touchdown of 53 yards and receiving touchdown of 70 yards.
Lewis suffered a gunshot wound in February 2011 in Riverside, Calif. and sat out the 2011 season. When Lewis returned to the team in 2012, he experienced a crowded backfield with two new additions in Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. He switched to defensive back and earned playing time in the first seven games.
When Foster left the game against Navy, Lewis got his chance to get back in the running game with seven attempts for 27 yards. The graduation of running back Cameron Marshall has allowed Lewis to convert back to running back.
“He’s steadily getting better each week,” coach Todd Graham said. “I think he’s healthy now. I think he’s had a good solid spring, so what we’re looking for is consistency.”
The kicking game that has been in a flux of late just added another member. The roller coaster ride of place kickers with Alex Garoutte and Jon Mora may be over with the signing of Zane Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, a 6'1" kicker from Deer Park, Texas, will join the team in the fall and compete with Garoutte and Mora for the starting position. Gonzalez enjoyed a perfect senior season at Deer Park High School, outside of Houston, where he nailed 10-of-10 field goals and all extra point attempts. His junior year saw him connect on a career-long 48-yard field goal and 80 of his career 112 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
This is great news for the struggling kicking game. We will just see if he can make the transition to Division I football.
The 2013 football season brings several challenges including three teams that were in BCS Bowl games and five more against teams that played in the postseason. If the Devils can win the Pac-12 south and head to the Pac-12 Championship Game, this can be the beginning of a football dynasty in the desert.
David is the Featured Columnist of Arizona State Athletics for B/R. Follow him on Twitter at @asudave.