Head Coach Todd Graham has indicated a number of times throughout the summer and in the first two weeks of fall camp that he wanted to come away from Camp Tontozona with an idea as to who the Sun Devil signal caller will be for the 2012 season, if not at least for the team’s first game against Northern Arizona.
With Saturday being an unofficial final rehearsal for all three QB’s, the competition seemed to tighten that much more before the expected announcement this Monday.
Michael Eubank got the morning started as the second team offense actually took the field for the first possession of the day. Eubank, along with the other Sun Devil quarterbacks, showed good command of the offense and effectively moved the ball downfield at will against the defense for most of the scrimmage.
Eubank completed 12-16 passes for 81 yards and one touchdown, started the day with a 5 yard completion to Alonso Agwuenu before a 17 yard Marion Grice up the middle helped get the offense moving. Unfortunately, Grice appeared to injure his ankle on the play, leaving the scrimmage but walking off the field under his power. Despite a missed Jon Mora missed field goal from 51 yards on The Opening drive, the offense showed signs of life.
Eubank consistently struggled to hit his targets on deep passing routes, a strong suit of his throughout the spring, but was surprisingly consistent on his mid-range passes. Repeatedly he was able to buy time by moving within the pocket before finding an open man.
Eubank was also able to keep the defense honest by tucking and running, moving the chains for the maroon team while exhausting the defense. For the day, he rushed 13 times for 106 yards and another touchdown, often displaying why he’s such a big threat in Coach Graham’s high octane offense.
Taylor Kelly was the second quarterback to see action as the first team offense took the field against the second team defense. Kelly was 6-10 for 162 yards and two touchdowns in the air while running twice for -3 yards.
Kelly was unquestionably the most effective down field passer on Saturday as he struck early with a 30 yard pass to Rashad Ross. The tandem hooked up later in Kelly’s second stint on a 92 yard score as Rashad Ross simply outran the defense, and once more for a 37 yard touchdown, showing the importance of the vertical passing attack.
Ross hauled in 5 total catches on Saturday for 193 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Mike Bercovici, who was in need of a strong performance after struggling through camp’s first couple weeks, showed flashes but ultimately not quite enough surpass the other two quarterbacks on the depth chart. The sophomore completed 10-14 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown, but he was the only of the three with an interception, something he has struggled with in the fall.
Bercovici continues to be a mixed bag of goods for the Sun Devils, and quite possibly on the outside looking as he battles the other two signal callers.
The Sun Devils’ offense was also paced by a strong running effort this morning by the running back crew. Without Cameron Marshall who is being held out of contact and Deantre Lewis (hip flexor), D.J. Foster and James Morrison shared the bulk of first team carries with both players doing a commendable job.
James Morrison showed flashes of the player who filled in for Marshall in the spring, turning heads throughout camp, with 75 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. In true “Tank” form, Morrison repeatedly beat up the interior of the Sun Devil defense with tough runs between the tackles.
D J Foster continues to impress as the lightning to Morrison’s thunder on Saturday. The freshman collected 36 yards on eight carries while also proving to be an effective receiving option out of the backfield for the offense.
Undoubtedly the player who stood out the most was true freshman Terrell Davis. Once a likely candidate to redshirt for the 2012 season, the Canadian gave the coaching staff plenty to think about as he rushed for 123 yards on 16 carries and touchdowns, including a 75 yarder as he left the defense in the dust.
With a number of Sun Devil running backs banged up through the first two weeks of camp, Davis is proving to be a valuable option as a reserve going into the season.
While the defense didn’t have its finest day of camp, a handful players stood out on that side of the ball despite the outcome. Osahon Irabor came up with the day’s only interception on a leaping grab along the sidelines.
Anthony Jones, who had a strong showing at camp after being limited in practice recently, forced a fumble after a long catch and run by freshman Richard Smith. Salamo Fiso snared the ball before the offense was able to recover it, providing the only other turnover of the day for the defense.
Alden Darby, who has really grown into a leader on defense this year, had a couple jarring hits on unsuspecting Sun Devil offensive players. Jaxon Hood also continued to build on his impressive fall camp by shoring up the run defense for the first team defense.
Overall, the first team defense yielded just three points despite allowing the offense to move the ball with regularity.
Alex Garoutte was the most consistent kicker on Saturday, as he made his only live attempt from 45 and all his PAT’s. Alex also made his “game winning” field goal at the end of the scrimmage as he was surrounded by the entire team, the only kicker of the three to do so. Jon Mora missed from 51 but connected from 37 yards out and handled kickoffs.