Question: What do Mike Bercovici and Sean O’Grady have in common?
Yes, they’re both third-year sophomores on the Arizona State football team. Kudos to you if you had that pegged. More likely, you know who Bercovici is and were left scratching your head on O’Grady. A complete blank? Vaguely familiar? Is that guy on scholarship?
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
See here’s a point blank reality that should surprise no one: Bercovici plays quarterback, a position of perennial hyper-focus to fans and media alike. O’Grady? He’s just a backup defensive lineman, a no-name cog.
Neither man has played enough to break a sweat to this point in their respective college careers, but go to ASU practices this month regularly as we do and you’ll no doubt see Bercovici get a lot of interview requests. Coaches are asked about him regularly. O’Grady? It’s doubtful anyone has asked him for anything.
That’s a bit unfortunate but not for the reason you might think. No, this isn’t a call for rebellion against the generally accepted perception of hierarchical importance of the sport’s positions. That’d be a way too ambitious – and obviously futile – undertaking.
Rather, we just thought you might like to know that it’s O’Grady, and not Bercovici, who will have more of an impact on the fate of the 2013 Sun Devils. So, maybe, just maybe, you might want to know who he is if you don’t already.
If Sutton goes down again, it’ll be crippling. But if he remains healthy, his backup could help.
The bottom line reality on ASU’s quarterback position is that if junior starter Taylor Kelly gets hurt for any length of time this year, the team’s lofty aspirations will be sidelined with him. There’s a big drop off between Kelly, a star player who set school records in completion percentage and passer rating and was one touchdown pass shy of another mark, and his backups, Bercovici and sophomore Michael Eubank.
It’ll be hard enough for ASU to win the Pac-12 South with a healthy Kelly. Without him? No way.
Now, don’t expect O’Grady to play a major role for the Sun Devils. That’s not what we’re saying at all. But unlike quarterbacks, defensive lineman actually do come off the field sometimes, and if their backups are effective, it matters.
ASU head coach Todd Graham has repeatedly made mention of his team’s improved defensive line depth in recent weeks, and O’Grady has spent a lot of time with the second unit at the 3-technique tackle position. So you know he’s not only in the equation, but holding his own.
Even though nobody is asking about O’Grady specifically, Graham gave him an unprompted mention this week which underlines the important role of defensive line depth.
“O’Grady is a guy who is really coming on, he said Thursday. “[He] can play end of three-technique and we think will play for us some.”
A player you almost certainly do know, consensus All-American senior Will Sutton, is the team’s starting 3-technique tackle, and Graham has said he’d like to keep Sutton – heavier by 10-15 pounds over his late-2012 season weight – fresher by giving him a breather for 10-15 snaps a game. It’s something Graham really couldn’t afford to do before.
Last year, when ASU’s most recognizable defensive star came off the field, the Sun Devils really struggled at the position. A knee injury that knocked Sutton out of the lineup for all of two games save one play probably cost the team at least one win, which was enough to keep it out of the Pac-12 title game. If Sutton goes down again, it’ll be crippling. But if he remains healthy, his backup could help.
So give No. 93 at least a glance when he runs out onto the field next week. He likely won’t have as much grease on his face as the typically war-painted Sutton, but if he has enough in his game to keep a well-oiled defense lubricated, that cog may be worthy of being named.