Will Mike Bercovici be a tandem QB? (Photo: ASU)
We're dusting off a classic here that longtime readers will remember.
The Beatles are history's greatest band, and their music is timeless and universal, spanning continents, languages and generations. As such, their extensive catalog provides the perfect soundtrack to Arizona State's fall camp, which opens this Friday.
Today, we take a pre-camp look at where each of the position groups stands, and provide the added bonus of the perfect musical score to convey the theme, along with the analysis.
Quarterback - "Two of Us"
"Two of us behind center / throwing passes / for some hard earned play"
Over the course of 15 hard fought spring practices, the three-man quarterback derby only moved slightly towards a resolution. Mike Bercovici emerged with a slim edge, but Coach Graham has been adamant that the competition will continue into fall camp, with the hopes that a leader is in place prior to the trip to Camp Tontozona on August 14th.
However, throughout the offseason, Graham has also repeatedly stated that a two-quarterback system is a possibility. This sentiment was strengthened at Pac-12 Media Day, when Graham said that he can't envision a situation in which ultra-talented Michael Eubank doesn't play.
Although Taylor Kelly is not out of the mix, it appears that some mix of Bercovici and Eubank will be the primary quarterbacking situation this fall. Whether that takes the form of Bercovici starting with Eubank coming in and leading specific packages remains to be seen.
Running Back - "Carry That Weight"
"Boys, you're gonna carry that ball / carry that ball a long time"
Take that uncertain quarterback situation, add a new offensive scheme, and toss in a very deep and talented backfield, and you have a recipe for a Sun Devil offense that will lean heavily on the run in 2012.
Senior Cameron Marshall leads the charge. He's one of the premier backs in the nation, as evidenced by his place on the Doak Walker and Maxwell Award watch lists. He has a great blend of power and speed, and will be making a run at several ASU career records.
Behind him will be a battle for carries. James Morrison had a great spring, earning the nickname "Tank" from Graham. Deantre Lewis showed during the spring that his recovery from last season's gunshot wound is coming along nicely, and the speedy Kyle Middlebrooks was having a resurgent showing before a shoulder injury. They'll be joined by two members of the 2012 recruiting class, dynamic newcomer D.J. Foster and top juco running back Marion Grice.
Watching how the division of labor behind Marshall unfolds and how the coaches utilize so many talented players will be one of the more exciting stories to follow in August.
The rest of the offense is previewed after the jump
Wide Receiver - "I Wanna Be Your Man"
"I wanna be your go-to target / I wanna be your man"
When you lose 66% of last season's receiving yards, and your leading returning receiver is not really a true wide receiver, you have two choices. For the glass-half-empty crowd, it's time to worry. For optimists, it's an opportunity for someone to emerge and become "the man".
The explosive Jamal Miles and his 60 receptions are back, and while he lacks the build and skillset of a prototypical wide receiver, there is no denying his dynamic ability. He showed solid development in his route running during the spring, and enters as the No. 1 option at the position.
After Miles, there is plenty of talent but little to no experience. Kevin Ozier has the makings of a terrific slot receiver, while Rashad Ross has elite speed necessary to be a downfield threat. J.J. Holliday had a great spring, making big improvements all around while showing consistent hands. Gary Chambers has an intriguing blend of size (6'3") and speed, and A.J. Pickens had some success last season as a speedster.
Two newcomers to watch are freshman Richard Smith and juco-transfer Alonzo Agwuenu. Smith is a speedy 5'9" target who could do some damage out of the slot, while Agwuenu has the size (6'4", 210) and speed to be an immediate contributor to the offense.
Tight End/H-Back - "There's a Place"
"There is a place / where I can play / where I can catch / where I can block"
The production from ASU's tight ends over the last two years has been scarce, to say the least. With the new offensive scheme now in place, that could very well change as the unit now has a place in the gameplan.
Juco transfer Darwin Rodgers was able to qualify early and joined the team for spring practice. He had some growing pains, but the 6'4", 240 pounder has showed off good blocking ability and the ability to contribute in the passing game.
The most interesting development here is at H-back, or "3-back" in ASU vernacular, where Chris Coyle could be in for a big year. In Graham's previous stops, those positions have been a major contributor, and the size and speed blend of Coyle fit the bill perfectly. Said Bercovici of Coyle, "Chris Coyle at our 3-back position is going to be a real threat this year. I know him very well, and know his capabilities on offense, and I feel like he's going to be a stud this year."
It's always good to have the quarterback as your biggest fan.
Offensive Line - "Come Together"
"Here come the O-line / they best gel up quickly / they got two, two veterans / they got lots of talent"
For all of the talent, potential and hope contained within the Sun Devil offense, it will quickly go nowhere if the offensive line can't come together, gel as a unit, and become a stabilizing force.
Gone are five players who made starts last season, with only left tackle Evan Finkenberg and right guard Andrew Sampson returning among starters. Finkenberg has All-Pac-12 talent and Sampson has improved and become a leader among the unit, but there is still room to improve.
Center Kody Koebensky fought off a charge from Mo Latu in the spring, and will need to continue that into the fall to inherit Garth Gerhart's job. He has great intangibles, but will need to improve in the physical aspects during camp. Jamil Douglas at left guard has some solid upside, but the wild card of the unit comes with right tackle Brice Schwab. Tremendously talented and rededicated after redshirting to improve his conditioning in 2011, Schwab could really help the offense with a strong comeback year.
After that, the depth is worrisome, leaving offensive line coach Bob Connelly with some work to do. Incoming freshman Evan Goodman may be pressed into service this year is players like his brother Devin, Kyle Johnson, Tyler Sulka and Sil Ajawara aren't able to step up.