It's very tough to give out game balls after tough losses like the Sun Devils had Thursday night. UCLA took down Arizona State in their own stadium, no bones about it. It was the Bruins night and they owned it. Meanwhile the Sun Devils will go back to the drawing board, but before they do, we have a couple game balls to give out.
Bercovici set two school records in completions (42) and passing attempts (68). He is the first Arizona State quarterback since Rudy Carpenter in 2005 to throw for over 400 yards in his first career start with 488 through the air. But he gets a game ball more for his character. He was far from perfect throwing two interceptions, but no one really thought he would be. Mike Bercovici is not Taylor Kelly and if you expected that, then you're sadly mistaken. He did the most he could against a very good UCLA defense which has won them four games now. The redshirt junior wasn't conservative, he took shots down field and he stuck his neck out there on the biggest stage, that's all you can ask for from a backup quarterback.
Strong was himself Thursday night and had 12 receptions for 146 yards. He probably knew Bercovici would target him more often and lean on him and Strong did what he could when covered by Ishmael Adams, who had an incredible performance. In a game where the quarterback needed his wide receivers more than anything, Strong stepped up and delivered in his usual role.
Welcome to the team Mr. Smith. Fans and media alike have been calling on Smith to take a more active role in the offense last season and the first couple of games this year. Smith finally showed what he's capable of with eight receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown against UCLA. He will need to continue to be a weapon that Bercovici can utilize next week. His eight receptions tied his total from all of last season and his 95 yards Thursday came close to eclipsing his freshman season mark of 129 yards. Smith is only a sophomore and showed flashes of what he can be, something he'll need to continue going forward.