There is a quarterback controversy at Arizona State. Just not for the Sun Devils coaching staff.
Despite the exceptional play by backup Mike Bercovici the past month, ASU head coach Todd Graham told reporters on Monday he expects Taylor Kelly to start for the team against Washington on Saturday.
Kelly was the team's starting signal-caller coming into the season but injured his foot in the third quarter of the team's game against Colorado. He was an All-Pac-12 selection last year and was expected to keep the team in the hunt for its second consecutive South Division title.
While Kelly certainly played well early in the season, it was his backup that kept the team afloat the last three weeks.
A redshirt junior, Bercovici played well despite losing in his first start against UCLA. In addition to beating budding rival Stanford in a title game rematch from a year ago, he also led an improbable comeback against USC that ended on a game-winning Hail Mary.
"When you have a guy making only his third career start, there are so many learning experiences," offensive coordinator Mike Norvell told the Arizona Republic. "But I'm really pleased with how he handled himself Saturday. To come in and have your first three starts against (three ranked teams) right in the crunch part of the season, I'm really pleased with how he's played and continued to get better."
Bercovici has thrown for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions on the season and certainly made the choice to go back to Kelly, instead of sticking with the hot hand, a difficult one for the coaching staff. Although the sample size was small, Bercovici is 32nd in FBS passing efficiency, ahead of names such as Bryce Petty, Everett Golson, and Trevor Knight.
Kelly was expected to be ready for the Stanford game last week but appeared not to be healthy enough to make the start against a tough Cardinal defense.
When Saturday rolls around and the team travels to Washington this week, however, Kelly will apparently be the one taking the snaps with the first-team offense as Arizona State continues to control its own destiny in the division.