Michigan State Names Andrew Maxwell Starting QB
Head coach Mike Dantonio previously announced that 4 quarterbacks were in competition for the 2013 starting spot.
Redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor and true freshman Damion Terry both impressed Dantonio all summer, but not enough to crack the team’s top-2.
Sophomore Connor Cook replaced starter Andrew Maxwell in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl last season and led the Spartans to a 17-16 win over TCU. There was a lot of speculation that Cook could overtake Maxwell as the team’s #1. According to Dantonio, Cook will see the field in Friday’s season opener against Western Michigan, but it’s Andrew Maxwell’s show at this point.
Last year was a bit of a rollercoaster for Maxwell, who replaced Spartan star Kirk Cousins behind center. He threw for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns with 9 interceptions while completing 52.5% of his passes. He was serviceable for the most part, but drew a lot of critique from the Spartan faithful.
Maxwell will have a similar set of receivers to throw to this year, minus tight end Dion Sims. Senior Bennie Fowler was the team’s leading receiver last year and should be set for another solid season, but the most enticing receiver of the group is sophomore and former four-star recruit Aaron Burbridge. His freshman season was inconsistent to say the least, but he showed flashes of promise, especially in his 8 reception, 134 yard game against Indiana. And he’s greatly impressed the coaching the staff throughout training camp.
The backfield is a bigger point of concern than the receiving core. Without standout back Le’Veon Bell, the Spartans will have to replace an enormous amount of offensive production. In 2012, Bell carried the ball 382 times for 1,793 yards, and 12 touchdowns.
Junior Jeremy Langford, who has played a number of different positions for the Spartans, is currently the frontrunner to be the lead back, with redshirt freshman Riley Bullough next in line. Then two more freshmen, Delton Williams and Gerald Holmes Jr., could see a good amount of time on the field as well.
The Spartans bread and butter this year will undoubtedly be their defense. Led by star linebacker Max Bullough, the unit will be one of the best in the Big Ten and possibly throughout the country. The loss of defensive linemen William Gholston and Anthony Rashad White won’t be too significant of a concern with a strong set of defensive lineman, particularly junior Marcus Rush, ready to take their place.
For MSU to make a run at the Big Ten title this year, they’ll need to get a significant amount of production from their quarterback, far more than they received from Maxwell last year. Whether he’s able to take his game to the next level or whether another Spartans quarterback steps into the spotlight will dictate how well the 2013 team can do.