Andrew Maxwell

Back to the drawing board for Michigan State offense

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It was a frustrating afternoon for the Michigan State Spartans in South Bend. Multiple pass interference penalties helped keep drives alive for Notre Dame and the lone turnover of the game was cashed in by the Irish for a game-winning touchdown. Notre Dame picked up their second straight win against a Big Ten opponent, winning Saturday by a score of 17-13.

As expected heading in to the game, the defenses for both teams led the way against offenses lacking much punch early on this season. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees completed just 14-of-34 pass attempts for 142 yards and a late first half touchdown. The running game also struggled mightily against the Spartans, with just 73 yards on the ground. Michigan State’s offense was worse, with all three quarterback options getting some playing time. Connor Cook got the start for the Spartans and completed half of his passes for 135 yards and a touchdown. R.J. Shelton came in and threw one pass, but it was intercepted at the Notre Dame 19-yard line by Matthias Farley. Farley’s pick set up Notre Dame to score a touchdown five plays later when Cam McDaniel rushing seven yards for the score. With the game on the line, Mark Dantonio called on his fifth-year senior Andrew Maxwell to come off the sideline and lead a game-winning drive. Maxwell went 0-for-3 and ran out of bounds on a 4th and 20 play to turnover the football on downs.

If we learned one thing from this game, it is that the Spartans still have some serious concerns about their offense, starting at quarterback. Could we see Damion Terry once again get some reps in practice and maybe even a shot to lead this offense?

Notre Dame has a big stretch of games coming up in the next few weeks. Oklahoma visits Notre Dame Stadium next Saturday and Arizona State meets the Irish in Arlington the following week. Neither of those teams have the same questions about their quarterbacks or their offense, so Notre Dame will be tested.

This game marked the first time since 2001 that neither team managed to score at least 20 points in a game. Michigan State won that game, 17-10 in South Bend.

True frosh getting No. 2 reps as Spartans list four co-No. 1 QBs

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The roller coaster that is the Michigan State quarterback position continues today, with a player of the future inching closer to becoming the player of the here and now.

Officially, the Spartans are right back to where they were a week and a half before the start of the 2013 season, with four quarterbacks listed as co-starters on the most recent depth chart.  This comes after Andrew Maxwell, last season’s starter as well as the starter for the season opener, fell behind Connor Cook and Tyler O’Connor, with the former starting the second game of the season last Saturday.

While Cook is expected to start again this weekend against Youngstown State — he’s getting significant reps with the first-team offense — head coach Mark Dantonio said Tuesday that true freshman Damion Terry will be getting work with the No. 2 offense during practice today.  Terry has been dealing with an injured thumb as well as a case of strep throat, which put the kibosh on a plan to make him part of last week’s game plan.

Dantonio, though, said Terry “deserves an opportunity” to help settle a position that’s been anything but not only this season but last.

Last season, MSU finished 85th in the country at 209.9 yards passing per game; through two games this season, they’re 117th (105 ypg).  The Spartans have yet to throw a touchdown pass this season.

Whether Terry is the answer or is to be determined, although, in all honesty, he couldn’t possibly be much worse.  A four-star member of MSU’s 2013 recruiting class,  he was rated as the No. 16 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Michigan State freshman QB competing in practice

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Michigan State may be off to a 2-0 start but the defense has twice as many touchdowns scored (four) as the offense (two). Head coach Mark Dantonio is looking to find some answers to spark the Spartans offense. This week, with Michigan State taking on Youngstown State, part of the search will focus on finding a quarterback that can be effective. Freshman Damion Terry, a four-star dual threat quarterback recruit according to Rivals, is apparently in the mix.

According to a report by MLive.com, Terry was taking reps with skill position players on Sunday and Dantonio has said the job of starting quarterback will have to be earned as we enter the third week of the college football season.

“The bottom line is making plays and having confidence in yourself, and stepping up to the plate and seizing the moment,” Dantonio said according to MLive.com. “We normally don’t practice on a Sunday, but we have our skill guys out there right now. As a matter of fact, I came in to take this call.”

Michigan State ranks 12th in the Big Ten in passing offense and is one of two teams in the conference yet to throw a touchdown pass (Purdue). Only Minnesota has a worst pass completion percentage in the Big Ten as well, with the Spartans combining to complete just 47.5 percent of their attempts through two games against Western Michigan and South Florida. Andrew Maxwell has been starting for the Spartans and has completed 15-of-30 attempts for 114 yards. Sophomore Connor Cook and freshman Tyler O’Connor each have played as well but it is clear Dantonio is looking for somebody, perhaps anybody at this point, to separate themselves from the rest of the unit.

The Fifth Quarter: Week 2 Rewind

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As is the case each and every season, each and every week, any omission below is not on purpose, it’s merely intentional.

WINNERS

A-C-C! A-C-C! A-C-C!
Well would you look at what basketball conference has done a little bit of football growing up the first two weeks of the season.  And what football program grabbed a signature win by the throat after years of NCAA turmoil.  It was far from pretty offensively — most games involving the team from Gainesville are — but unranked (for now) Miami was able to punch its way to a 21-16 win over No. 12 Florida, the biggest win for The U since, what, Ohio State in 2011?  Florida State or Oklahoma in 2009?  Regardless, it was Al Golden‘s biggest win in his two-plus years with the Hurricanes, and a clear signal that, while they might not be there yet, The U is certainly pointed in the direction of the national stage.  It’s also a sign that, after Clemson’s win over then-No. 5 Georgia opening weekend, the ACC will no longer be a pushover at the top.  Or that the SEC East is vastly overrated.  One of the two.

Big OBC monkey, be gone!
For both No. 11 Georgia in general and Aaron Murray specifically, there has been a mountain-sized monkey on their respective backs, a South Carolina one for the former and a big-game one for the latter.  In one fell swoop, the simian has left the building thanks to the Bulldogs’ highly-entertaining 41-30 win over the No. 6 Gamecocks.  For UGA it snapped a three-game losing streak against the ‘Cocks, made even sweeter coming off the tough three-point loss to Clemson.  For Murray, it was just his second win — versus four losses — against a team ranked in the Top Ten.  With the Bulldogs defense (again) struggling, Murray turned in a career-like performance, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns.  Here’s to guessing Murray’s home won’t get TP’d and/or egged this year.

Teddy Heisman?
Tabbed as the gambling Heisman Trophy frontrunner earlier this week, Teddy Bridgewater did little to break that momentum this weekend.  In No. 8 Louisville’s thumping of  FCS-level Eastern Kentucky, the quarterback completed 23-of-32 passes for 397 yards and four touchdowns.  On the season, Bridgewater has completed 77 percent of his passes for 752 yards, nine touchdowns and an interception.  Granted, the competition has been a MAC school and one from the FCS — and the schedule doesn’t get much tougher moving forward — but the junior is doing what he has to do: putting up big numbers when he’s supposed to, all the while hoping that some teams from the AAC step up their level of play.

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Connor Cook to start at QB for Michigan State

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At least for the moment, the Andrew Maxwell era at Michigan State has come to an end.

Shortly before their noon kickoff against USF, the Spartans announced that Connor Cook will start at quarterback for the nonconference game.  It will be Cook’s first career start.

Not only was there a change at the top of the depth chart, but redshirt freshman Tyler O’Connor will serve as Cook’s backup and will play in the game per head coach Mark Dantonio.  That means, of course, that Maxwell has tumbled from season-opening starter all the way down to the No. 3 QB in just one game.

In that opening win over Central Michigan, which came after a bizarre summer camp competition that was reopened to four players shortly before the start of the season, Maxwell completed 11-of-21 passes for 74 yards.  Cook, on the other hand, went 6-for-16 for 42 yards.  Neither player threw a touchdown or an interception.

Maxwell started all 13 games in an uneven (to be kind) first year replacing Kirk Cousins, a performance that left the 2013 quarterback job wide open throughout spring practice and into summer camp.