One of the biggest questions for Michigan State heading into the 2016 season, is who will be under center when the season kicks off Friday night, September 2nd at Spartan Stadium.
After nearly three seasons with Connor Cook at the helm of the Spartans offense, MSU will have to find it’s next quarterback.
It will be interesting to see how head coach Mark Dantonio handles this competition. It was clear that his loyalty to Andrew Maxwell in 2012 cost the Spartans some games (7-6 record), and it wasn’t until late in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl did he turn to Cook.
Then in 2013, Michigan State didn’t settle on a starting quarterback until their first Big Ten game where Cook led the Spartans to the first of 10 straight victories to close what would be Big Ten and Rose Bowl winning campaign.
Fast forward to 2016 and the MSU QB race has two front-runners with redshirt senior Tyler O’Connor and redshirt junior Damion Terry both competing for the top spot. The Spartans also have two freshman in the mix with Brian Lewerke and Messiah deWeaver, although these two are a long shot to play this season.
O’Connor started for the Green team at Saturday’s annual spring game, and showed why he was named the No. 1 QB on the depth chart in Spring practice. The 6-foot-3, 225 pound signal caller went 10-16 for 138 yards and a touchdown. He also showcased some running ability with 28 yards on the ground.
Terry, starting for the White team, was 6-12 for 70 yards, but did miss on some throws. The fourth-year junior is the more athletic of the two as evident by his touchdown run late in the game and an 11-yard scramble earlier that drive.
The two freshman were given an opportunity as well to play in front of a Michigan State Spring game record 51,000 fans at Spartan Stadium. Lewerke, who was redshirted a year ago, 2-9 for 42 yards and an interception. Meanwhile deWeaver, a true freshman, finished 2 for 6 for 27 yards which included a 58-yard scoring drive capped off by a Delton Williams rushing touchdown.
Following the scrimmage, Spartans co-offensive coordinator and QB coach Brad Salem gave his thoughts on what he saw from the quarterbacks.
“I think the biggest thing is being able to be in this environment,” said Salem, who coached the White team. “For them, there’s a lot of things – just the signal from the sideline, calling it in the huddle – becoming real. We try to replicate that as much as we can in practice. But part of it is you put them on a big stage with people and how they handle it.”
Dantonio has declined to name a starting quarterback until fall and wants to keep all four quarterbacks competing through the summer and into preseason practice.