After endless weeks of speculation and turmoil, on Tuesday, Michigan State fans got the news that they've either been dreading, or hoping, to hear: Last year's starting quarterback, Andrew Maxwell, will begin the 2013 season against Western Michigan as the Spartans' top QB once again.
The news doesn't come entirely as a surprise, seeing as how head coach Mark Dantonio listed Maxwell as the team's starter since the opening of preseason camp. But when Maxwell failed to be voted as a captain by his fellow teammates, despite being named as a captain last season, things started looking grim for the embattled quarterback of 2012.
As Dantonio spoke to the media on Tuesday, he reiterated the thoughts that he'd been hammering in since the start of the preseason - that his players need to move into the future as one.
“I think all Spartans out there need to recognize, as we go forward,” Dantonio said, “it's important we all go forward together.”
It was noted by Dantonio that in addition to Maxwell starting, last year's backup quarterback, Connor Cook, would also see some playing time during Saturday's game. There was no mention of any possibility for redshirt freshmen Tyler O'Connor or freshman Damion Terry, though a redshirt for Terry also isn’t guaranteed as of yet.
Dantonio said that his makeshift QB competition would continue for as long as needed, possibly stretching well out into the regular season. Maxwell, though, clearly has the upper hand on the rest of his competition due to his experience in the starting role, despite the fact that Maxwell played poorly in many situations during last year's lackluster season.
“What I tried to provide was a very competitive situation, mainly to put pressure on everybody,” Dantonio said. “People have to feel the heat, they have to feel the pressure so that you can evaluate them in pressure situations. That's as close as we can get to the game situation.
“So I always felt like that Andrew was going to be our guy. That was the general consensus among our coaches. But we wanted to provide that competitive level.”
Maxwell, on the other hand, says he never felt like it was necessarily a competition with his fellow teammates, but rather, he looked at it as something different and more positive.
“Sally Nogle, who’s our head trainer, reminded me a few times right around that time, ‘Look, you’re not out there to beat three other quarterbacks. You’re out there to beat a defense,’” Maxwell said. “And I think once I took more of a mindset of, ‘OK, I can’t control the number of reps I get, what I can control is what I do with the reps when I’m in there’ … that’s where it kind of turned for me.”
Still, Maxwell knew that in the end, despite everyone getting a shot at the top spot, someone would eventually claim it; at least, in the beginning.
“I think they were pretty clear throughout the whole process that they were gonna give everybody a chance and they were gonna go with the person they felt gave this team the best chance to move the football, to score points on the board,” Maxwell said of Dantonio and the other coaches. “So from that aspect they were pretty forthright.”
Spartan fans hoping to see a fresh face starting under center may have a long wait in front of them, as Dantonio seems to have settled upon Maxwell for the time being. Cook, who will see playing time this Saturday, seems to have to best shot at upending Maxwell for the starting role.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.