On any normal given day, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is usually tight-lipped about his detailed plans for many of his top players. That statement rings especially true with his quarterbacks, whom he guards his information about feverishly.
But on Thursday, the normally stoic Dantonio decided to open up to reporters when he was asked about the decision he made earlier this week to play true freshman quarterback Damion Terry in this weekend's upcoming game against Youngstown State - a move that many analysts and fans agree needed to be made after the less-than-stellar starts of QBs Andrew Maxwell and Connor Cook in the first two games.
Cook will receive the starting nod once again this weekend, but for the first time ever, Dantonio will have his redshirt freshman in Terry set to play backup and ensures that the young player will see some playing time.
Dantonio acknowledged that while he understands the need to see what Terry is made of at this point, he also doesn't want to "burn any bridges" by burning the freshman's redshirt too early, which would give him one less year to develop and remove him from consideration to start in 2017.
"If he's not ready to play in a game, we can't take the redshirt off him and ruin his year," Dantonio said. "That wouldn't be fair to him (and) people need to understand that.
"If we take the redshirt off of him, it means he had a great week of practice and he's ready to play, we'll go in that direction. We can't play him one game and not play him again. That's not fair to him, not when you're a true freshman. That's why this situation needs to be managed delicately. We have to make sure he's ready to play and then allow him to develop."
Though Terry was on the sidelines and had his helmet on during last weekend's victory over South Florida, Dantonio was wary about playing his young quarterback due to a sore thumb and a case of strep throat that the freshman was suffering from. Still, Dantonio and quarterbacks coach Brad Salem, like the rest of us, is anxious to see what Terry has up his sleeves.
"You see flashes of what he can do," Salem said. "But to be honest, we have not seen him much. Even in fall camp he wasn't able to take snaps for a week-and-a-half. He's back, and he looks like he's 100 percent, and you see ability to move and throw.
"And you still see youthfulness. You've got to protect the kid, too, be when you're talking about, IF he plays, you have to somehow guarantee success because you're taking a redshirt from him and that's a huge decision.
"That's the seriousness of this."
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.