We're only two games into the 2013 college football season and one thing is glaringly, nay, painfully clear: Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is seriously struggling to keep his offense alive. On Monday, he acknowledged that.
The Spartans have juggled back-and-forth through more quarterbacks in the first two games of the season than one individual can count on both hands, yet, nothing seems to be working for the beleaguered boys in Green and White. And it's not like MSU is losing these games either, but some lackluster performances on offense against very mediocre to poor-ranking teams in Western Michigan and South Florida is disheartening, to say in the least.
During last Saturday's battle against South Florida in Spartan Stadium, Dantonio tried three different quarterbacks, all of whom struggled mightily against the very inept defense of the Bulls. Connor Cook started the game, while last year's backup in Andrew Maxwell watched while wearing a headset. After it was clear that Cook couldn't lead the team into the redzone (and had fumbled and been sacked), Dantonio pulled him and decided to give redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor his first ever official reps as Spartan.
After leading the team to the redzone, O'Connor forced a toss into the end zone, whipping it in the general direction of two Spartans' receivers, who were covered by five South Florida defenders. The pass was nearly picked off, but lucky for O'Connor, it was only batted away.
"I made a poor decision in the red zone," O'Connor admitted after the game.
With no QB standing out above any other, Dantonio was forced to return to the season-opener's starter in Andrew Maxwell, who was promptly booed off the field after a series of lackluster plays and yanked by Dantonio. Cook, who was reinserted into the game, would eventually lead the team to a decent touchdown-scoring drive, but the damage seemed to be already done: All confidence in the top three Spartans quarterbacks had seemingly disappeared.
Save for one: The mysterious true freshman, Damion Terry.
Terry wore his helmet for the game against South Florida, but was sidelined by a sore thumb and strep throat. He may not have had a chance to compete in the game, but it has become all-too-clear now - Terry may be the last hope for the Spartans' offense.
Thanks to a "glitch" in the NCAA rulebook, playing Terry in the upcoming game against Youngstown State could come with zero consequences if done correctly. As stated, Terry is currently suffering from a thumb injury. Under NCAA guidelines for redshirt freshmen, Terry could play in three of the first six games for the 2013 season and still be eligible to earn back his redshirt if he suffers an injury during one of those three appearances.
Let's say Dantonio were to play Terry this weekend for a majority of the game and Terry just clearly isn't ready to lead this team. No harm, no foul. Terry would just be sidelined with his continuing thumb injury and earn back his redshirt status. But if Terry does break the mold and prove to be the answer that Dantonio and the Spartans' fanbase has been looking for, then redshirt be damned and full steam ahead with Terry at the helm.
With the bulk of Michigan State's tough schedule just over the horizon, something needs to be done... and fast.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.