August 20, 2012

O-Notes: Maxwell eyes Boise State

EAST LANSING - Andrew Maxwell sat down to speak with reporters on Monday with a gallon jug of water in one hand and a half-eaten banana in the other.

The last of two pre-season scrimmages is behind them, as are two-a-days, but it still has the feel of training camp around here, with guys working to stay hydrated and taking in potasium to ward off cramps.

But Maxwell and the other quarterbacks got a preview of the first test of the season, Sunday night.

"In our quarterback meeting yesterday we flipped on some Boise film and that got me really pumped up because it finally hit me like it's here, it's less than two weeks away, it's football season," Maxwell said. "And when you have a team like this coming that in the last five or 10 years has been one of the top teams in the country, that's why you come to a place like this, to play in big games and start seasons off like this."

Much is made of Boise State's 73-6 record under coach Chris Peterson, and the offensive trickery that the Broncos have employed in becoming a national power. But there is reason to be impressed with Boise State's defense, which held Georgia to 13 first downs in a 35-21 mandhandling of the Bulldogs last year in the season opener at the Georgia Dome.

Is Boise State a halves or quarters or thirds zone team, or man-free man-to-man or two-deep man under?

Yep. Kinda. Or maybe none of it. Or all of it in between.

"Their defense is difficult because they don't really have a set base," Maxwell said. "They are so multiple in their fronts and in their personnel packages and their coverages and their blitzes.

"I think their philosophy is that they have had a lot of older guys play, and their older guys have been in the system and have matured and know it well and they can really do a lot of things and they play so well together. They have lost a lot of starters so it will be interesting to see with their new guys how much of that they will be able to do but I'm sure their coaching staff will be ready to play and they won't miss qhyMichigan State athletic director who scheduled the game. "For us, it's another game and we like playing in these big games and for it to be a team like this coming, we would rather play nobody else and play them right here."

Scrimmage Rewind

Maxwell and tight end Dion Sims continued to be the main discussion points, two days after each had a big day during Saturday's final Jersey Scrimmage of the preseason.

Maxwell completed 13-of-24 passes for 212 yards and one touchdown, while Sims had 10 receptions for 171 yards and a 12-yard TD grab.

Sources indicate that Maxwell did a good job of knowing when to throw balls away and not to force it. He avoided interceptions, which has been his mode all preseason.

Going 13-of-24 might not look like a great percentage, but when operating against one of the best secondaries in the country, there are going to be times when the primary and secondary receivers are not open and there is no time to find a third.

But when receivers were open, Maxwell was sharp.

"He was killing it," safety Jairus Jones said of Maxwell. "That's the best I've seen him in a while. All his passes were on point."

As for Sims, Maxwell offered this assessment:

"Finally you got a glimpse of what a healthy Dion Sims is capable of. We did hit like one or two big ones, but he got all those yards when you throw it to him for six yards and he runs for another 10 because of his speed, his agility and his size. He's just tough to bring down. If he can stay healthy, which we expect him to do, he is going to be a weapon for us."

Mark Dantonio was impressed with Sims as well.

"I think he has matured," Dantonio said. "He is solid in his disposition, the way he carries himself on the field. His business-like attitude on the field. He is a very quiet guy. He is unassuming, for as big as he is. You don't know if he is in the room, but he's like that elephant in the room, he's there, I promise you."

Sims has 23 catches and six TDs in two seasons at Michigan State, but could be on the brink of a major breakthrough in 2012.

"We can use him in a lot of ways," Maxwell said. "With his speed, he can kind of take the top off a defense. We can use him as a vertical threat down the field or throw him a little stick or a hitch route and make people miss or run people over and make yards after the catch there.

"On top of that, he is a great blocker too. It's not like he is just going to be in for passing situations. We can use him in two-tight end sets for blocking. In the red zone he can body up a guy and go up and get it.

"If he can stay healthy this year, which we expect him to do, we can do a lot of things with him and he will be a big asset for our offense."

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