April 23, 2013

DotComp: Going Deep on the QB Question

EAST LANSING - Michigan State heads into the offseason with the quarterback question even murkier than it was coming off the curious bowl victory over TCU, but a tad more optimistic.

Coaches contend that the Spartan QB position has improved since late last season. Senior Andrew Maxwell has grown since last year's unsteadiness. Sophomore Connor Cook seems to be progressing toward becoming dangerous, play-making Big Ten quarterback some day.

The questions are: Has Maxwell has improved enough to produce more winning plays than a year ago? Has Cook arrived to the point that the reward in giving him the reigns to the offense will easily outdistance the risk of handing him the ball full-time?

Each quarterback will head into summer workers planning to prove their side of the argument. In August, the coaches will judge the progress made by their intriguing but imperfect quarterbacks.

The good news is that there might not be a wrong decision. Maxwell, through all of his growing pains a year ago, still managed to be a part of seven Michigan State victories, including comeback jobs against Boise State and Wisconsin, two pretty fair opponents. His ledger might also include a victory over Ohio State were it not for five (at least) dropped passes [plus a blown fumble recovery return for a TD] against the Buckeyes.

Everyone agrees that Maxwell improved this spring. If he takes continued improvement to the field in the fall, against a much weaker schedule, complemented by an even better defense, aided by presumably better wide receivers, then Michigan State is at least an 8-win team, right? Even without Le'Veon Bell. Eight wins probably wouldn't seem satisfactory right now to Dantonio. There is optimism that finding the correct answer at QB could be the key to nine or more wins.

If Cook were to get the starting nod this fall, Spartan fans would gain the temporary joy of seeing the deserving understudy take command. He would get unending support and confidence from the masses ... for at least 10 minutes.

What We Learned At QB

Based on what we've seen and heard around the Spartan football building over the past month, plus a bit of our own conjecture, the following is what we think we learned about the quarterback position during spring practice:

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