August 19, 2013

Dantonio on QB's: 'It's a four-man race'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State's second jersey scrimmage was expected to add clarity to the competition for the starting job at quarterback.

But what had been a three-man race between Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook, and Tyler O'Connor has expanded to four after true freshman Damion Terry's impressive scrimmage performance on Saturday.

"It's not that complicated," said Dantonio, assessing Terry's performance. "You are going to play the guys that move the football down the field, that don't make mistakes, that can create. I've said that all along and he demonstrated that."

"I hate to say it's a four-man race."

Terry led the Spartan offense to a comeback victory in Michigan State's final training camp scrimmage with 280 yards of total offense while taking snaps with the ones, twos and threes.

Terry was 10-of-14 for 240 yards passing in the scrimmage. He added 40 more yards on 12 rushes.

"Realistically, we have to see if he is consistent with the performance he displayed on Saturday, and we're going to find that out," said Dantonio. "I think that's what we have to look at: Is it a one-time thing? Or is there consistency there?

"I think when you have a freshman, the learning curve is so big, where you're at on practice one, two, three, four and five is distinctly different from where you're at on practice 16, 17, 18, 19. And that's what we have to find out because we need consistency there.

"But there is no question he made some plays. He made some big-time throws. That's exciting to watch."

Terry began the scrimmage with the threes. He finished with the ones.

"As the scrimmage progressed he did well with the threes, so I sort of shrugged my shoulders and put him with the twos," said Dantonio. "Then I sort of shrugged my shoulders and put him with the ones."

All quarterbacks were live in the jersey scrimmage.

"I think we needed to do that, especially with (Terry)," said Dantonio. "We did that with some of the other quarterbacks as well. We probably went about less than half, but more than a third of practice was live with the quarterbacks."

One loud scrimmage does not mean that Terry will start as a true freshman.

But Dantonio isn't ready to rule out that possibility.

"Tough to say right now because we don't have this next week and a half in the bank," said Dantonio. "What we have seen is he made plays in the scrimmage. He throws a good ball. He made plays with his feet. That's all you could assess.

"You can assess that at the beginning of the scrimmage it was a three-horse race and at the end of the scrimmage it was a four-horse race. I think that's the fair thing to assess right now. Tom Izzo plays a freshman point guard all the time. All the time. Right? When that guy asserts himself and takes control of the football team or the basketball team, that's the guy who's going to play, I don't care if he's a senior, a sophomore, a junior, a redshirt freshman or freshman. That's the best thing to do."

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