Maxwell maintains hold on QB competition

The Spartans bring four options at quarterback into fall camp and while the returning starter, Andrew Maxwell, holds the lead, the battle continues.

The quarterback battle at Michigan State was a focus on spring football and that battle continues into the fall.

The coaches continue to evaluate and spend time after each practice looking at what their quarterbacks are doing day to day.

"Every day our quarterbacks are graded, filmed and graded, with the opportunity of presenting themselves," head coach Mark Dantonio said. "I don't care who we play, I love all our guys, their job is to play and we will play the best guy.

"Our quarterback position needs to play well and if one guy will do that better than another guy, we will make the move. I also want to see how people react given the opportunity to run with the first offense. I wanted to see how the first-team quarterback reacts when he does have to run with the second-team offense. What's his demeanor? How does he carry himself? We are looking for reactions all the time."

As reactions are a focus of the coaches, in particular Dave Warner and Brad Salem, the coaches look to draw the true colors of a player out and test what they are made of.

"We are trying to press buttons that create anxiety," Dantonio said. "I want to see how they play when there is a lot of anxiety, because that's what this game is – especially at that position. When you get to game day, there is going to be anxiety, so we are trying to create that as much as we can in practice."

As it progresses, the competition isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, as the Spartans actually have a few viable options at the quarterback spot.

"Our quarterback position is much stronger than it was last year," Dantonio said. "Last year, we really had a couple of young players. We had a true freshman coming in in Tyler O'Connor. He had a lot of reps in the spring.

"We had Connor Cook with one year under his belt, now he has experience. We had Andrew Maxwell as our starter, but he had limited experience. Now he has 13 games of starting experience. Damion Terry comes in as a true freshman. … What they do collectively in August will really determine as we move forward."

Entering fall camp, Maxwell still holds the top spot on the depth chart, but it seems that gap has closed.

"Right now, Andrew is our number one quarterback," Dantonio said. "He's got a great deal of experience and a lot of confidence right now. With that said, Connor Cook has played as everybody knows, and I think that's a big positive for us."

While Maxwell holds the edge, Cook, for his part, has been pushing harder for playing time of late, spending time practicing with quarterback guru George Whitfield in California.

"He's working out with some people this summer," Dantonio said. "He took a week and went out and did some things, much like a lot of our players have done in the past – spending a week with a specific quarterback coach or group of punters or those type of things."

So, as Cook returns this fall after some additional work and the incumbent Maxwell holds strong, has Maxwell outperformed Cook so far?

"I think he has," Dantonio said. "I think he has in the spring game. The first throw was right on the money if the receiver catches the ball.

"The most impressive thing that Andrew did was, the corner came off the edge and had a vicious hit. He gets up and finishes the scrimmage and takes the team down and scores a touchdown.

"Those are the type of things I am looking for. Those are the things that are meaningful for me as we move through this process."


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