With three quarterbacks that took snaps during the 2015 season, Michigan State saw their proven winner deliver and his backup provide enough to help them continue their march to a second Big Ten Championship.
Michigan State quarterbacks attempted 439 passes during the 2015 season. The only problem looking forward is the fact departing signal caller Connor Cook attempted 408 of them. So we start or report card looking at the play of one of the most decorated players in Spartan football history.
The Ohio native would end the season in a loss against Alabama in the Cotton Bowl. However, you can’t take away his 34 victories as a starting quarterback that included going 23-2 against Big Ten opponents.
In 2015 Cook posted almost the same numbers he posted during his junior season while going 11-2 as the Spartans starter.
There is no mistake Cook’s talents will be missed going into the 2016 season and many may feel the Spartans could be in a worst situation than they were when Kirk Cousins left the program.
How do you replace a quarterback that has taken the majority of snaps for the past three seasons and leaves with the most wins by an MSU quarterback while also ranking among the program's all-time leaders in touchdown passes, total offense, 300-yard passing games, 200-yard passing games, passing yards, passing efficiency, pass attempts, pass completions and pass completion percentage?
Cook’s career did not have the storybook ending many wanted, but his final season saw him finish 9th in the Heisman voting and he earned his second Big Ten Championship MVP award to go with first-team All-Big Ten (Big Ten QB of the Year) and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award winner.
Spartan Digest final grade for Cook’s performance during the 2015 season is a solid “A”.
No matter what Tyler O’Connor does for the rest of his MSU career no one can take away his play against Ohio State in the Spartans upset win over the Buckeyes on the road.
However, O’Connor only attempted 24 passes on the season with two touchdowns and one interception. Everyone knew when O’Connor entered a game he was planning to hand the ball off until Cook returned to the field.
O’Connor did what his coaches asked and on the win over the Buckeyes alone we give the Ohio native a grade of “A”.
It should be expected O’Connor will enter the spring with a slight advantage but he’ll be pushed hard to hold onto any chance of being the team’s starting quarterback by the time the 2016 season starts.
Much like O’Connor, Damion Terry had a specific role and teams knew it when he entered the game. Only attempting seven passes, Terry was used as a wildcat quarterback posting 68 yards rushing on 21 attempts. Many expected more out of Terry in these situations and for that we hand him a grade of “C” for the season.
Can Terry push O’Connor for the starting job in 2016?
Does Brian Lewerke push forward to surpass both veteran quarterbacks?
Spartan Digest will be watching when spring gets here to see how Lewerke and early enrollee Messiah deWeaver perform when given the chance.