After a broken leg brought his promising 2016 season to a screeching halt, Brian Lewerke now enters the 2017 season with plenty of confidence and looking to pick up right where he left off following a strong spring.
A season ago, Lewerke was a part of a 3-man rotation at with Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry, but Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has no such plans for 2017 after tabbing Lewerke to be the team’s starting signal caller when the Spartans open up the season against Bowling Green on September 2nd.
“It was pretty awesome for me, my dad was pretty ecstatic too,” Lewerke said of being named the starter. “I think it definitely boosted my confidence and made me play a little bit more confidently. It definitely made me work harder to train and make sure I maintained that. Obviously that can change at any point throughout the season and especially up until the fall so that’s something I’m still trying to improve on.”
Now that he has emerged as the starting quarterback and having the full support of the Michigan State coaching staff, Lewerke added that he feels it will help him form sound on-field relationships with the rest of the team moving forward.
“I think the guys look up to me a lot more now that they know this is the guy that the coaches want in there,” he said. “It helps them form a relationship around the guy, so I think it’s good.”
Lewerke suffered his season ending injury in the fourth quarter of the Michigan game where he threw for 100 yards and a touchdown after entering the game in relief of O’Connor. For the season, Lewerke completed 31-of-57 passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns.
The now redshirt sophomore said that it was disappointing for his season come to an end the way it did, noting that he felt he made a good amount of progress between his first career start against Northwestern and the Michigan game.
“In the Northwestern game – near the end of the game – I think I was kind of getting out of the pocket a little too quickly and I proved a little bit in the Maryland game and when I was able to come in in the Michigan game, I think I was able to make a good amount of plays,” he said. “It was unfortunate that I got hurt, I was on the right track to improve my game so it was kind of unfortunate to get hurt.”
While he felt his play was improving throughout his final three appearances of the season, Lewerke was still somewhat unsure of where he stood with where he stood in the rotation in 2016.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even sure,” he said. “Coach D, obviously was rotating through guys, whoever was hot, so I’d like to think that I was playing pretty well and I might have been able to keep going, but ultimately, it’s up to him.”
But after spending six weeks with his leg in a cast, Lewerke went into the spring without any limitations and looked every part of the role of starting quarterback.
In the spring game, Lewerke threw for over 300 yards and a touchdown while completing 25 of his 44 pass attempts, which earned him high praise from Dantonio.
“I think it definitely put confidence in me,” he said. “He had told me in a meeting just with him that I was the guy and for him to come out publicly and say that was very big for my confidence.”
Along with building his confidence, Lewerke has also put time and effort into taking a larger leadership role on this year’s team after the Spartans lost several key leaders off of last year’s team.
Lewerke cited the fact that this year’s Michigan State team will be relatively young and inexperienced has prompted him to be more of a leader.
“I think personally, it’s been a lot better for me (in terms of) leadership,” he said. “Us being a young team, there’s more people my age, so it’s easier for me to step up and lead. Otherwise you have older guys above you and it’s kind of hard to step over them and try to lead, so I think for me it’s been really good.”
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