Back in the spring we warned everyone against assuming that Tyler O’Connor was going to be your starting quarterback. That had a lot to do with remembering our history all the way back to the spring of 2013 and the assumption that Andrew Maxwell was the answer the Spartans needed at quarterback.
That assumption lasted all of one-and-a-half games, as Maxwell was clearly outperformed on the field in games that mattered by some guy named Connor Cook. Fast forward three offseasons and here we are with another similar battle at hand.
The assumption out of spring was that senior Tyler O’Connor had the job as the starter all but wrapped up, with expected battler Damion Terry battling for his secondary position let alone with O’Connor at the top of the depth chart.
However, since the start of fall camp it appears the competition is as dogged as it was back in 2013 — with O’Connor and Terry neck-and-neck through the first week or so of camp. According to an MLive.com report, the two most veteran quarterbacks on the roster have started to separate from the rest of the competition.
“I think there’s a little bit of movement, I think you see the two older guys separate a little bit this past scrimmage,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “But that’s not to say that the other guys won’t have a great week this week, so it’s a little hard, there.”
Michigan State coaches have steadfastly said a starter will be named when the coaches are comfortable, and that sounds an awfully lot like what took place in 2013 as well. Dantonio said back then that Andrew Maxwell was the leader out of the spring, but that Cook could indeed win the job.
Dantonio says Maxwell will start camp No 1 but if Cook can clean up mistakes "he's right there."
— Joe Rexrode (@joerexrode) April 20, 2013
As spring turned in to fall camp, Cook had indeed caught up to Maxwell, but the coaching staff went with the more senior player for the opener against Western Michigan.
The only differences between the two quarterback battles is that O’Connor has more game experience than Maxwell does and that this time around no coach was going to name a leader after the spring.
Much like the 2013 battle, it seems as if the coaching staff values game management over potential dynamics when looking at who will win this battle.
“I think that it’s game management and consistency in game management and decision making that separates older players from younger players at times,” Dantonio said. “But the more you play as a younger player, the more you’re going to catch up I guess.”
One will see things eerily similar in the opener this season if the battle continues the way it has all camp long. With a home opener against Furman before a date with rival Notre Dame, Michigan State will need to figure out its quarterback situation or it could be a long season in East Lansing.
Perhaps the bigger question at hand is if this battle will go in to the season ala the 2013 battle, and we’re not so sure real answers will come until well after the Furman game thanks to the disparity in competition.
Sound familiar? It should.