Back in August when the Spartans were midway through fall camp, offensive coordinator Dan Roushar began to see growth in his starting quarterback.
Following the team’s first scrimmage — in which junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell was 16-of-29 for 162 yards — Roushar met with the media and divulged Maxwell had not thrown an interception in about five or six practices.
“I think his decision-making process has gotten better,” Roushar said at the time. “His accuracy has gotten better … He’s making good checks at the line of scrimmage and shown a lot more poise and confidence.”
Now midway through the season, the Spartans have seen similar production from their first-year starting quarterback. After throwing three interceptions in the first half of the season opener against Boise State, Maxwell has not been picked off since, having thrown the ball 203 times without a turnover.
The NCAA record for most consecutive passes thrown without an interception is held by then-North Carolina State quarterback Russell Wilson, who threw the ball 379 times without getting picked off.
Of those 203 passes, 116 have been completed and after Saturday’s 31-27 victory in Bloomington, Ind., in which Maxwell was 24-40 for 290 yards and two touchdowns, the Midland, Mich., native appears to finally have found his rhythm with his receiving corps.
Through the first five games of the season, Maxwell’s receivers struggled to hold onto the ball, with most of the scrutiny directed at junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler.
Fowler lost his starting job for the Indiana game, replaced by true freshman Aaron Burbridge who hauled in eight passes for 134 yards, garnering him Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
Still, Fowler had MSU’s play of the game when he scored a 36-yard fourth-quarter touchdown that eventually would be the difference maker.
“I told Bennie right after (the touchdown), ‘I’m so proud of you man,’” Maxwell recalled after the game. “Just like I told you guys on Tuesday, don’t expect this to be the last of Bennie Fowler, don’t expect him to lay down, and what a huge play when we needed it.”
Fowler said the touchdown was a big moment for him, but not for personal reasons. Instead, he put the focus on what the moment meant for the team, and praised the play of Burbridge, as well as his fellow receivers.
“I would say this is the best we’ve played as a wide receiver group,” Fowler said.
“We played well, (didn’t have) many drops, (and) we were out there having fun playing together.”