Maxwell holds lead for quarterback race, Cook not far behind
Andrew Maxwell is the leader in the clubhouse — at least for now.
Following the MSU football team’s annual Green and White spring game Saturday afternoon, head coach Mark Dantonio said the senior quarterback is at the top of the depth chart.
“You leave here at the end of spring saying that Maxwell comes into the summer camp No. 1 based on knowledge and consistency in terms of performance,” Dantonio said.
Maxwell finished the spring game 9-20 for 110 yards and a 46-yard, game-winning touchdown to sophomore wide receiver A.J. Troup with less than five minutes left in the game.
“I’ve done everything that I could do to make my case to the coaches that I’m the guy,” Maxwell said. “Everyday I came out and got better. I took a competitive mindset to each practice, but the ultimate decision is up to Coach D.”
The Midland, Mich., native started every game for the Spartans a season ago, but was replaced by sophomore quarterback Connor Cook in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
Cook led the Spartans on a game-winning drive in the bowl game.
He had 217 yards and one touchdown on 10-26 passing in the spring game, and said he tries to compete hard and be better than everyone else.
“Be better than (redshirt freshman Tyler) O’Conner, better than Maxwell,” Cook said. “In this job you just have to go out there and throw completions and make big plays; be a playmaker like coach says. Just go out there and have fun.”
He doesn’t want to call himself a gamer, but Cook said it’s like Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to his performance in practice and on the field.
“The main thing is I tend to lose focus in practice,” he said. “Then anytime it’s a game situation or it’s under the lights, I feel a different type of focus than I do in practice.”
Maxwell might be Dantonio’s guy at the moment, but he won’t rule out Cook, either.
In the fourth quarter, Cook, the more mobile of the quarterbacks, was flushed out of the pocket and avoided tacklers twice before being sacked 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.
Dantonio said those are the things that can’t happen, and part of the quarterback battle is learning from those mistakes.
“Connor Cook pushes (Maxwell), and quite frankly Cook doesn’t make mistakes that can be easily omitted,” Dantonio said. “He’s right there. Because I think he throws the ball and moves well in the pocket, but you can’t take a 5-yard loss and turn it into a 20-yard loss — you just can’t do that.”
Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner felt Maxwell was the starter going into the spring game, and felt he performed well enough to keep his job.
He likes to have the depth chart set after spring, but when the Spartans take the field at Spartan Stadium against Western Michigan on August 30 , it’s still up in the air who will be under center.
“At the same time it’s going to create a lot of competition through the summer,” Warner said. “Drive guys to prepare a little bit more for August when the jobs will be won.”