Calm and steady: Lewerke improves decision-making despite offense's struggles
It’s only four games into the season, but under the microscope of a wanting fan base, the Spartan faithful has already made its impression on the man under center, quarterback Brian Lewerke.
MSU fans have seen the good, there’s no denying that. His chemistry with Felton Davis III against Iowa was easily apparent. Other times, he’s scrambling for long gains on the ground.
And late in the game facing those Hawkeyes, when the Spartans needed him most, he delivered in the clutch.
Lewerke and the offense faced a crucial third-and-12 with just 3:38 left in the contest. Convert it: Keep the ball and continue to bleed the clock. Fail, then Iowa gets roughly three minutes at a chance to score the game-tying touchdown.
So the quarterback did what he does, tucked the ball and ran with it. A 15-yard gain later, the Spartans had what they needed — the first down.
“He took a big step,” co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner said. “I told him that after the game. I think he took a big step forward today as far as being the quarterback that we need him to be. We just need him to keep going in that direction.”
As he stood up to the roar of the Spartan Stadium crowd, he pointed down the field, signifying the first down. And that’s the good with Lewerke, he’s consistently showed he has the ability to make plays.
Except Lewerke’s yin must match the yang. It’s the part of his game that frustrates fans, whether it be poor decisions or the turnovers. Look no further than the Notre Dame game, his interception returned for a touchdown coupled with a fumble swung momentum.
Turnover margin as a whole was a key point for the Spartans heading into their Big Ten opener. That effect wasn’t lost on Lewerke either, a point of emphasis he’s tried to make, he said.
“I think he learned a lot from last week and I think that tonight he did a really good job,” tight end Matt Sokol said. “As the season goes on and he gets more starts and more time out there, along with myself, I just think he's going to keep growing as a player along with the rest of our offense and I'm really excited for that.”
Following MSU’s gritty win over the Hawkeyes, Lewerke didn’t hesitate in saying the defense played better than his offense. After all, Lewerke and company were held scoreless in the second half.
Thought the offense's struggles weren't just on him. The rushing game never got going, collecting just 88 yards on the ground. Lewerke led the Spartans in the stat again, though he ran for only 42 yards.
“I think their game plan was to stack the box and make me use my arm to win,” Lewerke said. “I think they did a decent job with that. I think the receivers stepped up and made the plays when they needed to, and when that happens you're going to win the game."
All in all, Lewerke had a strong game throwing the ball. He finished 18 of 28 for 212 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Though the numbers don’t pop out, the lack of turnovers was an improvement for the young quarterback.
“I think I made good decisions, when to throw the ball, when to force and when to not,” Lewerke said. “Obviously, we have no turnovers today, so it was a big plus.”