All season long, junior quarterback Brian Hoyer said he has been flipping through his TV stations trying to find the Boston College games.
He watched as Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan drove his team to two fourth-quarter touchdown drives in a come-from-behind 14-10 win against Virginia Tech. He paid close attention to Ryan’s mechanics, admiring the little things like his footwork.
Come Dec. 28 when MSU plays No. 14 Boston College in the Champs Sports Bowl, Hoyer will get to watch him from the sidelines.
“It’s kind of funny how it all played out that I get a chance to play against him,” he said.
Hoyer said that while it’s not going to be a direct challenge, since he isn’t actually playing on the opposing side of the football, facing off against Ryan will give him extra motivation to play at a high level.
“He’s kind of proven what he’s been able to do, and I feel like I still have stuff left to prove,” Hoyer said.
“To go against a guy of his caliber you kind of want to step your game up,” he said. “Everybody is going to be watching him so you want to kind of prove something too.”
Ryan has been a contender for the Heisman Trophy for much of the season, but fell out of contention while the Eagles struggled, losing three of their last five games. His 4,258 passing yards rank third in the nation.
In Hoyer’s first full year as a starter, he threw for 2,594 yards for 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions, ranking him second in the Big Ten in passer efficiency.
With one year under his belt and one more to go, Hoyer said he knows he has some work to do, grading himself a “C or a B-.”
“There’s definitely a lot of stuff that I want to improve on, and that I can improve on,” he said.
Practicing the fundamentals
With their bowl invitation, the Spartans have an additional month of practices added on to their season, and Hoyer said it feels a lot like spring practices.
The team has been practicing on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and the second and third string players have gotten a lot of reps – including freshman backup quarterbacks Nick Foles and Kirk Cousins, Hoyer said.
With coaches sometimes away from practice on recruit visits, it has given the team leaders some extra responsibility, he said.
“Really it’s been the upperclassmen’s opportunity to take charge of practice and help the younger guys out,” Hoyer said.
Freshman linebacker Greg Jones said the practices are helping him get back to the basics of playing his position.
“A lot of times with the new teams, every week we would have to adjust,” Jones said. “But it (was) really good to go back to the basics.”
Hungry for more
When the team came back from Thanksgiving break, junior defensive lineman Justin Kershaw said pretty much everyone was still in good shape, except for his roommate, senior defensive lineman Ogemdi Nwagbuo.
“I think OG was out of shape, he was really out of shape but everybody else has been all right,” Kershaw said. “He came home with me, he really ate me out of the house and home, that’s what my dad said.”