Monday, June 17, 2024

Starting quarterback still up in the air, Stanton back in mix

September 9, 2004
Senior quarterback Damon Dowdell looks to make a pass Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. Dowdell completed 22 of his 39 passes for a total of 270 yards, but it wasn't enough to overcome Rutgers. MSU lost, 14-19.

Senior Damon Dowdell is MSU's starting quarterback, but as ESPN college football analyst Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast my friend."

For the second straight week, head coach John L. Smith said he would not name a starter until Saturday.

Last week, Smith said he made a decision by Wednesday that Dowdell would start over redshirt freshman Stephen Reaves.

This week, however, sophomore Drew Stanton returns to the mix. Smith said all three were on a clean slate and he is not leaning toward any one player.

Smith said Dowdell's performance against Rutgers was "OK." Dowdell was 22-for-39 for 270 yards, with one interception and two touchdowns. It was his seventh career start.

"Just OK is not acceptable," Smith said. "(Dowdell) still has to make some throws and some plays, but he needs some help, too."

Stanton's knee is getting better, but when it will heal enough for him to actually play is the question Smith cannot answer. Smith has been told by doctors that as Stanton's knee wears as it heals, and fragments fall off. The fragments then catch in the lining of the knee and swells up. Doctors also told Smith this is a normal part of the healing process.

After limited practice last week, Stanton has now begun getting ready for Saturday, along with Reaves and Dowdell.

"Basically, I just want to get ready to play and do everything I can and show the coaches that I'm capable of playing at this point," Stanton said.

"I don't think I'm too far away (from being able to play) at all, if any distance away."

As of Tuesday's practice, Stanton said Reaves and Dowdell were getting more snaps than he was. Reaves added he and Dowdell were rotating in and out with the first team offense.

Reaves said opening the season on the road might have been a factor in not starting, and he is more ready this weekend at home.

"You know, if they do call my number - I'll be ready for it," Reaves said.

Smith said it is highly unlikely fans will see all three quarterbacks against Central Michigan on Saturday. He said the best situation would be for two of the three players to play.

"You always like to play two from the standpoint of, best case scenario - that if you are playing two, then you're probably ahead, no one's hurt and you're doing good things," Smith said.

Smith and the players still feel the quarterback uncertainty is not an issue with the team. All the players have confidence in the quarterbacks, and they have confidence in themselves, Smith said.

It was clear Smith wants to find a No. 1 quarterback for the rest of the season soon.

"I think it's important," Smith said. "We need to find out where we are (by Sept. 18)."

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