Thursday, June 4, 2020

Column: Justin Fields outshines seasoned MSU captain

Lewerke hit his peak

October 7, 2019
<p>Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) sits on the field after being sacked by the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes defeated the Spartans, 34-10, on Oct. 5, 2019 at Ohio Stadium.</p>

Senior quarterback Brian Lewerke (14) sits on the field after being sacked by the Ohio State defense. The Buckeyes defeated the Spartans, 34-10, on Oct. 5, 2019 at Ohio Stadium.

Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

There’s no doubt Spartan quarterback Brian Lewerke is playing some of the best football in his career, but juxtaposed to a league leader like Buckeye quarterback Justin Fields, can Lewerke still hold his own?

No. 4 Ohio State shut down Michigan State 34-10 Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. This match-up was a big test for both teams, as MSU has snatched an underdog win in the past. This year is different, though. OSU has Fields.

“When (Fields) needed to, he did a good job with his feet,” Buckeye coach Ryan Day said. “He had 84 yards rushing. Those were big yards. The impact he can have is huge, as you can see.”

Not only was Fields able to conquer because of his raw talent, but OSU running backs J.K. Dobbins and Master Teague also executed on the field.

Although Lewerke had trouble completing passes, going 20-for-38 with one interception, most of that falls on the receivers. Lewerke made crisp passes at the right moments, but due to dropped passes and fumbles, the Spartans struggled to make bigger drives. 

"I thought Lewerke played pretty well," Dantonio said. "Put the ball on the money."

Fields, the sophomore transfer from Georgia, has just one and a half years under his belt playing college football. Meanwhile, seasoned senior Lewerke has played in 34 games thus far. Knowing they have a completely different amount of experience may help compare these two players.

Lewerke boasts a total of 7,792 offensive yards since his freshman year. He has completed 57% of his passes (585 of 1,025) in his career for 6,757 yards. Lewerke is the tenth MSU quarterback to hit 5000 career passing yards. 

Fields has a combined total of 2,165 offensive yards from his year at Georgia and his six OSU games this season. Fields completed 27-for-39 passes for 328 yards last year. Now, just six games in at OSU, he is 98-for-141 passing attempts for 1,298 total yards.

"I told coach Day before the game," Dantonio said. "I said, '[Fields is] a little bit like Braxton Miller or J.T. Barrett and like [Dwayne] Haskins as well.' So he's equally a threat. ... He's a dynamic player."

Fields has been able to produce results immediately unlike Lewerke, who struggled in the beginning of his college football career. After pulling pieces from the 34-10 loss to Ohio State, Fields is the overall better performer. Although Lewerke was able to keep up with him, Fields' rushing game is what makes him so dangerous.

“When you’re out there,” Fields said. “You’re not really thinking about running a lot. So I’m just doing what I have to do to help the team win.”

Bottom line, I believe Fields has untouched potential that is slowly being uncovered by the Ohio State program. Meanwhile, Lewerke has hit his peak as a college football quarterback.

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