Through nine weeks of the college football season Michigan State fans have repeated two things over and over again – Brian Lewerke has as much talent as almost any quarterback in the nation, and Brian Lewerke keeps not living up to high expectations.
Unfortunately for MSU fans, this is something that likely won’t change this year, or during the rest of Lewerke’s time in East Lansing.
Almost none of this has anything to do with how the quarterback has actually played. Lewerke is an above average quarterback and ranks in the top half in the Big Ten in passing average, passing efficiency, and total offense. He’s led the Spartans to a 6-2 record, bowl eligible, and led the team in a win over Michigan.
But in the end, none of it has been enough.
Over the last 10 years, Michigan State fans have known only two worlds: NFL caliber quarterbacks, and quarterbacks that should spend their entire career as a backup.
Under Dantonio’s leadership, MSU has sent Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook, along with Drew Stanton before them, to the NFL. The only other quarterbacks to start games were Tyler O’Connor, Damion Terry, and Andrew Maxwell.
The divide between those quarterbacks is wide enough to fit all of Spartan Stadium.
And in that wide chasm of talent sits Brian Lewerke. Oh, and almost every other quarterback in the country.
Over Dantonio’s tenure, Michigan State fans have gotten so used to boom or bust quarterbacks that they seem to have forgotten what a normal college quarterback looks like. Every time Lewerke overthrows an open receiver, or makes a poor decision, Twitter lights up with “Connor Cook wasn’t still making these mistakes at this point.”
It REALLY feels that way, doesn’t it? Want to give Lewerke a chance, but I miss Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins. Just saying.— Jason Brunskowski (@JBrunskowski4) October 28, 2017
Lewerke still hasn't "taken over a game" like Cook did in 2013 vs Iowa.— SpartanWire (@SpartanWire) October 25, 2017
When will Lewerke take over a game? 9th start, 3 years in system.
Even when trying to compliment Lewerke, fans can’t seem to escape the shadow Cook and the others left over the program. They can’t help but compare every move Lewerke makes to what Cook did in 2012 or 2013.
The premise of the entire thing isn’t wasted on Dantonio.
Dantonio asked to compare Lewerke to other QB as sophomores: "Connor Cook went 13-1, so that’s the standard." (Yes, he was smiling)— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) October 1, 2017
This type of thinking is absurd, even for college football fans. To expect a quarterback to mirror that of his predecessor, no matter who that may be, is ridiculous. To expect him to replicate a player currently in the NFL is just too much.
Unfortunately, for both Lewerke and Spartans fans, the level of quarterback play likely isn’t going to change this season. Even if Lewerke does make improvements, it will be almost impossible for him to live up to the inflated status left by the now NFL quarterbacks.
Who knows, maybe Lewerke puts it all together and continues MSU’s streak of dominant signal callers. But with that unlikely, State fans need to start remembering what a normal quarterback looks like.