After a week off, Michigan State returns to the football field Saturday against Notre Dame in East Lansing. Taking on the Fighting Irish will be Michigan State’s biggest test of 2017 by a wide margin, and much of that responsibility is placed on QB Brian Lewerke.
The sophomore quarterback has been more than serviceable in the first two games of the year against Bowling Green and Western Michigan. But he definitely hasn’t played a perfect game. Lewerke has struggled with consistency and getting off to slow starts. His accuracy has also been an issue, leaving him open to injuries.
Lewerke is averaging more than 200 yards through the air so far with four total passing touchdowns and only one interception. He was kept more in check by a stronger Western Michigan secondary. But just as importantly, Lewerke has proven to be a real threat in the running game. The quarterback ran for 81 yards against Western and scored two touchdowns. His ability to run will force defenses to keep an extra defender in the box.
Notre Dame comes into the game 2-1, losing to Georgia at home and bouncing back against Boston College in a less-than-perfect blowout win.
At initial glance, the Irish defense looks solid, but considering the opponents there are plenty of holes to be taken advantage of. A freshman quarterback led Georgia to a win in South Bend and allowed BC to throw two touchdowns and more than 200 yards through the air, although ND did intercept two passes.
Lewerke’s Notre Dame counterpart, Brandon Wimbush, has a similar skillset. While Lewerke may be the slightly better passer, Wimbush is one of the most dangerous running quarterbacks in the country.
If Lewerke can continue to improve the way he has so far, he has more than enough talent to get MSU a victory, even if he’s put in a position where they need to pass the ball.