Arguably the biggest question mark coming into the Michigan State 2017 season was the quarterback position. While there was no question that Brian Lewerke would start, no one could confidently predict how the redshirt sophomore would play.
Lewerke had his struggles, but was able to fight through and put together a strong performance. His backup, however, can’t say the same thing. If nothing else, both players made it clear there is no quarterback controversy heading into Week 2.
Starter: Brian Lewerke (22-33, 3TD, 0INT, 93.8QBR)
The nerves definitely got to Lewerke early in the Spartans’ Week 1 win over Bowling Green. Despite a great stat line and a 35-10 win, Lewerke missed more than a few opportunities.
On the first play of the game, Lewerke under threw a wide open Felton Davis III on what could have been a touchdown. His inaccuracy made downfield passing all but impossible through the first quarter. But by the second quarter, Lewerke found a rhythm and was spreading the ball around to different receiving options.
Just as importantly, Lewerke showed a strong ability to make plays on the ground. He finished with a team-high 69 yards on eight runs, many coming off of scrambles. Anything he can do to ease some of the coverage downfield will help in the Big Ten.
Lewerke finished with a pair of touchdown passes to Davis and one more to tight end Matt Sokol. But Darrell Stewart Jr. was Lewerke’s favorite target, with six catches for 85 yards.
Backup: Damion Terry (0-3 0TD, 0INT, 0.4QBR)
By the end of the day on Saturday, Terry was closer to third-string than starter. The senior was so bad that Mark Dantonio brought Lewerke back into the game in the fourth quarter after two failed Terry drives.
To be fair, one of the drives ended on an LJ Scott fumble, but the offense looked all out of sorts with Terry in the game. Terry returned to the game late in the fourth quarter with more of the same.
Terry is still likely going to be Lewerke’s backup against Western Michigan, Dantonio gave him a vote of confidence in his Tuesday press conference. But if Terry continues to play this way, it may not be long before Messiah deWeaver gets an opportunity.
Week 2 Matchup
At first look, it would seem that the Western Michigan defense is ready to be taken advantage of. The Broncos let up 49 points against USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold. But Darnold had very little to do with the Trojans success.
Western Michigan didn’t allow a passing touchdown against USC and intercepted Darnold twice with a forced fumble on top of that.
Lewerke and Michigan State will lean heavily on Scott and the running game. For Lewerke to have a successful second game, he will need to play conservative, but hit his open passes when available.