With Big Ten Media Days upon us we have officially hit the barrier from off-season to pre-season. There is usually very little to be learned from the media days, as everyone is trying to put the best face on everything. There was one quote from yesterday that got me thinking though, and it was this one from Mark Dantonio talking about Brian Lewerke:
All Daft Punk references aside, this quote got me thinking again about the MSU quarterback situation and what we should expect coming off last year’s debacle on offense. In these thoughts I keep coming back to the same place, maybe foolishly so, and that is a place of optimism.
Obviously, the offense was a disaster last year. I spent the better part of the season documenting the struggles in both the film room series, and in just a general statistical breakdown. It was awful, and it had been trending in that direction for the last few seasons.
The answer from the coaching side was to play musical chairs with the offensive staff and their roles. Will it work out? I don’t have a clue, but I have a hard time believing it will be worse, mostly because I can’t imagine anything that bleak on a warm summer day like today.
But there is reason to be hopeful, and it starts with Brian Lewerke. Remember that at this time last year there were articles being written touting Lewerke as a potential high NFL draft pick and dark horse Heisman candidate. Those look like ridiculously bad takes now, but there was plenty of reason to think that Lewerke was capable of putting up big numbers based on his performance as a sophomore.
So when I hear that he is bigger, stronger, and most interesting of all, faster, I think the potential is there for that next level to be reached.
Dantonio also said he has his confidence back. This is as important as anything in my opinion. Last year I was very critical of the way the coaching staff handled the quarterback situation, and I thought it was terribly unfair to Lewerke specifically. He was played when he shouldn’t have been, and put into no win situations time and time again. He looked deflated and exasperated, and I didn’t blame him.
A fresh start with him this year with no quarterback controversy heading into camp might be the best thing for him. Combine that with a new playcaller, who hopefully will better use the skills of all the players on offense, and Lewerke could easily replicate his sophomore numbers, if not surpass them.
This is a deep offensive group returning. The wide receiver corps may have lost Felton Davis, but Cody White, Darrell Stewart, Jalen Nailor and Cam Chambers are a solid group. The offensive line is bigger and more experienced, which should help the running game as well.
And not to be under looked, the defense is likely to be top-10 nationally, which means the margin for error on offense is a little bigger.
I don’t expect MSU to be an offensive juggernaut, that just isn’t really in their make-up, at least not yet. But I do believe that Lewerke will be a positive driving force for the offense, and not a liability or something to overcome.
He’s a playmaker, he showed us that before. That kind of thing doesn’t just magically disappear. If the coaches let him play, he’s going to make plays. And when Brian Lewerke is making big plays happen, the Spartans are winning ball games. Don’t forget the last time he was probably healthy last season, when he led a last second drive at Happy Valley to knock off Penn State. He made some big time throws and made things happen and MSU won the game. That guy is still there.
So if 2019 Brian Lewerke is going to be a bigger, stronger, and faster version of 2017 Brian Lewerke, well I am really excited to see what that guy can do.