Last season was a rough one for Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke. He was behind a struggling offensive line, didn’t get much help from the run game and was hit by the injury bug throughout the year.

To say the least, Lewerke’s junior season didn’t go as planned. There were much higher expectations for a quarterback fresh off a season in which he threw for over 2,500 yards and rushed for more than 500 yards.

Michigan State’s offense suffered, too. Rutgers aside, Michigan State had the worst offensive team in the B1G in several aspects of the game, a characteristic Mark Dantonio is hoping will change this fall. Part of the resolution is improved play from Lewerke.

Dantonio thinks his senior leader is up to the challenge.

“(Brian Lewerke) Got hit a little bit with the injury bug midway through the season, but I think his confidence is back,” Dantonio said. “He certainly is back and healthy. He’s bigger and stronger, he’s faster, and he comes into his senior year with a tremendous amount of game experience.”

Lewerke battled a shoulder injury, something that many speculated bothered his performance throughout the year. He was sidelined during Michigan State’s victory over Purdue, forcing Dantonio to play backup Rocky Lombardi. While Lewerke played most of the year, his status rarely seemed to be 100 percent near the end of the campaign.

With an entire offseason to recoup and recover, Dantonio is confident that Lewerke can return to the type of player he was two seasons ago.

“Brian is our number one quarterback, and I expect great things from him,” Dantonio said, “and I expect him to return to his sophomore status, and very excited to watch him play.”

If Lewerke is at full strength, the Spartans will be a dangerous team in the B1G East. They return 20 starters from a year ago and have one of the nation’s toughest defense. It’s a matter of putting it all together offensively.

Lewerke is a huge part of that.