For Michigan State to be the B1G's best, Lewerke will have to be best QB
Brian Lewerke turned some heads at Michigan State a year ago. His 2017 season, quite frankly, was a pleasant surprise. He was a key piece in getting things turned back around for the Spartans, winning 10 games after that epic 2016 three-win disaster.
The numbers were nice when they were all added up: 2,793 yards passing with 20 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.
What was even more impressive were the numbers that followed the struggles, which inevitably come during any season. Remember that awkward three-game stretch in the middle of the season, when he threw for only 94, 120 and 185 yards against Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana? He followed that up with back-to-back 400-yard games, torching Northwestern (445 yards) and Penn State (400 yards).
And to be brutally honest, we can’t mention all that without the 48-3 disaster to Ohio State that followed. So what does that all mean for this year?
It’s this, quite simply: If Michigan State wants to win the B1G — and they have a legitimate shot — Lewerke is going to have to be the best quarterback in the league.
He’s going to need to win the showdown with Trace McSorley when the Spartans play Penn State (Oct. 13) and he’ll need to outplay Shea Patterson in the Michigan game (Oct. 20). Same with Dwayne Haskins and Ohio State (Nov. 10); it’s got to be on Lewerke.
He does that and the Spartans can win the B1G. And Lewerke might be in the Heisman Trophy mix.
Can he do it? Well, he does have all the individual tools, no doubt about it. And he does have help, with 10 starters returning on the Michigan State offense. That’s special.
He’s mobile and athletic, has plenty of arm strength, makes good decisions and isn’t afraid to take a shot now and then, all with the blessing of his head coach, Mark Dantonio.
Best of all, he makes people around him better, which might be the most important trait of all with a quarterback.
That’s why you can expect a big year from MSU’s wide receivers. Senior Felton Davis, redshirt junior Darrell Stewart Jr. and sophomore Cody White combined for 140 catches for 1,767 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2017 and they’re all back in 2018.
Lewerke loves them.
“I think we have the best receiving corps in the Big Ten,” he said last week, “if not the nation.”
Experience between quarterback and wide receiver is critical, and these guys have all been through the battles together. That’s why they’re really ready to go in 2018. September can’t get here soon enough,
“I can trust them to catch the ball, I know that they’re going to run the right route,” Lewerke said. “I know each of their individual personalities — the starting three — just kind of how they run their route, how they get open and what they’re looking at and I can kind of predict what they’re do almost before they do it. It helps me a lot, it helps me get my timing down. I can get the ball out early and still be accurate.”