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Monday, August 19, 2013

Why Maxwell 2013 is Not the Same Guy from the 2012 Roster. Will Get Coach D's Nod.

{See the "Was I wrong?" post after two games into the season.}

Maxwell vs Cook has evolved into Andrew Maxwell vs True Freshman Damion Terry.
Most observers feel that the coaches have until the Notre Dame game to get it figured out.
M-Live asked who readers thought would "win" the QB competition. They did NOT ask who the readers WANTED to win.

Before we get into that, let's offer some context.

I have posted a variety of angles on "the Maxwell subject" since the wheels seemed to come off the bus last least year. The main theme is that the offense is an ecosystem and Maxwell was part of that inter-connected system, but far from the primary contaminant - he was just the easiest, most visible one to blame for the stench. It seems information from camp and the off-season is supporting the concept that Maxwell had little support other than Bell and the rare time Sims was healthy.

Prior to the end of last season I offered reasons for great optimism about the Spartans' future even though things looked bleak after the Spartans gift wrapped a game for the chUMps in last few seconds of a loss. A central point of that post was due to the fact that the 2012 team had very few seniors and was a junior laden team. 2013 would be experienced and mature, a point Dantonio has highlighted repeatedly this summer.

As fans have started to sort through all the smoke, they are starting to see that this 2013 team just might be special. Excitement is starting to build. Several national publications rank the Spartans in the mid-teens heading into the campaign and each report is met with much scoffing from Ann Arbor College fans who lost even more from their 8-win team than we lost from our 7-win team. Immediately following the 2011 Big Ten Championship Game I entered a post that essentially planted our S flag in the ground in Indy for the 2013 Championship Game, (see "You heard it here first") because of a senior heavy team and a 5th year senior QB. I did question what would happen in 2012 (although I was way more optimistic than the actual outcome warranted). I basically called 2012 the wild card year that would determine if MSU appears in the championship game 3-years in a row or just 2 out of 3 (2011 and 2013). I still think MSU is headed in that direction. It basically comes down to November 2nd (then you start looking at the Northwestern game and Nebraska game and so on, but it all starts with DUMPing the chUMps on 11/2/13). That is the most likely tipping point game.

As for current events, here is how I responded to the QB question posted on M-Live today:

Michigan State football QB derby: breakdown and poll, who do you think will start vs. Notre Dame?
I'll trust and support MD's choice, whatever it may be. From afar, we generate opinions. I don't pretend mine are the "right" ones. I think MD wants to avoid another year of a 1st year QB with limited game experience. He counts that as a big mistake he made in 2011 (not preparing Maxwell) and because of the close games it happened again in 2012. He'll take the predictability of the 5th year senior who had every possible bad break he could get last year and appeared to remain an excellent teammate and even respected leader in the locker room.

I don't think the 2012 Maxwell tells us what we have in the 2013 Maxwell at all. Just a few differences in Maxwell 2013 vs 2012:

  • 2012: Entered season coming off spring injury and missed practice time.
  • 2013: Healthy off season and live practices [took hits].

  • 2012: No competition for QB role
  • 2013: Heavy, intense competition for QB role

  • 2012: No/very little game experience entering season
  • 2013: A full year of adversity and experienced 3 close wins and the 5 close/winnable regular season losses.

  • 2012: O-Line with busted legs to starters and back ups to the back ups
  • 2013: O-Line an apparent strength on the team - starters and depth.

  • 2012: Receivers with under 300 yards of experience
  • 2013: ALL receivers back with a full year of experience

  • 2012: Receivers dropping passes and NOT making big catches to extend drives
  • 2013: Receivers who have supposedly fixed their issues

  • 2012: Receivers literally running routes, making it up at the line of scrimmage
  • 2013: Receivers who know the playbook and had a full off season to work

  • 2012: Defenses loading the box forcing bad down and distance situations when we ran or when we opted for an incomplete pass
  • 2013: Defenses that will have to respect a more balanced attack

  • 2012: MSU defense out on the field too much due to too many short possessions
  • 2013: Possible longer possessions due to all of the above.

  • 2012: Kind of a tough schedule with tough breaks/calls that never seemed to balance out
  • 2013: Comparatively easier schedule - time for the breaks to even out.

  • 2012: 2 seniors on the 2-deep depth chart (offense)
  • 2013: 7 seniors on the 2-deep depth chart (offense) - that is a huge thing.

[Add in a new offensive coordinator and tweaked system in 2013 and the newly discovered problem that receivers were not blocking down-field last year due to inexperience.]

Bottom line - Since the offense is an ecosystem where each part affects the other, I believe that the 2102 Maxwell with all 2012 circumstances is a different player than a 2013 Maxwell with all the apparent 2013 circumstances. I think MD looks at it like that and adds in what he sees each day in practice, but it gives Maxwell a HUGE leg up.

I believe the door is open this year to get back to the championship game and if I had to make the decision with the limited information I (WE) have, I'd have to go with the 5th year senior with game experience. I want Roses. Now.

You can follow my comments at M-Live in the resource found at the bottom each page of this blog, web version only (not available on mobile version or facebook page).

Let's get this party started!

What do you think about the QB race? Click on the comments link below.


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  1. NO QB experience coming into 2012. Maxwell had just over 170 yards passing in live games in 2011. Andrew comes back with 2700.

    Receivers with under 300 yards total experience in 2011 was actually 201. They come back now with over 2000.

    Might be worth mentioning that Conroy was less than 75% making FGs - he missed 9, 3 of which could have made the difference in those close losses.

    MSU defense on the field way too much - partly due, again, to inexperienced receivers who all too often stopped short of the 1st down marker, failed to get the extra 1-2 yards and forced punts as a result.

    Receivers who were not getting yards after catch, probably due to bad routes and the subsequent bad downfield blocking, which likely was due to bad route running in many cases.

    28 injuries in the season, all for at least 1 game, some season ending. Offensive line shuffled 6 times due to injuries.

    If one looks at the Wisconsin game in 2012, one could see what that offense could do when things were devoid of missteps.

    Add to your though provoking article that Cook, getting the glory for the TCU game, got a lucky break. On the last scoring drive, on 3rd and long, he threw an incompletion. TCU gave MSU a second chance with a Holding penalty and a first down and after a few more yards, when the drive stalled a second time, Conroy came through with a 46 yarder.

    The thing that is going on and will continue to go on is that the chUMps will point out all of the things they can that look like negatives and wave off anything that might be a positive.

    Unfortunately, so do the media.

  2. And speaking of QB transitions:

    In the past 40 seasons, 7 quarterbacks (Bryan Clark, Clark Brown, Dave Yarema, Bobby McAllister, Dan Enos, Todd Schultz, & Brian Hoyer) had first seasons that improved on the prior year's record. 13 quarterbacks had "step back" seasons.

    In the past 40 seasons, only 4 QBs ended with winning records in their first season. Maxwell finished 7-6-0 and that is tied for the 3rd best for a 1st year QB at MSU in the last 40 seasons. Bobby McAllister (1987, 9-2-1), Dan Enos (1989, 8-4-0), and Brian Hoyer (2007, 7-6-0) are the other 3 MSU QBs to have winning seasons their first year as a starter in the past 40 years.


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