When following up a quarterback who has made a mark for any team in college football, the results may not be great immediately, if ever. This is what is facing Michigan State Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell as he enters his senior season at the university and second season as starting quarterback.
Maxwell replaced Kirk Cousins, someone who made quite the mark as quarterback for the Spartans, and thus made the shoes Maxwell had to fill very big. Maxwell’s first season as the Spartans’ quarterback was a mixed bag.
Statistically speaking, Maxwell turned in a poor year in comparison to what Cousins brought to the table. Maxwell threw only 13 touchdowns while also throwing nine interceptions during the 2012 season. He also failed to have a single 300-yard passing game all of last season, though he did come close on several occasions.
While Maxwell did have a few moments of last-minute brilliance in games, it was his poor showings in important games that spoke loudest about his overall performance last season.
Against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio St. Buckeyes, Iowa Hawkeyes, Michigan Wolverines and Nebraska Cornhuskers, Maxwell struggled with his completion percentage, even completing as few as nine passes in one game. Maxwell also had a very hard time finding the end-zone through the air for the Spartans, throwing a combined three touchdowns and two interceptions in those five games. Fittingly, the Spartans went 0-5 in those games.
The biggest hurdle for Maxwell entering the 2013 season will be the loss of running back Le’Veon Bell. A quarterback can’t do everything even when he’s expected to, and in those situations, it’s always good to have a good backfield or group of receivers. In Maxwell’s case, he had a great college running back in Bell.
Bell was so vital to the Spartans’ offense that he was the Spartans’ offense for a great portion of the season. Part of this was a combination of Maxwell’s inexperience in the starting QB role and Bell’s immediate production; Bell started the 2012 season with a 200+ yard rushing performance and several more would follow. Now that rushing support is now pretty much gone.
The worst indication that Maxwell didn’t make the transition to being a starting quarterback in college football well was getting pulled from the Spartans’ bowl game early. In the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl against the TCU Horned Frogs, Maxwell was replaced by freshman quarterback Connor Cook after going 6/15 for only 28 yards passing. Truly not the end that any quarterback in their first season as a starter wants. However, something like that can be a character-building event that leads to something far more positive. Whether or not that happens starts with Maxwell.
It’s do-or-die time for this Spartans quarterback. Maxwell has to make something happen quickly this season, or face the consequences. And with Cook possibly looming in the shadows, those consequences could be a spot on the bench for Maxwell and the Spartans officially making Cook their new quarterback project.