East Lansing, Mich.– Whenever any program goes through change there will always be comparison between the new and the old. Unfortunately for junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and junior wide receiver Bennie Fowler they have the pressure of filling the huge roles of those before them.
Maxwell is looking to continue where Kirk Cousins, arguably the greatest quarterback in MSU history, left off, and Fowler is looking to not only try to imitate the career of the school’s all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, B.J. Cunningham, but add his name to the list of all-time great Spartan wide receivers.
While Maxwell and Fowler have not come close to having the same on the field accolades as Cousins and Cunningham, there are similarities that can give Michigan State fans hope that Maxwell and Fowler can have similar success.
The first thing that could equate to on the field success is the fact that Fowler and Maxwell have been playing pitch and catch since 2009. The wide receiver and quarterback tandem both came to Michigan State at the same time and have worked their way up the ranks together. While neither player has seen much time on the field it’s evident that these two will have some type of chemistry due to the fact that they have been around each other for a few years.
“This is now our fourth summer together,” Fowler said. “I know what he’s thinking, and he knows what I’m thinking, so we are ready to go.”
Cousins and Cunningham had a similar situation back in 2007 where they both came into Michigan State the same year and both received a redshirt during their freshman season. The rest is obviously history as the two became one of the most successful combinations in the history of Michigan State, and their chemistry they developed while playing on the second and third teams together played a huge role in their success once they became starters.
Maxwell understands the importance of all of those reps that they received when they weren’t back-ups, and believes it will be important to the chemistry development of this offense going forward.
“I think it started building a few years ago,” Maxwell said. “Bennie is my age, Tony (Lippett),and Keith (Mumphrey) are a year younger than me, so when I was a two they were a two, so we’ve been building that chemistry and connection for the past couple years.”
Secondly, the stature of Fowler and Maxwell closely resemble that of Cunningham and Cousins. Fowler is about 6-1, 218lbs, and Cunningham is 6-1, 211lbs. Maxwell clocks in at 6-3, 212lbs, and Cousins is about 6-3, 214lbs. Pound for pound and inch for inch Fowler and Maxwell are slightly bigger if not exactly the same size as Cousins and Cunningham. While size doesn’t really matter if you don’t use it correctly, Cunningham showed that he could do a lot with his frame, that seems a lot bigger than it actually is, and when given the opportunity, Fowler has shown that he can work magic as well.
While the two duos are comparative in size and have taken similar paths to get to where they are now, that does not mean Cousins and Cunningham’s play will be duplicated.
On the field experience goes along way, and that is something that this years offense lacks.
Fowler contains all the physical tools that Cunningham possesses, but we have not seen if he can harness those skills for a full season. The junior wide receiver needs to separate himself from the rest of the pack, and prove to his teammates and coaches that his time as a starter is overdue.
It’s clear that Maxwell is more mobile than Cousins, and many say he has a stronger arm, but it’s not clear yet whether or not Maxwell can match Cousins leadership and IQ of the game. Maxwell needs to lead this team and be a smart player before he even steps in Spartan Stadium on August 31st against Boise State, and if he does those things then there should be now reason why he can’t have the same success as Kirk Cousins.
Maxwell and Fowler have a chemistry that has yet been seen by the public eye. Nobody knows what they can do, and nobody expects them to do much. However, these two young men know what they are capable of, and just like when they came to East Lansing in 2007, they must prove themselves once more, but this time on a larger scale.