Le’Veon Bell carried the ball 44 times for 210 yards and two touchdowns while also making 6 catches for 55 yards in Michigan State’s 17-13 victory over Boise State Friday night. Is he going to carry the load all year?
No. The offense is just beginning to gel together. Mistakes were expected to come from junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell and his inexperienced receiving corps. They weren’t going to come out and pick apart a defense. Give them time. Relax.
Kirk Cousins made a lot of miscues his sophomore season, and look how he ended up. B.J. Cunningham struggled early on, and so did Keshawn Martin.
There is no reason to worry about Maxwell and the receivers right now. Maxwell completed 22 of 38 passes for 248 yards in his FIRST GAME AS A STARTER. He threw three interceptions, the first going off sophomore Tony Lippett’s hands, the second off senior Larry Caper’s hands, and the last one was thrown two feet behind junior Bennie Fowler. If Maxwell throws that ball two feet to the right, Fowler gets in the end zone and all of sudden Maxwell is Michigan State’s greatest quarterback ever.
He will be fine. And so will his receivers.
It was expected for junior tight end Dion Sims to have a performance like he did, catching the ball seven times for 65 yards. He was supposed to. He has experience.
“I just take it upon myself to try to be a leader,” Sims said.
The rest of the receivers showed glimpses of what they could do. Fowler, who had a productive redshirt freshman season in 2010 but was held back in 2011 due to injuries, had two catches for 36 yards.
“I thought overall we sustained good drives, we just didn’t finish well enough,” Fowler said.
With time and experience, those long drives will turn into points.
Lippett had 3 catches for 62 yards, but had some difficulties as well. His drop led to Maxwell’s first interception and a Boise State field goal. He also fumbled the ball after a 35-yard catch. And he got dropped for a 10-yard loss during a double reverse. Clean up the turnovers and he will be fine.
Sophomore Keith Mumphery showed some hands as well, catching 2 balls for 17 yards.
I said over a month ago that Maxwell and his receivers would struggle early on. They’re going to make mistakes in these first few games. Bell, Sims, and the defense should be able to carry this team through the non-conference schedule. However, once Big Ten play rolls around, Maxwell and his receivers must perform, especially since they kick off the conference schedule against Ohio State.
Still, the offense was just inches away from breaking the game open on several drives. They just didn’t capitalize.
“We could have ran away with the ball game early on,” Caper said. “Those things (drops and turnovers) will definitely diminish as the season goes on.”
Starting free safety Jairus Jones has seen this offense perform well.
“We go against them everyday, we know they can make those plays,” Jones said. “I have seen him (Maxwell) kill, I have seen him not throw any picks in a scrimmage against OUR defense.”
The Spartan offense gained 461 total yards. If you take away the turnovers, which you can’t, the Spartans put up 30 or more points. Senior kicker Dan Conroy missed a 43-yard field goal also. They will be fine.
Oh yeah, and their defense is pretty good too.