EAST LANSING — “We want Terry!”
Those words shortly echoed throughout Spartan Stadium in Michigan State’s 26-13 season opening victory over Western Michigan Friday night. After the offense put together multiple possessions of minimal productivity and yawn-worthy drives, the Michigan State football fans began cheering for a new name. A name they had never even seen play in a MSU uniform.
Since making noise in the Spartans second closed-scrimmage this summer, and officially putting his name in the starting quarterback race, true freshman quarterback Damion Terry is a guy that Michigan State football fans are excited to see. And with senior Andrew Maxwell and redshirt sophomore Connor Cook combining for a 46 percent completion percentage (17 of 37), 116 yards and no touchdowns in the victory over Western, you can understand why the fans want to see something new, something fresh.
“It’s understandable, as an offense, when you seem to be stalling out and you get the ball in good field position and you can’t seem to capitalize, I can understand how there’s a little unrest, how there’s a little bit of anxiousness by the crowd to want to see the offense move,” Maxwell said in regards to the Terry chants and boo’s from the fans. “That’s going to be normal anytime time an offense is struggling.
“Can’t let that affect us, can’t let that affect me personally. We just need to improve, move the ball and score more points.”
Despite Maxwell leading the Spartans only scoring drive — which finished with a Jeremy Langford 2-yard run, and was helped with over 25 yards of penalties from the Broncos defense — the offense as whole was unproductive. However, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio didn’t feel that the quarterback play was the issue in the victory. It was the offense as a whole.
Dantonio and staff swapped Maxwell and Cook throughout the game depending on who had the hotter hand, however, regardless of the quarterback, the receivers struggled to catch the ball, something that has been an issue for the past year.
“You’re always going to worry when you don’t see things come to fruition, but it would be no different to me as if we hadn’t seen it last year and we’re seeing it this year,” Dantonio said about the struggles from his offense that mimicked their struggles from a year ago. “We have to deal with the current situation, and we have to deal with the present. And what I’ve seen in the present is that we’ve caught the ball all summer long very, very well, and for whatever reason we didn’t catch the ball as clean. We had too many drops.
“I didn’t think our quarterback play was bad. There’s going to be plays you want as back as a quarterback, but I thought the ball was on the money numerous times and you’ve got to make the catch. Pretty simple.”
Apparently, according to Dantonio, Maxwell and Cook did enough for them to continue to get looks as the starting quarterback, and offensive coordinator Dave Warner said that using three quarterbacks never came up on Friday night. The seven drops from the receivers/tight ends seemed to be more of an issue than the quarterback’s inability to remain consistent, which makes sense, but they’ve tried several different options at receiver, not at quarterback.
Dating back to last season, only two quarterbacks have been under center for the Spartans: Maxwell and Cook. And since that time the passing attack from the Spartans has looked sluggish and dull. Terry, while it remains to be seen if he can be the answer for the Spartans constant offensive problems, his ability to run and throw mixed with the mystique of playing a freshman would definitely spice up the MSU offense.
The Spartans were leading the Broncos 19-7 going into the fourth quarter, the offense was still dry, and Western Michigan wasn’t threatening to make a serious run. It would have been the perfect time to let the kid play and show what he can do in a game setting.
The fans lost their two most entertaining players on offense from a year ago in running back Le’Veon Bell and tight end Dion Sims to the NFL, and even with them on the team the Spartan faithful have watched an average to below average offensive unit for the past year.
Quarterback is the most polarizing position in the sport, and when you’re QB’s have failed to meet standards or bring excitement then there should be a cause for concern.
Those in Spartan Stadium had every right in the world to want something different, something exciting. And if the offense continues to struggle through halftime of next week’s matchup against South Florida don’t be surprised not only if those Terry chants get louder, but if Dantonio finally unleashes his freshman talent.