The next installment of the 2012 Assume the Position series. So far we’ve done our visit with the Special Teams.
First, a limerick!
There once was a Captain named Kirk.
He made our rivals go berzerk.
He said with a grin
As he beat them again
”All the trophies are just a nice perk”.
So if you think the tenor of this preview is going to at least rely heavily on how much we’ll miss Kirk Cousins, you’re partially right.* Cousins threw last year for an astonishing 419 pass attempts and managed to have only six regular season interceptions. I bring these stats up because it’s difficult to impress how good Kirk Cousins was last year when he needed to be.
* Note: Even smart passes for 2 yards on 3rd and 6 will occasionally be missed. VERY OCCASIONALLY.
Every single preview regarding the MSU Quarterback position is going to focus on and try to predict whether Maxwell can fill Kirk Cousins shoes. In response, a numbered list.(It’s been a few months, I’m rusty at blogging.) 1.) The average pro-style starter in the Big Ten going back five years will throw down for 58.8 percent completion, 16 TDs and 8 picks.2.) It’s fair to have higher expectations of that from Maxwell, some of the data points in point number 1 included freshmen and Rick-Six Stanzi. Maxwell is a fourth year player beginning his Redshirt Junior year and has looked plenty competent in relief so far. 3.) Maxwell has yet to take a meaningful snap in a meaningful piece of a game and after missing the Spring game he missed a lot of important reps with his young supporting cast.
Must love this story from the Free Press:
Maxwell's team was running an inbounds play. "We set the picks, whatever," he said. "I catch the ball at the free-throw line."
He did a drop step. Turned. And raced the other way. He was wide-open. We are talking, ridiculously open. "This is it," he thought. "I'm going to get my dunk, get my dunk."
Maxwell passed half-court and couldn't hear anything, and he dunked the ball with one hand, turned, and everybody was laughing.
"I looked at the ref, and I was like, 'Yeah, that was the wrong hoop, wasn't it?' "
"And he was like, 'Yeah.' "
As much as this is a story about Andrew Maxwell, it’s equally a story of his supporting cast. MSU loses their top three wide receivers, top two Tight Ends and one Edwin Baker.They are replaced by a bounty of talented but unproven underclassmen. Further hampering that chemistry was the loss of Andrew Maxwell in Spring Ball which robbed him of even more of those needed reps. Every rep in fall camp counts.
2011 Game Log
Everything looks excellent! Pay no attention to those Garbage Time Stats against Indiana! Seriously, don’t pay attention to any of that really, I just thought it was good quick reference. There’s nothing here to suggest Maxwell might struggle this year, unfortunately, there’s not a lot to refute it either. That’s all I have to say about that.
If it seems like I’m bearish on Maxwell, it’s more like there’s just nothing to point to other than a good anecdote about high school basketball and some noticeable improvement from 2010 to 2011 on the field in garbage time. There’s also a lot of missed reps from the Spring and an entirely new surrounding cast at the skill positions with the exception of Bell and Caper. As much as I’m looking forward to Boise State, opening with a tomato can would do MSU well in this situation.
Battle tested. Warrior of the Spring. All-Time Quarterback.All of these things describe Connor Cook’s warrior-i-ness. He went 20 of 45 in the Spring Game for a touchdown. Handed the ball off to Sparty successfully. Check.
The likelihood of Cook seeing non-injury time this year are low. Cook played well enough in the Spring Game, but, Maxwell has three years in the system and knows that offense inside and out now. In the extremely unlikely event of a position battle Dantonio is not quick to make changes(Baker/Bell –2011), (Cousins/Nichol –2009) so let’s all agree there’s no chance of that happening plskthx.
Not battle tested. True freshman. If he is seeing meaningful time in any meaningful game, something has gone very, very wrong. There’s an excellent chance that Maxwell got into a fistfight with Cook so powerful they ruptured a hole in space and time and will fight for all of eternity. Alternative! It’s the Rose Bowl and we’re up 100-3 on USC and Dantonio burns O’Connor’s redshirt so he can give Lane Kiffin the finger in the middle of the second quarter. Another Alternative! One time in NCAA 04 I recruited a two-star athlete who was a 97 Defensive End, but was easy to get because the game was broken, maybe in NCAA 12 O’Connor turns out to be a 97 much to the surprise and delight of Spartans everywhere.
Best Case Scenario: Maxwell’s chemistry with his receivers is immediate and they grasp the offense without issue. Maxwell comes in and shows himself a competent game manager and shows himself capable of winning a game with his arm early in the season. Stays healthy the whole season, (I have tiny little voices in my head saying I shouldn’t be worried about this, and tiny ones saying I should.) He’s able to match Kirk Cousins production his first year as the QB.
Worst Case Scenario: Maxwell’s lack of experience shows itself in an ugly way. He gets down early against Boise State and struggles to get his confidence in time for ND where MSU loses another squeaker. Then the QB controversy begins.
Overall Assessment: Well, how do you feel about uncertainty? An opportunity for learning? A chance to grow out of your comfort zone? Horde canned food and gold coins for trading after the power goes out? However you feel about massive uncertainty scale your reaction to your love of MSU football and plan accordingly. Maxwell is walking into as friendly a Quarterback situation as they come and won’t be rushed to perform at a high-level immediately via QB competition. However, his competition will be stiff opening against number 8 Boise State on August 31st. So far any evidence for or against his immediate impact is inconclusive. Bet on Maxwell being perfectly capable to play adequately or even goodly-ish this year but that he'll need a year to get out of the shadow of Kirk Cousins.