When Michigan State took the field against TCU on Saturday night everyone was prepared for a low scoring affair dominated by two of the nation’s best defenses.  Michigan State’s defense can be credited with making TCU one-dimensional and the same can be said about TCU’s defensive effort.


MSU found success with its star tailback Le’Veon Bell (145 yards rushing) late in the game while TCU was hard pressed to gain anything on the ground against MSU’s front seven.  MSU’s game plan was simple, run the football on offense and stop the run on defense.


TCU’s redshirt freshman QB Trevone Boykin had shown himself to be mistake prone and MSU’s passing attack with first year starter Andrew Maxwell proved to be less than adequate throughout the 2012 season.  The winning team was destined to be the team that made the fewest mistakes.  MSU was the improbable winner down 13-0 at halftime only to emerge the winner 17-16.


On the third series of the first half, MSU brought in its own redshirt freshman QB and the “controversy” ensued thereafter.  Connor Cook, who had no more than a handful of snaps throughout the season, got his opportunity and found a way to lead MSU down the field on two key scoring drives that put the Spartan Nation on notice.  The first drive was a 90 yarder (longest of the season) and the second was responsible for Conroy’s game winning field goal.  The message delivered on Saturday night was simple; MSU’s starting QB position is wide open heading into spring football.


Cook’s stats won’t blow anyone away.  Doning Peyton Manning’s #18, Cook looked the part in the huddle, but statistically he was less than “Peyton-like” finishing 4 of 11 for 47 yards with a crucial TD pass to fellow freshman Aaron Burbridge.  When the game was on the line in quarter #4, Dantonio gave Connor Cook the nod to win it or lose it.  The message was sent and received with a resounding applause around the Spartan Nation and what do ya know, Cook delivered.


The coaches did everything in their power after the game to make it sound as though there is no QB controversy brewing, but anyone with any knowledge of the game could see that Cook is talented and will have to get serious look this spring.  This is the product of building a program.  This is the product of strong recruiting and the need for competition at every position on the field including the most critical.


I am not going to go out and automatically anoint Connor Cook MSU’s starting QB at this point.  However, the coaching staff knows that 2013 is a table set for success with a talented junior class ready to be seniors, an offensive line group with of ton of reps, a defense that largely returns intact and a schedule that is the most favorable schedule they’ve had since they arrived. 


Anything short of an appearance in the B1G Championship game next fall would be considered a disappointment.  The Spartan fan base is restless after a disappointing 2012 campaign that finished with a victory in a bowl game that largely couldn’t give tickets away to anyone wearing green attire.


Looking at the quarterback situation logically here are my takeaways.


  • Andrew Maxwell had more than his opportunity to take command of the MSU team.  He is a 6-6 QB with limited athletic ability and really only has one game that he was responsible for winning.  That game was Wisconsin.  In fairness to Maxwell he showed athletic ability in high school.  We know that he has the talent to do that.  It is the opinion of Spartan Nation that poor coaching hurt him and Hondo will address that in great detail later this off season. We also strongly believe competition, something he didn’t face, will help him in 2013.  He has had four years in the MSU system to perfect his craft.



  • Connor Cook is a good athlete.  He has a quick release.  He is decisive with the ball.  He displays good footwork and has the ability to scramble turning a bad play into positive yardage.  When the game was on the line Connor stepped in and found a way to get it done.  He showed some moxie and swagger on the field.  Cook has all the tools to be a three-year Big Ten starter, IF he can win the job.


  • Don’t sleep on the ‘other’ Connor… O’Connor that is.  Tyler O’Connor will be a redshirt freshman heading into spring ball.  He has all the God given ability needed to step in and start for four years at MSU.  Reputable college coaches called O’Connor one of the best high school quarterbacks they’d ever seen.  Like Cook, O’Connor has a big body, quick feet and apparently throws the long ball with extraordinary accuracy.  Early Sunday morning one member of the MSU football staff when discussing 2013 with Hondo and the coming QB battle.  He said of O’Connor, “And he’s the best of the bunch.”


  • Damion Terry could become a factor in the QB race if he enrolls early.  Most everyone expects Terry to redshirt upon arriving in East Lansing, but Terry’s knack for winning will get him a look.  Terry lead his Erie Cathedral Prep team to a PA state championship.  His mobility is a huge asset bringing Bobby McAllister athleticism and escapeablity to the position and he is a gifted passer as well.


If all things are equal this spring, I believe that Michigan State will have another QB under center next fall when the season kicks off.  Hondo disagrees.  He believe that the job is Maxwell’s unless someone beats him out.


I am in no way saying that Maxwell can’t and won’t get it done.  However, the competition is steep at the QB position.  This staff has three Spartan QB’s playing in the NFL right now and they are in on a number of high profile QB’s in the next two recruiting classes. 


MSU will put another QB in the League, I don’t think the next one destined for the NFL draft is Andrew Maxwell. If given a fair shake, one of the three guys stacked behind him should come out this spring and win the job.  Mark it down, this will be the most important off season in the Mark Dantonio era.

About Mike the Governor Henne

View all posts by Mike the Governor Henne
Mike THE GOVERNOR Henne is a senior writer for Spartan Nation across all of the platforms. You can read and see him on a regular basis. He is incredibly connected to the MSU community and is well respected in the State of Michigan agricultural community. He resides in the Washington D.C. region.

10 Responses to “Michigan State Spartan 2013 QB Controversy Begins NOW!” Subscribe

  1. Brian December 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

    Maxwell was given more than ample opportunity, and could not and did not deliver. I am willing to bet he had little if any ability to truly lead the team as an inspirational player, a la Cousins.

    Did anyone see the way the players responded to Cook? Pure excitement. They want him. They no longer have any faith in Maxwell’s deer in the headlights approach.

    Dantonio should have pulled his most favored son earlier in the season. I don’t buy the bad QB coaching like Hondo. I blame the entire staff for overselling Maxwell however, and so do most fans.

    This is all a nice little sideshow in comparison to the root cause off MSU’s offensive misery: Dan Roushar…..until Dantonio wakes up and blows his good friend out the door, the O will likely struggle regardless of QB.

  2. michael December 31, 2012 at 3:47 pm #

    Wondered where you have been Gov.?

  3. Pjacob December 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm #

    I completely agree. Maxwell may be the best option but let him win the job.

  4. Pete December 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm #

    Quarterback controversies happen when coaches want to distract fans from the real problems and are willing to throw players under the bus. It wasn’t Maxwell who called 2 yard pass plays on 3rd and 12. It wasn’t Maxwell who completely failed to get into a hurry-up offense with 4 minutes to go in the first half. All year long fans have been saying that, with the kind of Oline play MSU gets from their fat and slow linemen, a quarterback who can run will keep linebackers and safeties home and compensate to some degree and all year long the coaches have been saying that nothing was wrong with their offensive approach because it worked with Cousins. Now, after the BW3 bowl, they finally see the light. Duh!! It took an extraordinarily poor effort on TCU’s part to blow this game and if MD thinks the “big win” somehow confirms his and Roushar’s choices, he’s dreaming. Don’t even think about a B1G championship next year unless someone stirs up the good old boy network around MD. That’s where the real problems are.

  5. Dorado January 1, 2013 at 4:18 am #

    I would say that Maxwell won the Indiana game as well

  6. joe January 1, 2013 at 11:13 am #

    I have been a fan since I attended the ND MSU 10 –10 tie game. Have followed the spartans and I am a huge fan. I attended the bowl game against TCU and almost left in after the first half. In my humble opinion Maxwell is not a big ten caliber quarterback. He may be a nice guy, look good in practice, and say the right things but in the game he was awful. Everyone in the spartan section could not believe that Maxwell kept returning to the game in place of Cook. What is so disturbing to me is that there is even a discussion about a quarterback controversy. If the coaches cant see the leadership, talent and will to win of Cook, not just in the bowl game but all season long.. Then we are truely in trouble.

  7. Clubmeridian January 2, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    I totally agree with these comments above, “Maxwell was given more than ample opportunity, and could not and did not deliver” by Brian, ” In my humble opinion Maxwell is not a big ten caliber quarterback.” by Joe.
    If Maxwell becomes starting QB in 2013, there will be no hope for Rose Bowl.
    We should’ve given a chance a lot earlier to Connor this season.

  8. st8grad January 2, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    After watching Cook in the BWW Bowl, I am now on board with the idea that Maxwell either doesn’t have what it takes or just can’t get it done for whatever reason. I put a lot of stock in the injuries to the o-line, the recievers inability to get open downfield, and this being his first season starting. Even with that, I still couldn’t understand their inability to move the ball. It’s tough to see all the particulars on TV…the ND game I saw in person, but I watched all the other aspects of our game break down, including the defense, and on our second offensive drive I said, “This team has some major issues. We are in big trouble.” The Ohio State game he played very well.

    Even though Cook’s stats weren’t anything to write home about, there was a difference with him in the game that was apparent immediately. More poise, efficiency, and command. All this from a kid that barely took a snap all season…and in a bowl game with the game on the line? Think how much they have to contract the play calls for a redshirt freshman and he STILL led them on a 90 yard drive. The only QB besides Maxwell who I have ever seen so ineffective was Damon Dowdell. Dowdell would have a lot of useless completions though.

    This isn’t the play calling of Roushar. This failure is Maxwell, some of it the line, some the recievers, a lot of the coaches, and a lot of it on Coach D. His stubborn philosophy sucks. Saban called it in 2010. Brian Kelly called it in 2012. I’ve been screaming it since they ran Javon Ringer into brick walls over and over again in 2007.

    Did you notice the play calling in 2010? Couldn’t move the ball to save our lives until Treadwell took command for the Wisconsin game. Suddenly, the offense was a work of art! Aggressive, kept the D off balance, mixed it up, etc. Coach D returns, run-run-run, punt.

    Saban used to be the same way. He changed his philosophy and has been excellent ever since.

    Hope in 2013.

    • Pete January 3, 2013 at 1:38 am #

      So just who is going to select the right quarterback? Is it Dantonio who insisted Maxwell was the starter from the moment Cousins left? Is it Roushar who hemmed and hawed about whether the problem was his play calling or the quarterback or the wide receivers or the line. In fact, does Roushar ever say anything that is definitive and useful? Is it Staton who kept saying how good Maxwell was to reporters (who actually believed him) but, privately, well, who knows? Come on. If Roushar is, at best, a mediocre coach, just who is going to select the right guy to lead the offense and just what kind of offense is the right guy going to work with? Sorry, Charlie. All the roads of responsibility lead to the coaches, not the quarterbacks. If we don’t go out and get a good OC, teams like Notre Dame, UofM, Wiscy, and OSU will thrash us soundly no matter how good the defense is. You have to score points to win big games and we can’t.

  9. Clubmeridian January 3, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

    Not to repeat same mistake in 2013, we should not use Maxwell as a starting QB again. I hope coaching staff will make a right decision.