Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke talks about MSU's win over CMU on Saturday. The Detroit News
East Lansing — Brian Lewerke thought Central Michigan was doing a lot of grabbing on Saturday afternoon.
In fact, when Lewerke’s first-quarter pass to Felton Davis was intercepted by Central Michigan’s Sean Bunting in the first quarter of No. 21 Michigan State’s 31-20 victory, the MSU quarterback put the blame squarely on the lack of a flag, something that was an issue all day, he said.
“Their DBs were holding a lot. They should have called more pass interference penalties, even more than they did,” Lewerke said. “I think the interception was 100-percent pass interference. The guy grabbed Felton, Felton had him beat by a yard, the guy grabbed him and pulled himself through to pick the ball off. I think the ball was in a decent spot, maybe I could have been a little further in front I guess but it's a missed call maybe.
“But just obviously got to eliminate those no matter what happens.”
Whether or not it was what was being called and what was not being called, the results are the same — Lewerke has thrown five interceptions through four games. That comes after he threw just seven interceptions all of last season. Add in a couple of lost fumbles and that’s seven turnovers in the same span.
Coach Mark Dantonio insists he’s not concerned about the play of the junior signal-caller, who finished 16-for-25 for 185 yards while running for a pair of touchdowns.
“I think a couple of those interceptions have been very good plays by the defender on deep balls,” Dantonio said. “You have to credit them on that. You're always going to want to have a couple back. We play these games one game at a time, and this was in the win column. I thought he did some things really well out there, had a couple touchdown runs, he moved in the pocket, and had some big plays from out of the pocket. He made some good decisions on blitzes to get the ball out hot. He had some RPOs that were very well-executed. There were a lot of good things he did, but you have to watch the film and listen to the quarterback coach to make sure everything is going accordingly.
“I don't worry about the interceptions as much as how we play every single game. You'd like to have the one back, but he may have been getting held on that play.”
There’s been plenty of pressure on the passing game to produce so far this season, primarily because the rushing attack hasn’t been consistently effective.
The Spartans were without receivers Darrell Stewart Jr. and Jalen Nailor on Saturday and lost Cody White to a broken hand late in the first half. Co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner believes that has led to Lewerke pressing a bit.
“I think that probably with the struggles we have had in the run game I think Brian was probably putting a little extra pressure on himself,” Warner said. “To be quite honest with you our pass game has needed to carry us for the most part and he was probably trying to do a little too much, and force things a little too much. I think those are the results.
“It is something that we are very well aware of and need to correct because we can't go through the Big Ten season turning the ball over.”