Michigan State quarterbacks plan on running more

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing — One of the big reasons Michigan State was able to pull off the upset at Ohio State last season was because of the play of quarterbacks Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry.

Specifically, it was the fact both were a threat to run — each picking up 25 yards on eight carries in the 17-14 victory for the Spartans. Now, with O’Connor set to take the reins of the offense as a fifth-year senior, it appears using a running quarterback will be more of an emphasis for the Michigan State offense than it was with Connor Cook.

O’Connor appeared on SiriusXM’s Camp Tour on College Sports Nation and said the Spartans have been working more quarterback runs since the end of last season.

“There’s a good chance that’s happening,” O’Connor said. “We’ve done a lot of it this offseason.”

That doesn’t mean the entire offensive philosophy is changing for the Spartans. With a stable of quality running backs, the pro-style offense isn’t going away, it’s just being tweaked to fit the personnel.

“We say ‘pound Green pound’ here at Michigan State,” O’Connor said. “The quarterback run you can use with more guys in the box and misdirection and things like that will improve. I’m embracing the fact we can do more quarterback runs and if it helps the offense, I’m all for it.”

There seems little doubt at this point O’Connor will be the starting quarterback all season, especially considering coach Mark Dantonio said O’Connor is the definitive starter for week one against Furman. But figuring out the rest of the quarterbacks is still up in the air.

Terry has the experience, but that doesn’t guarantee anything as three quarterbacks could see action in the first few games.

“We’ll probably redshirt Messiah deWeaver,” Dantonio said, “but Brian Lewerke is a guy that has made some move and I think could see playing time early in the season. We want to see where he’s at in game situations and that builds growth.

“It will be interesting to watch as we get in the early part of the season and see who’s carrying this football team. Right now, Tyler is the guy.”

Hatchet man

Fifth-year senior safety Demetrious Cox was interviewed by show hosts Chris Childers and Jim Miller, a former Michigan State quarterback, and they pointed out the necklace Cox was wearing. It was created with mementos from three victories over Michigan, mementos that were inspired from the Paul Bunyan Trophy the winner of the rivalry keeps.

“My necklace has got three axes,” Cox explained. “A lot of people know we get an ax every time we beat the other guys down the road. So I got 2013, MSU-UM, 29-6; 2014, MSU 35, UM 11. And then, obviously, 2015, 27-23. We all get an ax so I thought it was a cool idea to get a chain and put them on.”

Transfer talk

Offensive lineman George Brown Jr. is transferring from LSU, his father told The (Baton Rouge) Advocate on Monday, and Michigan State is on the list of schools he’s considering along with Miami, Penn State and UCLA. His father said he would decide on a school this week.

Brown, a 6-foot-7, 290-pound native of Cincinnati, redshirted in 2015 and was the No. 16 offensive tackle prospect in the nation. His father told The Advocate his last practice with LSU was on Saturday.