Russo or Thorne to start at QB for Michigan State? Mel Tucker won't say publicly

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

East Lansing —  Michigan State’s quarterbacks know who will be starting on Friday night at Northwestern, but coach Mel Tucker still isn’t revealing who will be under center when the season begins against the defending Big Ten West champions.

Graduate transfer Anthony Russo and third-year sophomore Payton Thorne have been locked in a tight battle since spring, and throughout the process, Tucker has given no hints as to who might be ahead.

Mel Tucker

He took the same approach at the start of his press conference on Tuesday, saying, “We still have a few more days to prepare. … we’re still in discussion.”

Later, when the second-year coach was pressed on whether Russo and Thorne have been told, Tucker relented a bit.

“They may know,” Tucker said. “I mean, I’m not gonna lie to you. That’s something I won’t do.”

Russo has the decided edge in experience, starting 26 games at Temple while completing 536 of 899 passes for 6,292 yard and 44 touchdowns. However, he also threw 32 interceptions and often was second in reps throughout open portions of preseason camp.

Thorne is lacking in playing time, but he stood out late last season, including throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns in his only career start at Penn State.

When asked how he broke the news to both players, Tucker responded, “I really don't want to get into that. The guys competed.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau