Dantonio keeps 'em guessing on Spartans' QBs
East Lansing – While Michigan State made a change at quarterback last weekend, any definitive plan heading into this week’s game at Maryland is uncertain.
Or, at least coach Mark Dantonio isn’t letting anyone know his plan, opting to take the same approach as he did last week by waiting until just before kickoff to announce redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke would start in place of fifth-year senior Tyler O’Connor.
The two were listed as co-starters on this week’s depth chart, one of a few changes following last week’s loss to Northwestern, the fourth straight for Michigan State (2-4, 0-3 Big Ten). Last week, Lewerke, O’Connor and junior Damion Terry were listed as co-starters.
Dantonio, however, insisted Terry is still a factor and was limited last week because of a minor injury.
“Damion is not out of the mix in terms of playing,” Dantonio said. “He had a little hand issue last week. We held him. We went with the other two. We’ll see how the practices work out this week. We’ll make some determinations as we go.”
In his first career start, Lewerke was 12-for-19 for 99 yards and a touchdown. But as the game progressed, he admitted things started to speed up and the offense stalled. By the middle of the third quarter, O’Connor came and sparked the offense, throwing for three touchdowns and 281 yards.
Before Dantonio makes any decisions, however, he’s being sure the confidence remains in his quarterbacks.
“I spoke to all of our quarterbacks,” Dantonio said, “make sure everybody was in good shape mentally.”
Quarterback wasn’t the change on the depth chart.
With David Beedle out, junior Dennis Finley moved into the No. 2 spot at left guard. Finley predominantly has played tackle and still is working back from a broken leg suffered last season. He is backing up redshirt freshman Tyler Higby, who started the last two games.
“Dennis, I think he’s ready to go,” Dantonio said. “He needs to get confident again in terms of being able to play at game time, at this level at game time. But he’s played before. He’s got the experience. We got to get him going.”
On defense, junior Malik McDowell is listed as a starter at end after moving over from tackle against Northwestern. He’ll continue to move around while former guard Brandon Clemons starts at nose tackle.
In the secondary, freshman Justin Layne is listed No. 1 at cornerback after his first career start last week while redshirt freshman Josh Butler had been elevated to a co-starter with sophomore Vayante Copeland at the other cornerback spot.
“We’re obviously going to have some depth chart moves as we go through this,” Dantonio said. “I don’t think there’s any question that happens. You got to continue to press on and there’s got to be focus. There also has to be pressure, not bad pressure. Pressure, not stress, but pressure on our players to perform, as well. I think that’s part of this, too.”
Dantonio confirmed Beedle suffered an apparent knee injury last week and will not play this week.
... Dantonio said there hasn’t been any discussion about possibly using this season as a medical redshirt for junior linebacker Jon Reschke, who hasn’t played since injuring his ankle against Wisconsin. Reschke missed the opener with a hand injury, and his only full game was against Notre Dame.
“I guess that’s something that we have to talk about when he comes back,” Dantonio said. “I’m not sure when he’ll be back. He’s not going to be back in the next couple weeks. That is probably the likelihood.”