When Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio announced earlier this week that last year’s starting quarterback had won the job again this season for the team’s first game, there were cheers and boos all around.
But for Maxwell’s backups, who spoke to the media on Thursday, there would be no public reaction; just more preparation in the hopes that they’d get a chance to earn their shot.
Andrew Maxwell will certainly be starting the game against Western Michigan tonight at Spartan Stadium, but there’s no guarantee that he’ll be the player under center once the game is over. In fact, Dantonio already announced that he was for sure going to play backup Connor Cook during the game, as well.
Cook, meanwhile, definitely understands his role – it’s is the same one that he had last year: Playing backup to Andrew Maxwell. But this season, Cook also aspires to amount to more.
“I’m just coming out and I’m giving everything I can in practice and in the games to win out, to be the guy,” Cook said. “Everybody comes here, you don’t really want to split time — you want to be the guy. And that’s the dream that I have.”
Maxwell, on the other hand, knows just how fine that line can be between keeping your head in the here and now, and making sure to not forget that there is always someone waiting to take your job.
“I think a quarterback needs to learn how to do two things — you need to learn how to play on a roll when things are going really well, and you need to learn to play though tough times and play through mistakes,” Maxwell said. “Something is going to go wrong. And that’s not just unique to us, that’s every single place that’s playing football. Something will go wrong at some point. The question is how do we respond, how do we react, and how do I as a quarterback play through that?
“We have a saying we use around here all the time — it’s ‘play for the next play.’ And it’s been said for years. Quarterbacks have to have short memories.”
Cook claims he wasn’t disappointed when the coaches told him that he wouldn’t be starting tonight against the Broncos, but rather, that he was excited for the opportunity to make an impact when he did come in to play, which coaches said would be in the first half.
“I wasn’t disappointed, I kind of expected it,” Cook said of Danotnio’s decision. “I expected to come in and actually see game time, and that’s what Coach D promised me — that I’m going to come in and I’m gonna play. If that’s all I have, that I can come in and if I’m given the opportunity, I know that I’m gonna succeed and I’m gonna make the most out of it.”
Kickoff is tonight at 8:00pm in East Lansing, Michigan. TV coverage will be on Big Ten Network.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.