It’s not unusual for all eyes to be on the quarterback, but for Michigan State fans, a focus on Andrew Maxwell is necessary.
It’s safe to say this weekend is big for Maxwell. After an up-and-down debut last Friday at Spartan Stadium, the new Michigan State quarterback has plenty left to prove as the Spartans head into Mount Pleasant on Saturday to play Central Michigan.
There is no time like the present for the junior.
The Boise State test is out of the way and a victory in hand — Maxwell’s record at 1-0 as a starter. Now, sandwiching the Notre Dame game in East Lansing on Sept. 15 are two MAC opponents. First up is CMU on the road, then Eastern Michigan at Spartan Stadium. Looming beyond the Eagles is the first Big Ten game against Ohio State.
This game against the Chippewas is the perfect time for Maxwell to make a statement, and he needs to take advantage of it.
Maxwell is facing a defense that allowed more than 240 passing yards per game last season — and only had 13 sacks and eight interceptions in 2011. Maxwell threw for 248 yards against Boise State.
Fortunately, Maxwell brings some momentum with him into Mount Pleasant. Despite the three interceptions and, at times, shaky performance against Boise State, he was rolling in the second half to the tune of 11-of-16 passing for 152 yards. In the fourth quarter he was 5 for 7 and led the Spartans downfield on the drive that put the Spartans ahead and the final drive which sealed the game.
He also has seen the Chippewas’ defense in action — getting playing time in last year’s 45-7 rout. Maxwell went 7 of 8 for 71 yards and a touchdown in that game.
Combine the momentum and, for the first time, seeing a team twice and it is a formula for Maxwell to find success in his second test as a starter.
Better yet, the game is on the road, albeit not in what one would classify as a “hostile” environment. As Mark Dantonio said, “If we’re going to play an away game, I’d rather play 60 miles up the road in state and make that our first away game of the season with the new quarterback.”
The away games on the schedule build toward the biggest game of the season — at Michigan on Oct. 20. The Spartans also go on the road on Oct. 6 to Indiana — another environment that isn’t quite threatening and against another team Maxwell has played against.
Bear in mind, Kirk Cousins’ first road start was at Notre Dame.
Maxwell has as easier road working in his favor, and come Saturday, the opportunity to put any fears MSU fans have to rest is there.
Watch for Maxwell to do just that.