Thursday, July 26, 2018

Lewerke looks to lead the Spartans back to the top of the Big Ten

Photo Credit: Orlando Ramirez- USA Today Sports

CHICAGO- A year ago, Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke outlasted Damion Terry and Messiah deWeaver for the starting job and would set the course for an unexpected ride.

A ride which proved to be a success as he played a vital part in turning the Spartans from a 3-9 campaign in 2016 to a 10-3 mark, capped off by a win in the Holiday Bowl over Washington State.

Despite bringing Michigan State back to the topic of conversation of being a contender in the Big Ten East and even the College Football Playoff this season, Lewerke knows work must be done to improve his offensive efficiency. As a sophomore, Lewerke completed 59 percent of his passes, to go along with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

“I have been focusing on my accuracy which was one of my downsides last year by completing 59 percent of my passes,” Lewerke said. “I am trying to get to around the mid-60’s range, which will make us an even more efficient offense.”

Improvements with arm and foot techniques are also targets for the junior.

“I have been working on making sure I bring my back foot through and grounded when I throw,” Lewerke said. “Making my arm angles right when throwing and being comfortable in the pocket, so that the when comes, I will be ready.”

Unlike quarterbacks in the past decade at MSU such as, Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook, Lewerke possesses the ability to scramble if pressure comes in the pocket. The then-sophomore finished second on the team in 2017 with 559 rushing yards.

Spartans coach Mark Danotnio believes Lewerke has the potential to be among the greats at MSU, but has some work to do to get there.

“He's got some work to do before he gets to the NFL like those other guys,” Dantonio said. “Those other guys are proven commodities. But I think that he's a rising star.”

With a year of experience under center and the only returner for MSU with any snaps from last season, Lewerke wants to do the best job possible to bring a Big Ten title to East Lansing for the third time in the last six seasons.

“[Expectations] are high for myself because I want to perform to the best of my ability for my team,” Lewerke said. “I move this team in the right direction, whether it would be a conversation with some of the quarterbacks that been here, so be it. I am trying to do the best that I can to win as many games.”

MSU stands to be in a good spot for similar, if not more success this season as it hosts two of its biggest rivals— Michigan and Ohio State at Spartan Stadium and Lewerke could take that next step into the stratosphere of great quarterbacks produced.

Only time will tell.

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