When quarterback Andrew Maxwell lines up against TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, he’ll see something different as the Horned Frogs will line up in a 4-2-5 defensive scheme.
How does Michigan State quarterbacks coach Dave Warner see this different wrinkle?
“They have a little bit different of a look,” said Warner. “But at the same time, they’re very talented. They have some pass rush guys that can really put some pressure on you. The back end of the secondary I think is excellent – as good as we’ve faced all year. It’s very difficult to simulate in practice. Our scout team has done a great job of getting us prepared. We have to be ready to go. We got some good work in against that defense in practice; now it’s a matter of going out and executing.”
One concern in getting off to a fast start offensively comes from the time off the Spartans have seen since beating Minnesota. Does Warner feel the time off will hurt the Spartans passing attack?
“I don’t think you lose it, but you need to polish it up a little bit,” said Warner. “You look at our season, obviously it took a while to get a comfort level with our pass game, but I think we got there to a certain degree. We still have a long way to go. We polished up a little bit in December, and this last week for sure, we’ve gotten our timing back down. We’re trying to move it forward.”
One thing Warner knows going in is Maxwell looks to be totally healthy.
“Hat’s off to Andrew,” said Warner. “If people would have seen what his elbow had looked like the last week (of the regular season), it wasn’t pretty. But he gutted it out, played well and got us a win and got us to the bowl game. Bottom line is that this time off has been great for him. I think he’s back to 100 percent. Now we just have to keep him upright and keep him healthy.”
With Maxwell at 100 percent, Warner knows it will be important for the Spartans to move their first year starter around in the pocket more.
“I think that’s important all the time,” stated Warner. “We haven’t done as good of a job with that as we should have in the past, but certainly any time they know where your quarterback is sitting, it’s a little bit easier to get there. With TCU’s defensive linemen and their ability, I think we do need to move Andrew around.”
Warner also knows Maxwell is no longer an untested player after a season of battles in the Big Ten.
“I’ve been impressed with the maturity process he’s gone through, but I haven’t been surprised,” said Warner. “That’s Andrew Maxwell. He handles everything in a mature way. He’s his biggest critic, but he also has a lot of confidence in himself. From a physical standpoint, this time off has helped him heal. But from a mental standpoint, I think it has refreshed him a little bit. He’s practiced very well this week. The time off, just to clear his head, and having a chance to get away from it for a little bit, has been good for him as well.”