Michigan State Football: We don’t deserve Brian Lewerke

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 5: Quarterback Brian Lewerke #14 of the Michigan State Spartans passes in the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 5, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 5: Quarterback Brian Lewerke #14 of the Michigan State Spartans passes in the first quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes at Ohio Stadium on October 5, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

After getting blamed for things out of his control, Brian Lewerke has proven one thing: Michigan State football fans don’t deserve him.

Two plays, two fumbles and one scapegoat. That’s how the game started for Michigan State’s offense as even the announcers were using phrases like “Brian Lewerke involved in two turnovers” which gave a certain part of the fanbase exactly what it needed to hear.

And then Lewerke bounced back after Ohio State took a 10-0 lead, engineering a quick drive down the field which ended with a touchdown strike to a fired-up Darrell Stewart Jr. who had his helmet ripped off in the process. All the doubt about the offense in its first couple of drives was erased, if just for a moment.

Ohio State answered with a quick score in the second quarter to take a 17-7 lead and Lewerke led the team down the field yet again for what looked to be another quick response. He missed a wide open Cody White on easily his worst throw of the game which would have been a touchdown, instead Michigan State settled for a field goal to make it 17-10.

Still, two Ohio State scores were responded quickly by 10 Michigan State points, led by Lewerke. Yet he got no credit from some fans who could only talk about the missed throw to White which cost the Spartans seven points. It was the difference between a 17-10 score and a three-point game. Would that have ultimately changed things? Probably not as the defense couldn’t seem to grasp the art of tackling from the second quarter on.

But Lewerke still bounced back and finished the half strong. He made some NFL-caliber throws over the linebackers and between defensive backs that even made Kirk Herbstreit sing his praises.

And yet some Spartan fans were clamoring on about his miss to White.

Lewerke finished the game against the Big Ten’s best team, and arguably college football’s top squad, with 218 yards and a touchdown with an interception on 20-of-38 completion — seven of those were dropped passes.

But his completion percentage was brought up by fans on social media post-game because “he’s just not accurate.”

This is why we can’t have nice things.

Lewerke spent the entire 2018 season with a shoulder injury and fans turning their backs on the once-top-tier sophomore quarterback. He was a breakout performer in 2017 who took the Big Ten by storm, passing for over 2,700 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes while rushing for over 500 yards as well. He was compared to other MSU greats and thought to have an even brighter future than his predecessors.

And then the injury happened.

Instead of sitting out and letting Rocky Lombardi take over, Lewerke and the coaching staff decided to let him tough it out and see how he felt. It was a disaster. He struggled to throw the ball with any zip and his accuracy was just as poor as his arm strength. His ailing shoulder was causing physical issues and they turned mental. Fans were turning on him at a rapid pace, which was something he had never experienced before.

Before the injury, he was a hero. He turned a three-win Michigan State team into a 10-win squad in just one year. He was the guy who was going to revitalize the program, until he got hurt.

It’s a cold reality for injury and struggling players, and Lewerke happened to be both. You can be quickly forgotten and pushed aside, and that’s what many Spartan fans did to him a year ago.

“Rocky, Rocky, Rocky” was being chanted from the stands after the Purdue win in East Lansing while Lewerke had to sit there and listen. He was no longer “the guy” at Michigan State but rather “another quarterback” on the roster. His injury made people forget.

So he set out in the offseason to get things right. He was more motivated than ever before to prove that 2018 was an anomaly and his struggles were strictly injury-based. He looked much better in the spring game and even went to a quarterback camp and won MVP.

Expectations were back to normal heading into the 2019 season and he’s already surpassed them, completing about 59 percent of his throws for 1,543 yards and 11 touchdowns with only two interceptions, leading the Big Ten in production from the position.

Yet there are fans who want to see a different quarterback. They aren’t happy with “his inaccuracy” and “he just misses too many throws” apparently.

Forget the fact that he put the team on his back against Indiana with 378 total yards to pick the defense up when it struggled to get stops or led the Spartans down the field against Arizona State with under a minute left and gave them a chance to tie the game (which should have happened). Forget his impressive game against Ohio State where he was getting pressured and hit all game long yet he stood tall and made throws that NFL scouts are drooling over.

No, forget all about that, but rather focus on missing a couple of throws on plays that have nothing to do with the final score because you expect him to be perfect 100 percent of the time.

Not many quarterbacks would want to come back and have to prove themselves yet again to a fanbase that fell in love once but fell out of love the following season. Lewerke had to win over the fanbase twice in his career, but he never needed to. He could have mailed it in and started for another program that appreciates top-tier quarterback play.

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I’ll be the first to say it, we don’t deserve Brian Lewerke.