Payton Thorne has gotten off to a slow start this season, but if he corrects his back-foot throws, Michigan State football will be just fine.
As we slide into the third week of Michigan State football’s 2022 season, one thing has become painfully clear: Payton Thorne has not been playing well.
The junior quarterback and second-year starter was expecting to break out this season but has gotten off to a slow start, completing 58 percent of his passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns. He has three fairly bad interceptions as well which has fans scratching their heads.
But Mel Tucker told the media on Monday that he’s “not concerned” about Thorne’s struggles through two games against inferior opponents.
And after watching the replays of both games, it’s easy to agree with the head coach. The issues that have plagued Thorne are entirely correctable. These mechanical issues did not plague him last year and he’s proven to be a much better quarterback than what he has shown.
So what is the main issue, mechanically? Back-foot throws.
Thorne has 22 incompletions this year and three interceptions and I’d be willing to bet that 90 percent of those throws have been off his back foot. He has been feeling pressure before it’s even there and he reacts by getting rid of the ball before stepping into his throws.
If you go back and watch the first two games, he’s not stepping in to a lot of his throws. The ones that he is stepping in to, he’s throwing dots. There’s a clear issue here and it’s either he’s afraid of getting hit or he’s not trusting his offensive line yet. He has had plenty of time to throw in a clean pocket outside of two instances against Akron where he should have just taken the sack but he threw the ball into traffic instead and they were picked off.
All three of his interceptions this year were mental mistakes rather than strictly bad throws. Correctable issue.
If he can stop throwing off his back foot and continue stepping in to his throws, he’s going to see his numbers improve drastically and the fan base will slowly creep away from the panic button.