Stock down: Payton Thorne, QB
I received a fair bit of criticism last week for putting Payton Thorne in my “stock down” category, but I stand by it and double down. Even the most loyal Michigan State football fans can say Thorne had a bad week against the Zips. His accuracy was not great, he got injured, and his decision-making was off.
To clarify, I do not believe Thorne is a bad quarterback. I believe he has just had an awful two weeks. Against lesser competition, the Spartans can afford that.
In the 2014 Spartan dismantling of Eastern Michigan I mentioned at the start of the article, Connor Cook only threw six passes and finished the day with under 100 yards. With our running backs this year, the Spartans only need average to above average quarterback play to remain in games. The problem is Thorne’s first two games are trending downward to the below-average mark.
I agree with Mel Tucker that Thorne’s bad game is not a concern. In the 2021 edition of the Spartan’s first true road test of the year, Thorne threw for four touchdowns in the Miami sun. If that Thorne shows up Saturday, I will gladly write about his stock being up next week.
One thing that has not helped Thorne has been Jayden Reed’s injuries. Reed was dinged up in the opener against Western, missing some time in the second and third quarters. Based on the training camp reports of Reed having days off, I am beginning to think there was more than just hits in the last two games there. Reed also received a large gash on his back from the benches against Akron. He was the leading Spartan receiver this game, however.
This is concerning to write about him two weeks in a row, but I am confident his stock will rebound. Any quarterback will experience some struggles after losing their star wide receiver for time, and Thorne has risen to the occasion before.
If Thorne goes back to the 2021 version of himself, taking what the defense gives him, there is no more concern. His Davey O’Brien Award hopes might be shot, but not many people had him on that list to begin with. Thorne has a quick memory, and I would not be surprised to see a big bounce-back game on Saturday. Until Saturday, however, I remain apprehensive.