Considering the struggles that Brian Lewerke has had throughout the 2018 season, and the promise that redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi has shown, there have been plenty of questions about the quarterback position in recent weeks, and understandably so.
But at his weekly press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio put any questions or concerns regarding who his starting quarterback is or will be to rest.
“Brian is our starting quarterback, I think you can go with that,” he said. “That's the foundation that he's built here. I didn't see any velocity issues according relative to his arm strength. I think you guys push and point towards trying to get answers and push people towards those things. If he was hurt, he would not be playing.”
After Michigan State’s loss to Michigan in October, reports of an injured shoulder for Lewerke, suffered in the Penn State game, came out. Lewerke then missed one game, Michigan State’s 23-13 win over Purdue, where Lombardi shined in his first career start.
After starting Saturday’s game against Maryland, Lewerke was pulled in favor Lombardi early in the fourth after throwing an interception. Lewerke threw for just 87 yards on 11-of-20 passing.
Dantonio confirmed to reporters that Lewerke isn’t 100-percent healthy, but said part of his signal caller’s poor performance at Maryland was weather related as well.”
“Is he 100 percent? Nobody is ever 100 percent 10 games into the season, but if he could not play, he would not play,” he said. “You know, that 30-mile-an-hour wind down there at Maryland, the other guy (Maryland quarterback Kasim Hill) wasn't throwing very well there, either; I'm talking about the opposing team. I think a lot of things go into that.”
While Dantonio made it clear that Lewerke is Michigan State’s starting quarterback and lists him as the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, he also said that he won’t hesitate to turn to Lombardi if and when needed as he proved to be a viable option in his first career start against Purdue.
“As I said after the football game, though, not afraid to use Rocky,” he said. “I think he made a big statement against Purdue in that football game, and I look at him as an ace reliever; and if we need to go to him, if we're not having success, then we will go to him.”
Even with Dantonio leaving no doubt who the Spartans’ starter is, there is a question of who will get the start on Saturday against Ohio State and if Lewerke will be healthy enough at game time.
“We're going to look at our quarterback throughout the week,” he said, “as we always do and see how everybody is working, playing, etc., and make decisions at game time.”
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