After the quarterback position was one with a few question marks outside of Brian Lewerke and the starting job going into the Spring, the Spartans now head to the summer with plenty of answers and with the feeling that quarterback is a position of strength for the 2018 season.
Spartan Nation caught up with #5 Michigan State Spartans quarterbacks coach Brad Salem, who said that the Spartans are obviously confident with having their starting quarterback back for a second season and said that Lewerke has continued to grow and improve throughout the offseason.
“He had a really very good spring, really productive,” he said. “It’s always positive when you have a returning starter coming back and then what are the things you need to grow in? He’s done a really great job of evaluating himself and the things that he’s really got to improve on to take himself to the next level.”
In 2017, Lewerke threw for over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns, while completing 58.8-percent of his passes as he helped guide the Spartans to a 10-3 record, but enters the 2018 season poised to lead Michigan State to greater heights.
Salem noted that while Lewerke made strides as a quarterback throughout the spring, he also saw the junior signal caller continue to take on more of a leadership role during the offseason and spring as well.
“I think you always have to be honest with yourself and look at the details of the position that you need to learn, just continue to grow and just the knowledge,” he said. “Look forward to the growth as a quarterback, which I think he’s done and moved into leadership too. You move up the ladder every year you’re here.”
While the starting job was already locked up, redshirt freshman Rocky Lombardi went into the offseason as the favorite to be the backup and all but solidified his role with a strong spring session. Lombardi capped off the spring with an impressive showing in Michigan State’s annual Green and White Spring Game where he threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 10-of-22 passing.
Looking back on the spring, Salem said that he feels Lombardi made the most out of his opportunity and has been impressed with a number of aspects of his game and some of the improvements that he continues to make.
“It’s a great opportunity to do the offense, you’re going to see the ups and downs like any freshman is going to go through as far as learning it,” he said. “I think he has great knowledge coming in and now it’s an opportunity to perform it. We always say that you have to mess up something to learn it and the thing is he’s so coachable, great arm strength and really has an understanding of where to go with the ball. It’s just a matter of reps and performing in front of his teammates.”
With the majority of the attention on Lewerke and Lombardi throughout much of the spring, true freshman Theo Day was another bright spot at the quarterback position after enrolling in January. In his first action under center for the Spartans, Day threw for 52 yards on 5-of-10 passing in the spring game.
With the true freshman just months out of high school, Salem told Spartan Nation that he was impressed with the way Day handled his first spring practice session and said that he sees a lot of potential in him.
“You always think a kid who should be in high school, going to prom would be overwhelmed,” he said. “He has done a great job of just really understanding from the aspect of learning, but being able to communicate. That’s the hardest part, just signaling from calling plays to cadence to motions and every day - I remember the first practice and he looked at me and was like ‘Wow, this is fast’, so there’s a lot of things going on, but every day has gotten easier for him. Good arm talent, good leadership and just a fun kid to coach.”
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