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It's Time For Payton Thorne To Prove Himself...Again

The Spartan QB has not played up to his standard through two weeks, and he'll need to perform better for Michigan State to earn a West Coast win in Week 3

Payton Thorne's redshirt junior season has not gotten started the way many anticipated it would.

Michigan State's second-year starting quarterback had a record-breaking campaign in 2021, and the Spartans' first two games in 2022 came against programs that looked susceptible to big performances in the pass game.

However, in those two games, Thorne has completed just under 58 percent of his throws (30-of-52) with four touchdown passes aand three interceptions. He's averaging 222.5 passing yards per game. 

“I need to take care of the ball better. It’s not acceptable to be turning the ball over," Thorne said after throwing two interceptions in the Spartans' last game against Akron.

The redshirt junior also threw a costly pick in the red zone in Week 1 against Western Michigan, which likely took points off the board for MSU.

Thorne was not sharp with his throws against the Broncos, and he was clearly struggling with his accuracy. Specifically, the ball was sailing high on many of his throws. Against Akron, Thorne's accuracy was improved, but their were still several high throws from the redshirt junior.

“I’m really tired of throwing the ball high," Thorne said. "It’s pissing me off, because it was the same thing last week, and that’s never been an issue for me. So, I’ve got to figure that out quickly, because we can’t have that anymore.”

The quarterback self-diagnosed some of the problems he's been having, but also acknowledged a need to watch game film to get a fix on what's causing his accuracy issues.

“I’m not necessarily finishing some throws … Sometimes I’m just trying to place it a little too much instead of just ripping it. I think that’s part of it," Thorne said.

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“It always starts with your feet, so I’ll have to take a look at my feet, make sure my base is good and my feet are active," Thorne said. "I’m definitely going to do a good self-study after this one and, obviously, I need to be better.”

Thorne's early struggles have not hampered Michigan State through two games, with the Spartans winning both by a combined score of 87-13.

But the warm-up games are over. Michigan State's season begins in earnest this Saturday at Washington, before the Spartans enter Big Ten play the following week.

Thorne is a good quarterback. He proved that last year when he broke MSU's program record with 27 touchdown passes in a single season, and threw for 3,240 yards.

But he hasn't played up to his standard yet in 2022, and the Spartans will need him to play better to achieve the goals they set for themselves before the season began.

Thorne struggled at times a year ago when tailback Kenneth Walker III wasn't able to get loose in the run game. When Michigan State struggled to run the ball, in games like Nebraska and Indiana, Thorne struggled to lead the offense down the field with his arm.

But that can't be used as an explanation for the quarterback's struggles against Western Michigan and Akron. The Spartans had a 100-yard rusher in each game, and have averaged 228.5 rushing yards per game in those two games.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Thorne said he was "back to neutral" — a common term used by MSU coaches and players to describe keeping their emotions and attitudes in check — after watching film and making corrections.

Michigan State hits the road and will play in a hostile environment for the first time in 2022 tomorrow. It wouldn't be surprising to see Washington load up to stop the run and dare the Spartan quarterback to beat them.

It's on Payton Thorne to make them pay for it.