EAST LANSING — Mark Dantonio has reached his quarterback decision and he wants everyone on board.
Shortly after the Michigan State football coach named senior Andrew Maxwell as his starting quarterback for the season opener against Western Michigan (8 p.m, Big Ten Network), he talked about everyone moving forward together.
“One thing that people need to recognize and I think all Spartans need to recognize as we go forward, that it’s important that we all go forward together,” Dantonio said. “The main thing that I think is important is that this football team goes like this – that we have belief in the guy who is under the center, that we have belief in the guys that are catching the football and then our crowd and our fans appreciate that fact and move with us.
“That’s not to say it’s going to be consistent. I understand that fact in terms of fan support and things of that nature. It’s tough to play quarterback, there’s a lot going on, there’s a lot of things they have to do and that they’re in control of. But I’m confident.”
Later during the press conference, Dantonio said he wasn’t concerned with public reaction and was just making a general statement about his quarterback decision.
“I think everybody always wants to see change and that’s exciting, so they look and they lump things into what happened in the past,” Dantonio said. “I believe you have to learn from the past and to grow from the past. Probably the biggest thing we did wrong in this program is probably not give (Maxwell) enough reps as a sophomore. That’s difficult to do when you’re playing down the stretch and there were a lot of close games in 2011. Nevertheless, you wish you would have given him those game reps and provided more of a comfort level. There’s going to be times when guys struggle, that’s football.
“I know that there is controversy, I understand that, I recognize that fact but it’s important as a coaching staff, as a team and hopefully as a group of people we get behind the guy that we’re behind and we all move in the same direction.”
Asked about Dantonio urging fans to stand behind him after Tuesday’s practice, Maxwell said that meant a lot.
“I think certainly our goal is to please fans, but my main goal isn’t to please fans,” Maxwell said. “My main goal is to please this team and this coaching staff with how I’ve played at the quarterback position. I think if I execute my job like I can, and the team executes our job as we can we’re going to be able to give back to the fans.”
Maxwell started all 13 games a year ago for the Spartans but was in a battle throughout camp with Connor Cook, Tyler O’Connor and true freshman Damion Terry to earn the starting job. Dantonio said Cook, who led the Spartans to a bowl win over TCU, will also play in Friday’s season opener against Western Michigan.