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MSU flashes QB depth in Green-White game

Associated Press • Apr 9, 2018 at 11:04 PM

EAST LANSING — Brian Lewerke did not play much in the Michigan State spring game. He wasn't expected to and he didn't have to.

Lewerke is the Spartans' second-year starting quarterback and in limited action late Saturday afternoon in chilly temperatures at Spartan Stadium, he completed 7-of-12 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown. All in a day's work, or in this case, about a quarter and a half.

The plan was never to play him much, allowing young backups Rocky Lombardi, a redshirt freshman, and early enrollee Theo Day a chance to get their feet wet in a game-like setting.

Still, even in a short amount of time, Lewerke looked like — and later sounded like — a guy in charge.

"I thought Lewerke was very spot on," MSU coach Mark Dantonio said Saturday. "He was crisp, knew where to go with the ball, did the things he had to do."

With 42 seconds left in the first half, Lewerke completed a 30-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Stewart putting a bow on a 50-yard drive in 1:03. The offense prevailed 32-27.

Lewerke, who started every game last season and helped lead the Spartans to a 10-3 record, said that success carried over into winter conditioning and spring practice.

"With the amount of guys that we have back, our team being young, I think it bodes well for us," he said after the spring game.

He is coming off a bowl game performance that earned him the game's offensive MVP award and he has continued to improve.

During spring practices — Michigan State has a final practice on Tuesday — Lewerke said he has taken his game a step further by always placing himself in a game-like focus and approach.

"Preparation-wise it's not much different," he said of this spring practice versus last year's. "You've got to prepare the same amount. For me, I was able to analyze situations more game-like during practice, kinda use my game experience and pretend everything going on in practice is like a game. It helps to develop yourself once game time comes."

By no means does Lewerke think he's a finished product. He wants to improve his completion percentage, but in the big picture, he wants to make the offense overall more balanced, run, pass, a "two-headed monster" as he said.

"Try to create balance on both sides is big for us," Lewerke said.

It is Dantonio's concern to develop depth at quarterback, which is why Lombardi, in particular, and Day had opportunities in the spring game. Lombardi was 10-of-22 for 135 yards and one touchdown.

Lombardi led a late-game touchdown drive and threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Stewart with 11 seconds left. Day was 5-of-10 for 52 yards.

"The other two guys had some great moments," Dantonio said of Lombardi and Day. "Rocky played pretty well as the game progressed on. I thought Theo came in the second half and threw some good balls. Just got to get the ball out quicker at times."

Lombardi said he has made a point to get to know his receivers and has worked on timing. He put that to use in the second half with his added playing time.

"Going into the second half, getting that repetition and getting into a rhythm helped me out," Lombardi said.

While Lewerke has continued to work to improve his game, he has been abundantly available to Lombardi and Day.

"He's been awesome throughout practice especially with helping me," Lombardi said. "I don't think I would be to the point where I'm at without his help. Our whole team needs him right now so he's done a fantastic job."

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