By Adam Biggers
Andrew Maxwell doesn't have to be as good as Kirk Cousins was last season.
He has to better.
Although the soon-to-be-junior only appeared during mop-up duty for the Spartans, he's shown glimpses of incredible promise. In a 44-0 win over Florida Atlantic, he went 6-for-10 with 63 yards, including a pass for 30 yards. He completed 69.2 percent of throws and touted a nearly 7-yard per completion average (18-26, 171 yards, 1 TD).
There have been mixed reviews on Maxwell, a former four-star prep quarterback at Midland High. Some are satisfied, while others think he needs to develop more.
However, Cousins, who holds nearly every quarterback-related record at Michigan State, has said Maxwell's game is further along than his was at the same stage.
"Andrew's a guy who doesn't need a whole lot of advice from me," Cousins said "He's very mature. He's been around the block. He knows what's going on, so I don't have to sit down and have any mentoring talks with him. He knows what he's doing.
"I'm excited for him, the team, the talent that will be around him, and I'm excited to see all of that put in display. I think he's going to have a great career and a great first year starting coming up this fall."
Cousins' confidence in Maxwell should be reassuring for Spartans fans. But remember, there are just two returning wide receivers with any type of real experience: Tony Lippett, who can play both sides of the ball, and Bennie Fowler, who suffered a foot injury for the majority of the 2011 season.
And also take into account that Michigan State lost offensive linemen Joel Foreman and Jared McGaha to graduation, which will put a dent in depth.
Maxwell simply has to make the transition as smooth as possible. Some quarterbacks step in and have initial success. Some freeze up and do poorly.
Cousins, although a sophomore at the time, didn't come in and immediately dazzle. It took some time getting comfortable—and he split snaps with Keith Nichol that year.
There's no doubting that Maxwell has a significant role to fill. He'll be a player looked to continue Michigan State's success under Dantonio. The Spartans have reloaded talent, and Dantonio feels they'll be competitive—even with a new quarterback.
"There were questions as we left 2010," Dantonio said. "Can we replace Greg Jones and Eric Gordon? Could we replace our punter, Aaron Bates, or [wide receiver] Mark Dell? We were able to do that and progress, so there are great possibilities. Our football team is poised for that, but at the same time we need to guard against being complacent and understand we're going to be judged game-to-game.
"It's important we bring our energy with us in everything we do, but there's no question we have confidence. There's no question we have continuity. We've built a great foundation to springboard us forward."
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