Big Ten Newsmakers: Tommy Stevens’ Blue-White showing points up why two good QBs is a necessity
In this week’s Big Ten Newsmakers, we peruse the final big weekend of conference spring football, take a look at why having two good QBs is never a bad thing, Michigan’s spring vacation to Rome, Nebraska’s transfusion of hoop talent and more…
Michigan State’s heir-apparent quarterback Brian Lewerke is sacked by Jabrill Peppers in a 32-23 loss to Michigan. Lewerke was injured in the game and missed MSU’s last four contests in 2016.
Injuries happen. At the quarterback position, especially in the age of dual-threats such as Trace McSorley, it’s not unusual for half of Big Ten quarterbacks in any one season to miss time with injuries. Last year was typical in that seven starting QBs missed at least one full game because of injury: Perry Hills (Maryland), Wilton Speight (Michigan), Brian Lewerke (Michigan State), Tommy Armstrong (Nebraska), Mitch Leidner (Minnesota), Wes Lunt (Illinois) and Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin). Behind them were several subs who got nicked up.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley (9) throws while being chased by Wisconsinas Vince Biegel (47) during rugged first half of Big Ten championship game on Dec. 3.
The point being: One of the ones who avoided a knockout injury was McSorley. Considering how often he ran the ball during the season’s second half, that was rather remarkable. So, I’m not saying he’s due. Only that he was fortunate.
But neither was my Blue-White feature on Tommy Stevens’ impressive day intended to suggest he could possibly create a quarterback controversy at Penn State, as a few fans seemed to infer. Personally, I don’t think you replace the de facto B1G player of the year (even if he wasn’t chosen as such) no matter how he plays. And I seriously doubt James Franklin feels that way, either.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley is interviewed by Fox Sports analyst Joel Klatt after his B1G championship MVP performance against Wisconsin.
What that Stevens story was intended to highlight was how well-equipped the Nittany Lions are if injury does strike. One of McSorley’s greatest strengths can also be a liability – he’s brave and a little headstrong, especially for his diminutive size. While most of the time he tends to be smart about not taking on full contact with larger defenders, there can be moments where he doesn’t or can’t fully avoid it, either. The Wisconsin game in Indianapolis where he was sandwiched with a hellacious double hit was an example. Though McSorley never missed a snap, he could have on a handful of plays like that one during the season.
Tommy Stevens (2) throws during second half of Blue-White game at Beaver Stadium.
Many other B1G offenses not only don’t have a reserve of Stevens’ quality to plug in, they don’t even have a starter with his skill set. Brent Pry’s assessment that 75 percent of the schools in the country would be starting Stevens didn’t just apply to the 128 Division I teams. In my opinion, it could qualify as a percentage for the Big Ten, too. So, while that 16-of-23, 3-TD, 0-pick performance on Saturday was just in an intrasquad scrimmage, if you compare it to what most of the backups in other B1G spring games did the last three weeks, you begin to see Stevens’ value in an increasingly dangerous world for quarterbacks. You can’t have too many good ones.