NCF Nation: Lewis
September, 8, 2012
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell had the luxury of being able to learn from a shaky performance that still resulted in a key win for his team.
Despite three interceptions and no touchdown strikes in his first career start last week against Boise State, Maxwell walked out of Spartan Stadium a winner -- with plenty of work ahead of him. He took advantage this week and delivered a much more polished performance Saturday as Michigan State crushed Central Michigan 41-7 on the road.
After a few hiccups in the first quarter, Maxwell came alive and finished the first half with more than 200 passing yards. He spread the ball around to his receivers, namely Bennie Fowler, who recorded his first 100-yard receiving performance. Michigan State's coaches also got more pass-catchers involved, namely Tennessee transfer DeAnthony Arnett, who had a 48-yard reception in the third quarter that helped set up a touchdown. Maxwell finished the game 21-of-32 passing for 287 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. A solid performance.
Michigan State received typical play from its defense, the top unit in the Big Ten, which recorded a pair of interceptions (Isaiah Lewis and Johnny Adams) and held Central Michigan to 14 first downs and 238 total yards. If not for a late pick-six by the Chippewas, the Spartans would have recorded the shutout.
Junior running back Le'Veon Bell made a couple of trips to the end zone, and backup Larry Caper had a nice day (9 carries, 66 yards).
But this game was all about Maxwell and getting him more on track before next week's showdown against Notre Dame in Spartan Stadium. Most agree Michigan State looks like a championship team on defense and boasts a major weapon in Bell. But if the quarterback situation isn't settled and the Spartans don't have a threat in the passing game, they'll have a tough time getting to Pasadena. Maxwell took a step Saturday. He'll have to take another as the competition level goes way up again with the Irish coming to town.