EAST LANSING (AP) — Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell is well aware of how many close calls his team was involved in last season.
The Spartans’ first seven Big Ten games were decided by four points or fewer, and since they lost five of them, it would be easy for this team to expect a rebound in 2013.
Maxwell, however, is taking nothing for granted.
“They really are inches — but those inches can become miles when you don’t find them,” Maxwell said. “There’s an old saying — they don’t ask how, they just ask how many. An inch here, an inch there — a loss is still a loss.”
Michigan State went 7-6 last season after falling just short of the Rose Bowl the previous two campaigns. The Spartans lost only three starters on offense and four on defense, and their schedule this season looks favorable. The hope in East Lansing is that 2012 was a mere blip for a program that has gained confidence in recent years under coach Mark Dantonio.
“Our expectations were higher, there’s no question about that,” Dantonio said Monday at media day. “I do think we had to take a step back, re-evaluate who we are, what inches we came up short on, and then transition back forward.”
Although there’s plenty of experience returning, the Spartans do have lingering questions. Running back Le’Veon Bell left school early to go to the NFL draft after a tireless junior season in which he carried the ball 382 times. Michigan State also lost tight end Dion Sims and defensive end William Gholston. They declared for the draft as well.
And the quarterback situation is a bit uncertain. Maxwell took most of the snaps last year, but he split time with Connor Cook in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. It was Cook who led the winning drive against TCU in that game.