Time is running short for Michigan State, which is undefeated and playing great defense — but still needs to figure out which of its four quarterbacks can be trusted against better competition.
The next auditions take place Saturday when the Spartans host Youngstown State of the Championship Subdivision. Next week, Michigan State plays at Notre Dame, and the Big Ten schedule begins after that. The Spartans have tried Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook and Tyler O'Connor at quarterback already this season, and now freshman Damion Terry may have a chance to join the mix.
"We want to find the one guy. We want the one guy to emerge. I don't care who it is," coach Mark Dantonio said. "They're all great young people. They're all people that have had success in high school. They're all people that have talent. But one of those guys have to emerge."
What makes the situation tricky is that there are so many candidates. In last weekend's win over South Florida, Cook started and O'Connor and Maxwell both played as well. The time-sharing arrangement meant none of the three got to throw more than 11 passes.
"It's tough to get three quarterbacks ready, first of all," Dantonio said. "It's almost impossible to get four. Tough to get three. You can get two. Usually when you're repping throughout a game week, your number one quarterback gets most of the reps. He gets probably 65 percent of the reps, I would say."
The plan this week was for Cook to be the No. 1 quarterback for the purpose of practice reps, with Terry at No. 2. Terry, a freshman, hasn't played yet this season, so the Spartans (2-0) have to weigh his ability and potential against the value of redshirting him. Youngstown State (2-0) is one of the top teams in the FCS, so Michigan State can't look past this game.