Quarterback Andrew Maxwell Ready for His First Start at Michigan State
Aug. 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell will be making his first career start for the Spartans Friday night against Boise State. On Tuesday, Maxwell spoke to the media about how he feels heading into the opener, the atmosphere of Spartan Stadium during night games, and the difficulty that Boise State's defense presents for an opposing offense.
Q. Three years of waiting, then a spring and a camp. Does it seem like this moment has taken forever to get here?
Andrew Maxwell: At this point, not really. You know, it's been a long process. It's been a process where I've learned a lot. I've enjoyed the process. Now that it's finally here, it feels like game time and I'm ready to go and this team's ready to go.
Q. You obviously have been part of some of the bigger night games here the past few years, watching it. What is that environment like as a player to be there? What challenges does playing here at night present to you guys and what is the experience as a whole like for you as a team and players?
Andrew Maxwell: Well, it's something special. I think Spartan Stadium at night is one of the best atmospheres in college football that you're going to find. It's so special because it doesn't happen that often.
We're not a team that's going to have a night game for no reason. When we have a night game, it's for a good reason, a big game, a big opponent.
The atmosphere is going to be live, especially it being the first game. A certain amount of hype about it. For it to be a night game, for it to be an opponent like this, it's going to be exciting, an electric atmosphere.
Q. Players, when they come in as a freshman, especially with credentials like you had, expect to play, are disappointed if they don't play, think they can conquer the world that first year. What do you understand about Andrew Maxwell of a few years ago compared to the one now? Did you have those thoughts?
Andrew Maxwell: Well, when I committed to play here, I knew there was a good possibility that I would have to wait these three years. That's what I was prepared for and ready for partly because I realized just how hard it is to come in and play as a true freshman. Anybody who does that in Division I college football I have a tremendous amount of respect for.
You get here, Coach Dantonio says it best, it's kind of the stages of learning. You don't know what you don't know. There are so many things that as a high school player coming out you don't even recognize are part of the game that you need to know let alone do you know them.
Especially for the first year, but through the three years, I've learned so much just from sitting behind Kirk (Cousins), from viewing him go through all these experiences. But I've also grown a lot as a person. I'm a completely different person standing here now at 21 than when I came here at 18. This waiting, this maturing through the last three years have given me that.
At the same time for me being here at Michigan State is so much more. It's not just about football, it's about the family I've built here, the friendships I'm going to have for the rest of my life. To go somewhere else just on the sole basis of wanting to play right away, that's something I can't sacrifice for what I've gotten here in the last three years.
Q. What is your mindset over the last three days, the calm before the storm? Coach D mentioned he spoke with you this weekend about what this game is going to be like. What are you feeling right now?
Andrew Maxwell: I'm excited. You know, I'm not so much nervous, but anxious and excited to get out on the field and get ready to play. Even when I wasn't playing, even when I was a backup, just the buildup to the first game. You've put in so much work from the off season, it seems forever ago the Outback Bowl was, through winter conditioning and all the running in the summer with Coach Mannie, and camp, all the preparation with myself and this team, we're ready to put it on display, come out and prove ourselves.
Q. When it comes to the stuff maybe you aren't going to expect, do you go to people, whether it be Kirk or somebody else, and look for advice about what that first start is going to be like, give you tips, prepare yourself?
Andrew Maxwell: Yeah, I haven't reached out to Kirk or anybody about that kind of stuff. But, you know, there is that certain amount of unknown in that first game, be it your first start ever or the first game of the season. There's always going to be something.
It seems like every year there's something on the field you didn't see on film you maybe didn't quite prepare for because teams add things in the off season, teams put in new things every year. That's something you have to react and adjust for.
It being my first start, it is a little different for me because I have been here for so long, I've had all the experiences I had in practice. The coaches have done a great job preparing myself and this team for the season because of all the situations we were put through in training camp.
Every situation we try to make as game like as possible. We tried to simulate every possible scenario we see on the field so we're not caught off guard on Friday night.
Q. Coach said he talked to you today about being yourself. What does that mean? What are you doing when you're being yourself? Is part of that slowing the game down when you're all amped up to play?
Andrew Maxwell: You want to come out excited, but you don't want to come out too excited where your mind is racing a million miles an hour, you're making uncharacteristic mental mistakes, you're a little too amped up so maybe your throws aren't too on point.
It's the fine line between playing with emotion and playing stable in the fact that you're not getting too caught up in the highs or too caught up in the lows, that you're going to be able to perform your best when your best is needed, and perform that way throughout the whole game.
Q. A lot of talk about Boise State's offense, all the different things they do. Creative stuff on defense, too. Talk about what you've seen on film. How difficult is it when you don't have much film on the individual players who are out there?
Andrew Maxwell: Yeah, that's the thing. You can study schemes, but you don't know exactly the personnel and players that are going to be executing those schemes.
When I watched the film, I saw a team that plays really well together. That goes from the front four on the defensive line to the secondary and everywhere in between. Very multiple in their fronts, their blitzes, coverages. They get to things a lot of different ways.
That's going to be a challenge for us, is just recognizing that and also adjusting to the personnel, then getting a feel for them, what kind of players they have out there.
Q. How old were you when you established yourself as a quarterback, when that became your position? What about it attracted you to playing quarterback?
Andrew Maxwell: When I first started playing football, I was eight. I played quarterback because my dad thought that would be a good fit for me. I don't know if you know any peewee quarterbacks, but they don't do a whole lot except turn around and hand the ball off.
By the time I was 11, I decided that's not what I wanted to do. I wanted to play defense because that's where the action was and that's where the hitting was. Then in ninth grade I went back to play quarterback. Obviously high school football is a whole different game and the quarterback position is whole different at the high school level. I like being in command of the offense, being the guy who is in charge, being the guy who has the opportunity to make plays when they present themselves, being a part of a unit as an offense that can do special things.
Q. What are your memories of the last time you were able to step on a field on game day as quarterback starting in Midland?
Andrew Maxwell: That seems like a while ago now. It was November of 2008. We were playing Davison High School in the regionals of the playoffs. Nothing quite like that feel of a high school playoff game. It's November. It's a little cool. It's win or go home. That was my last starting experience. There's some nerves. There's some excitement there. Especially being a senior in high school, you really want to go out and give it your all because for a lot of guys, that might be the last time they ever play football. That was an exciting night, an exciting time. Unfortunately we came up a little short, but great memories there.
Q. You referenced the multiplicity of their defense. Does that make the pre-snap reads even more important when they're moving all over all the time?
Andrew Maxwell: Yeah, absolutely. You want to gather as much information as possible pre-snap. That speaks to the importance of keeping your head on a swivel when you're under center, when you're in the shotgun, just gathering as much information as possible, recognizing, trying to find keys, trying to find clues. That comes from picking it up on film, and in the game, are the things you're studying on film, is that what you're getting? Are those keys and those clues holding true? So pre-snap routine is going to be critical for us this game.
Q. Did you get a chance to go home this weekend and take one last big breath before everything gets going here?
Andrew Maxwell: Yeah, I did. I went to Midland. I went back on Thursday afternoon. Hung out with my family, saw a couple friends. Nice to just kind of take a step back, catch your breath, get ready to go for this week.
Q. I don't know if you've seen this, but Dantonio mentioned that your defense has been working against extra receivers, 14 guys. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. Was he serious about that?
Andrew Maxwell: He said we were working against extra receivers? We've been running two huddles out of our defense, getting them ready for the fast paced play. We do that during weeks when we play a team that is more up tempo and is going to throw more stuff at you.
Q. How does that work?
Andrew Maxwell: You have the defense. So you have the ball spotted in one place. You have two huddles behind it. You play one call for one huddle, they run the play. They spot it. Then as soon as that play is over, the next huddle is breaking and ready for the next one.
Q. Are you comfortable with the audible system at this point?
Andrew Maxwell: I'm comfortable with it. I'm very comfortable with it. It's something we talk about in our quarterback meetings. It's something that you got to be aware of your weaknesses on every play, you got to be aware - if you have a play called, what defenses you're going to be running into, what's going to be a problem for you.
That's something through these three years that I've picked up and have seen Kirk taking reps at, something I've taken reps at in practice, something I'm comfortable with come Friday night.
Q. Do you feel you're as ready for this as you can possibly be? If so, how can you tell?
Andrew Maxwell: Well, I just think that the calm that I have about me right now shows that I'm ready. I'm really not overall anxious. I'm really not overall nervous. This is what you prepare for. Going against a defense like ours, getting the reps, being put in the scenarios we get put in day in and day out at practice, that's going to prepare a team as best as anything. I'm comfortable with the guys around me, I'm comfortable with my preparation and the team's preparation.
Q. It dawned on me you probably answered more questions in the last month than your whole life. How do you like this? Are you up for 12 weeks of this?
Andrew Maxwell: I think so, yeah. I've gotten a lot more comfortable with it. At first it was kind of a shock, something that I really wasn't prepared for, comfortable with. I've gotten more comfortable with you guys. You guys are all right. Thank you.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
at the official