After watching Kirk Cousins for the past three seasons, 2012 has been Andrew Maxwell's year in charge at quarterback.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- More than a few college quarterbacks transfer immediately upon knowing they won't be starters for a program. Not Andrew Maxwell, who stuck with Michigan State for the past three seasons before he finally got his chance to be the man.
It's not the ideal situation, but Maxwell did fairly well in his first season as Michigan State's No. 1 quarterback. The junior had his struggles, but passed for 2,578 yards and 13 touchdowns in the Spartans' balanced offense and will run the offense for Michigan State when it faces TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl on Friday in Tempe.
Maxwell arrived in East Lansing in 2009, with Kirk Cousins already ahead of him on the depth chart as a redshirt sophomore. He watched Cousins stay long after practices and watch film.
"That's something I took note of," Maxwell said.
Cousins went on to set school records in career passing yards, touchdowns and completions. He led the Spartans to back-to-back 11-win seasons, and is now getting playing time in the NFL.
"I'm so proud of Kirk and what he's doing," Maxwell said. "He's worked hard for everything."
The Spartans didn't have as good a season as they'd hoped, at least on offense. The defense was one of the nation's best, but the offense couldn't take advantage as often as it was given opportunities. MSU lost two overtime games and five of its losses came by a combined (and agonizing) 13 points.
But Maxwell sees this bowl game as fresh start, of sorts.
"You get to come out here, you get to be together as a team," he said. "Obviously the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year, we didn't accomplish what we wanted to, but the fact that we're here, we're really enjoying it and we're making the most of it."
And Maxwell already made one smart move as a quarterback since he arrived in Arizona. He took it easier on the chicken wings than did some of his teammates. More than 7,300 were consumed by both TCU and Michigan State players at a local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, an average of 33 per player for the Spartans.
"We've had guys play at a high level here, so the expectations are to be that type of quarterback," Spartans coach Mark D'Antonio said. "He's very much in the media spotlight a lot, but Andrew has special skills. He's first year starting, so the inexperience (is there) at times... while statistically he may not have been as successful as (media) would think, he's been a tremendous leader for our program and he gets rid of the ball."