By Ashley Dunkak
Now a backup quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, former Michigan State passer Drew Stanton reminisced Tuesday on his time with the Detroit Lions and offered insight on the messy quarterback situation taking place at his alma mater.
Two games into the college season, the Spartans are still trying to decide on a starting quarterback. Head coach Mark Dantonio said all four – Andrew Maxwell, Connor Cook, Tyler O’Connor and Damion Terry – are still in the mix.
Stanton said that kind of uncertainty at such a central position is a bad plan.
“I’ve always felt like it’s hard to split time with quarterbacks,” Stanton said. “You’d like to see them make a decision, if they feel good about it, and just stick with it. The identity of your team is sometimes centered around your quarterback, and if it’s a constant carousel in there and guys can’t get into rhythms, there’s so much pressure on you to try to go in there and get points that you can’t relax and play how you want to play. I know that I experienced that a little bit with Stephen Reaves and Damon Dowdell when I was first at Michigan State.”
While he said he could not give an opinion on who should start, having seen so little of several of the different contenders, he said that having a true freshman like Terry start would not be a problem for him.
“At this level now, kids are so prepared coming out of high school that they have the ability to come in and do stuff, especially with what we’re seeing in the college game nowadays with kids being athletic at the quarterback position, trying to create things with their feet,” Stanton said. “I don’t know if that’s something they’re going to continue to try and do, but if that’s what this offense wants to be, then so be it with this kid. Just let him get in there and use his ability and try and understand that there’s going to be growing pains but also he’s going to have four years to develop and see what he can do.”
Stanton managed to pin down the starting spot during his time as a Spartan, but he did not get so lucky in Detroit. He did experience some history, though, enduring the 2008 team’s 0-16 season, the first ever in the NFL.
“That was not a bad football team,” Stanton said. “We just unfortunately couldn’t get a single break to go our way over the course of a 16-game season. It was difficult to be a part of. There’s a lot of reasons for that, that contributed to us not having success, but [head coach] Rod Marinelli definitely was not one of those. I saw him this preseason and told him that I have nothing but the utmost respect for him and just think he is a tremendous coach and a human being.”
Stanton would not get into specifics about what happened that year, but from his comments, it seems safe to infer that the chemistry was not good.
“There’s a lot of things that might have contributed to it, mainly some people just not seeing eye to eye and other people not buying into what we were trying to do,” Stanton said. “There’s a lot of moving pieces to it. In this league, it’s a handful of plays that’s going to determine the outcome of the game, and if you’re not on the same page with guys or we’re not speaking the same language or being innovative with what we’re trying to do, then it’s difficult. It’s easy to point the finger at the head coach.”
Not all Stanton’s time with the Lions was bad, though. He said he enjoyed the people and players he met in Detroit and that he hung his hat on being a part of the team’s surge at the end of 2010 and their push into the playoffs in 2011.