Mark Dantonio says Andrew Maxwell is still Michigan State's QB

Andrew Maxwell is still Michigan State's starting QB. For now. (US Presswire)

In Michigan State's 17-16 win over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Andrew Maxwell started at quarterback like he did in every Michigan State game. What was odd, though, was that even though he started, Maxwell finished the game as the Spartans' third-leading passer.

Both Connor Cook, who replaced Maxwell at quarterback on what turned out to be the game-winning drive, and even running back Le'Veon Bell finished the game with more yards passing than Maxwell, who completed six of his 15 throws for 28 yards. It was a disappointing finish to what had been an overall disappointing season for Maxwell.

As you'd expect, with Maxwell being benched for Cook, there was the question of whether or not Maxwell would keep his job in 2013. According to Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio, he will.

"I will say this: Andrew Maxwell is still our No. 1 quarterback," Dantonio told the Detroit Free Press. "I think he’s proven, over the long haul, that he’s been in our program for four years. I think he understands what to do, he needs to do things better at certain times, but that’s where I stand on that aspect."

Now, it's important to point out that while Dantonio said Maxwell is the guy right now, Michigan State coaches expect an open competition for the job this spring. Which is the logical step for Michigan State to take.

If you look at Dantonio's quote, the biggest "compliment" that he pays Maxwell is saying the quarterback has proven "he's been in our program for four years."

Maxwell finished fourth among Big Ten quarterbacks in yards per game and passing yards. But when you look at passing efficiency, only Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase finished with a mark lower than Maxwell's 107.13. Michigan State's offense was far from potent in 2012, and its most productive player, Bell, is leaving for the NFL.

It would be foolish of Dantonio to just hand Maxwell the starting job now. He might win a competition with Cook this spring and summer, and he might go on to have a magnificent final season in East Lansing, but it's in Michigan State's best interest to make Maxwell earn it.

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CBS Sports Writer

Tom Fornelli has been a college football writer at CBS Sports since 2010. During his time at CBS, Tom has proven time and again that he hates your favorite team and thinks your rival is a paragon of football... Full Bio

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