New quarterbacks headline WMU-MSU matchup

Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink passes during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Southern California, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Two of the state’s college football programs are going through big transitions in multiple ways this season.

Western Michigan is adjusting to life without former head coach PJ Fleck, and Michigan State is trying to rebound from a down 2016 season and plenty of offseason problems.

One challenge both teams are facing this year is trying to integrate a quarterback into its offense.

For Western Michigan, former Grand Rapids South Christian standout John Wassink is taking over the team after the departure of longtime starter Zach Terrell. Wassink got his first taste of starting a game in WMU’s near-upset of No. 4 USC last weekend.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to give him opportunity, depending on what type of game you’re in,” WMU head coach Tim Lester said. “I thought John played pretty good, 11-of-22 isn’t great, (but) he had three drops, even the interception bounced right off our guy’s chest. There was nothing else he could have done other than do something really dumb.”

MSU head coach Mark Dantonio had high praise heading into his team’s matchup with the Broncos.

“I thought he did a great job running the offense (against USC), I think they did exactly what they asked him to do and (he) will probably throw the ball more effectively as he gets older,” he said. “He throws the deep ball well and he’s a threat to run the football.”

The Spartans are hoping that sophomore quarterback Brian Lewerke will be a mainstay at the position in the years to come. Lewerke finished with 250 yards passing and three touchdowns in a 35-10 win over Bowling Green last weekend.

“I thought Brian Lewerke played well and I thought he was in control of the offense. I thought he left some balls short, underthrew them a little bit, but he’s got a great arm,” Dantonio said. “He threw a couple high, a couple right on the money, he got out of problems.”

Dantonio said the biggest thing Lewerke did was lead his team well and didn’t get overwhelmed by the moment.

“He’s only going to get better and continue to feel more comfortable in what he’s doing out there,” he said.