Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 11/18/14

Junior quarterback Andrew Maxwell isn’t trying to fill anyone’s shoes this year. He’s just hoping that he can build on what the Spartans have achieved these past two seasons.

Mark Dantonio

“What you have to be careful of is putting that pressure on yourself to fill the shoes,” Maxwell said Thursday at the Big Ten Media Days. “Kirk (Cousins) and I are different people. Kirk’s success on the field speaks for itself. Kirk’s reputation off the field is well known. Great player, better person. But I have to realize that I’m not Kirk Cousins, I’m Andrew Maxwell.”

After Cousins developed so well under Mark Dantonio’s tutelage, Maxwell is coming into his own as a leader for the offense and for the entire 2012 Michigan State football team.

“I have a great deal of confidence in Andrew as a person and as a player,” Dantonio said. “And I always have. It takes a special person to be patient in this day and age, to wait, to continue to work hard, and to do the things that he needs to do. He’s an established leader on our football team in season and out of season. I have a great deal of respect for him and it’s his time. I know the guy that we recruited. When we looked at quarterbacks we looked at quarterbacks across the nation. I know the quarterback that we got. He has not disappointed us at any point throughout the journey.”

“People wondered what we would be like when Brian Hoyer left, and it was Kirk Cousins’ turn,” Dantonio added. “So 2009 we didn’t quite have all the other components when Kirk stepped in to there. But Kirk Cousins, I felt played very well in 2009. Right now, our supporting cast is more developed, more experienced, around Andrew and then the added component is he’s worked with the wide receivers. It’s not like he’s throwing to new guys. He’s got that rhythm and timing with those guys.”

“When I was a second string guy, they were second string guys,” Maxwell said. “When I was a scout team guy, they were scout team guys. The chemistry is there. That’s been building for two, three years. We’ve been explosive, we’ve been an offense that could put up points the last couple years, and I feel like with the people we have coming back, we have the potential to do the exact same thing.”

Listening to Dantonio speak at the Big Ten Media Days about Maxwell, one can feel the coach’s extreme confidence in his new quarterback.

“I’ve see him perform for the last three years,” Dantonio said. “I’ve listened to our quarterback coach Dave Warner talk about him from Day 1. I’ve seen his arm strength. I’ve seen his ability to get out of pressure situations. I’ve seen his composure against our defense. I’ve seen him get up after he’s been knocked down. I know he’s an extremely quick learner. I have no worries.”

Dantonio’s confidence has inspired his team to compete for and win championships since he arrived as Michigan State’s head football coach.

“When we came here in 2007 as a staff, that’s always been our goal, that’s always been our mission,” Dantonio said. “If you can go beyond that, then really special things can happen. So that remains the thing that we’re still chasing. Everybody needs a dream, and when you’re done dreaming you’re at the end. Our dream is for a Rose Bowl, our dream is for a national championship. We need to challenge ourselves. We’re getting talked about across the country, we’re getting some respect. Obviously, there is some unfinished business and we’re not there yet, but we are continuing to build a very solid foundation. We need to rise to every challenge.”

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