Despite his team mired in a six-game losing streak and sharing time at the position he once held, Michigan State senior QB Tyler O’Connor is earning the praises of head coach Mark Dantonio.
Speaking during the Big Ten coaches teleconference on Tuesday, Dantonio said he is proud of how O’Connor has handled the revolving door situation at quarterback this season.
O’Connor has started six of eight games this season for the Spartans but junior Damion Terry and redshirt freshman Brian Lewerke have also played. It’s a situation that could lead to upheaval in the locker room. Dantonio said that hasn’t been the case.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” Dantonio said of O’Connor. “He’s an outstanding leader and he has been prepared for this. He’s seen this program for four years so he knows our system and things of that nature. It’s difficult when you go through a situation like this, especially when you’re the quarterback. I would say probably it’s as difficult as it when you’re the head coach, almost, when you’re the quarterback.
“He’s maintained his maturity. He’s maintained his leadership throughout this.”
O’Connor has completed 98 of 136 passes for 1,341 yards, 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten with a pass-efficiency rating of 144.9. But not everything has gone smoothly this season for O’Connor.
Terry replaced O’Connor in the fourth quarter against Brigham Young. Lewerke started games against Northwestern and Maryland. All three quarterbacks played last Saturday against Michigan. Lewerke suffered a broken tibia in the game, ending his season. Dantonio has not named a starter for the game at Illinois this Saturday.
Part of that can be traced to Dantonio’s trust in how O’Connor has handled the situation.
“He will continue to push through this,” Dantonio said. “That’s the makeup of him as a person and we’re very fortunate to have a guy like that in our program in this situation because he has resolve.”