October 30, 2012

Maxwell enters November with confidence soaring

EAST LANSING - Mark Dantonio dismissed the notion that his team's 16-13 overtime victory at Wisconsin was a season-saver.

But the sixth-year Spartan head coach did not dismiss the importance of the win.

"We accomplished something we needed to do," Dantonio said. "We needed to win a close game. I think it was also impressive we won on the road at Camp Randall, which is difficult to do. It sends a message: keep playing, finish. I think we've got three good football games left to play and we can have an outstanding football season yet because we can do some different things. You never know how things are going to shape out."

Michigan State is 13-3 during the month of November under Dantonio. The team's record during the final month of the Big Ten season is a point of pride program-wide.

"It's been a big emphasis for us," Dantonio said. "September you're out of conference. October you're in conference. Then you have to finish. The same thing I mentioned. November has been sort of what we've tried to say around here is for contenders. We understand where we're at right now, but let's see where we're at the end. Let's focus on the next game, not worry about things too far in the distance. We have played well in November around here. We need to continue doing that. Again, I think it gives credit to our players, how they've hung in there regardless of what season we've had. They've hung in there and played well down the stretch, which is a positive thing for us."

First-year starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell believes winning in November is a mindset cultivated over the course of the year.

"Well, I think just the emphasis we put on finishing," said Maxwell. "That starts in every workout we do with Coach (Ken) Mannie in the offseason, be it winter conditioning, be it summer. We always put a focus on finishing. He always says, Start fast, finish strong. It's a habit we form in workouts, practice, and games. It's only natural when a season comes down to the end, you're used to finishing strong, you have no choice but to finish strong."

The Spartans appear better equipped for a strong finish this November than they might have prior to their win at Wisconsin.

The road victory may have been a breakthrough for Maxwell.

Maxwell completed 24 of 39 pass attempts for 219 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. An encouraging aspect of the junior quarterback's performance was his ability to extend plays and make positive gains with his arm or feet.

"He's played very well out here and had some great throws," Dantonio said. "But to do it at the end of the game like that, to do it on his arm all the way down the field, that's what was impressive to me, how he handled it, managed the game, how he handled himself. Those were the impressive things to me. The confidence that that should bring should be huge."



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