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Michigan State Football: Switching quarterbacks won’t fix offensive issues

There’s more than just one issue with this team.



Michigan State football
© Dale Young-USA TODAY Sports

While many Michigan State football fans are clamoring for a quarterback change, that won’t instantly fix the offensive issues.

After another frustrating loss to Maryland, Michigan State football fans are searching for answers to try and help fix the team. In this sport, naturally, that starts with the quarterback. Noah Kim was awful on Saturday. He was pulled in favor of Katin Houser in the fourth quarter after throwing two interceptions.

For what feels like the better part of a calendar year, fans have been campaigning for the highly-touted quarterback to play full-time. It’s understandable. Houser has great size, a big arm, and a recruiting pedigree to back it up.

The MSU offense hasn’t been good. It’s natural to think a new quarterback could turn things around.

Here’s the thing: Michigan State is a bad football team. Bad football teams are full of problems. A quarterback can’t fix all of them. The quarterback can’t rush the passer or make open-field tackles. The quarterback can’t block or catch passes. This is a team game. Michigan State’s struggles are a shared problem.

Has quarterback play been a part of those problems? Absolutely. In addition to turning the ball over, Noah Kim missed a wide-open receiver for a touchdown late in the third quarter. He takes sacks. He doesn’t see the entire field. He consistently misses throws high. He’s a flawed player.

But Kim also threw two beautiful balls toward the end of the first half that were flat-out dropped. One would have been a touchdown. While under heavy pressure, he’s done a good job at times of extending plays and completing passes. His athleticism has been on display when he’s gotten a chance to use his legs in the open field.

The point is this: Kim, like the rest of the team, makes good plays and bad plays. He’s an inconsistent player on an inconsistent team. And at this point, that’s all there is to it. What you’re seeing at quarterback is a product of the offense as a whole. This is what it looks like when you have a bad offensive line, one healthy running back, and receivers that can’t get open.

But I can already hear your rebuttal.

“How do you know Houser isn’t a generational player that can overcome those problems?”

You’re right. I don’t know. Maybe he is. But do you honestly think that if Houser was a Caleb Williams-type talent he’d have lost the job to Kim? Because he’d need to be that special to lead this group to 30 points per game. Do you really think the coaching staff is playing the inferior player on purpose? This was an old-fashioned competition. Kim proved to be the better option after a month’s worth of practice. This staff has too much to lose to play games with their roster. But this fan base is too blinded by 247Sports recruiting rankings to think clearly.

Michigan State fans’ frustration is justified. For far too long, the offense has lacked creativity, explosiveness, and consistency. It’s a much deeper issue than the guy under center. One player can’t fix years of offensive line development. One player can’t create big plays from play designs that don’t work. It’s a program-wide issue that will require everyone to fix it.

At some point, Michigan State football will make a change. Kim doesn’t get to play forever just because he won the job in camp. It’s not fair to point the finger at everyone else. He’s part of the problem, too. Houser has worked hard and deserves the opportunity to show what he can do.

But if you’re expecting this offense to look any different with a new quarterback, you’re kidding yourself. Houser will still be throwing to the same receivers behind the same offensive line with the same playcaller. In fact, Houser showed his own inconsistencies by overthrowing a screen pass for an interception. While that drive was promising, it still resulted in zero points because of a mistake by… the quarterback.

So, when Houser does get his chance, and the offense still struggles, people will move their attention toward true freshman Sam Leavitt because the next option is always better than the current one.

Ultimately, Michigan State’s football team is who we feared they might be. There are no quick fixes. The best players are playing. We’re four games into the season, and the flaws with this team are here to stay. The coaches are doing what they can. Everyone is trying to make the best of a bad situation. That situation doesn’t make this product acceptable either. Everyone deserves a piece of the blame. That includes the quarterback. That’s one of Michigan State’s problems. It is not the only problem.