Michigan State football

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Michigan State football: No, it’s not time for Noah Kim

Michigan State football fans love a good backup quarterback but it’s not time to move on from Payton Thorne for Noah Kim.

Every fan of a struggling football team loves the backup quarterback. That’s not different with Michigan State football fans this season as the Spartans have crawled to a 2-2 start.

To make matters worse, Payton Thorne hasn’t exactly been playing his best football.

The junior quarterback has seven touchdown passes through four games but he also has six interceptions. He threw two picks in a lopsided loss to Minnesota and he also fumbled the ball in the red zone when Michigan State had a chance to get back into the game. This type of play and turnover issue doesn’t exactly instill confidence in fans.

So when Noah Kim came in the game, staring up at a 34-0 deficit in the fourth quarter before engineering a touchdown drive in the final minute, jumping on the bandwagon was easy for some.

Kim looked great in the final minutes of the loss and his 70 yards on 6-of-7 completions with a beautiful touchdown throw to Germie Bernard but there shouldn’t be calls for a change — yet.

It’s easy to throw blame on a quarterback during a rough stretch especially when he has six interceptions through four games, but he has been far from the problem for Michigan State football.

Does Kim change the outcome of the Minnesota game? Absolutely not. Starting him wouldn’t have changed the fact that the defense gave up seven quick points and the run game was non-existent behind that offensive line and mediocre play-calling. Michigan State still loses that game.

Does Kim change the outcome of the Washington game? I would argue that it would have been even more lopsided because Thorne looked really good outside of a couple of mistakes. He kept Michigan State alive against the Huskies and wasn’t intimidated by the environment. The defense would have still let both quarterbacks down.

Before I get thrown under the bus for being a Thorne apologist in the past, I do want to say that I want the best quarterback to start. If Kim proves himself to be the better player, he deserves to be QB1. But there’s a reason Mel Tucker continues to back Thorne and says he’s not worried about him.

And you have to believe him.

Why? If you look at the games, Thorne is pressing way too much. He’s playing from behind immediately as the defense has given up long touchdown drives over the past two games and it’s already 7-0 before he can take a sip of water on the sideline. Thorne comes in and his play-calling and offensive line do him no favors. Jay Johnson dials up a run up the middle for no gain or one yard on first down and it’s already second-and-long. A potential incompletion or another run play makes it third-and-long and the drive is already dead.

Pressure builds on any quarterback when he’s down 14-0 when he’s only had one chance on offense. The room for error disappears. One mistake puts the game out of reach. That’s not on him, that’s on the coaching staff and the defense for setting him up for failure.

Are his interceptions unacceptable? Yes, because they’re all the result of poor decisions and trying to do too much. Every pick he’s thrown this year would have been avoided last year. He’s trying to do too much.

It’s easy for a backup quarterback to come in and look great against second and third-string defenders while playing with absolutely nothing to lose.

Thorne needs to be better but so do his coaches, so does his offensive line, so do his running backs, and so does the defense.

It’s OK to expect more from Thorne and potentially believe that Kim is going to be right on his heels if he’s not performing, but right now, he’s QB1 and he should be. That could all change if he fails to progress in the coming weeks assuming the defense comes alive.