Lewerke Pride = Spartan Pride

Lewerke Pride = Spartan Pride

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Lewerke Pride = Spartan Pride

Michigan State came up short out there in that stifling heat Saturday night. The Lewerke family, however, stands tall no matter what – and they stand tall while proudly wearing Green & White.

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At one point, it looked like a family reunion was going to turn into a family celebration into the wee hours of the desert night.

When Michigan State’s junior quarterback and captain Brian Lewerke connected with sophomore wide receiver Cody White on a beautiful 31-yard touchdown strike to give the Spartans a 13-3 lead against Arizona State in the 3rd quarter Saturday night, it felt as if the party was about to start – especially for that jubilant Lewerke contingent in Sun Devil Stadium.

However, not all family reunions end up having storybook endings – sometimes, my own family reunions are more like episodes from an Irish remake of “The Sopranos.

Even though the night didn’t turn out the way the Spartans wanted it to, the entire scene featuring Brian Lewerke’s family was something that will always be a wonderful memory for this Spartan.

His story is now well known to the Michigan State community – and I had the somewhat random chance to sit and chat with the entire family as they all sat in the lobby of the Kellogg Center on the afternoon of last season’s game against Notre Dame in East Lansing.

There they all were – dressed like a whole tailgate party filled with diehard Spartans in Green & White from head to toe, with smiles on their faces, and personalities as warm as the Arizona sun.

I shook hands with Lewerke’s father and told him his son was a terrific representative of Michigan State University – Lewerke’s mom gave me a hug as his father went on about how much the family loves Michigan State.

They’d never remember me or that exchange since there were so many well-wishing Spartans approaching them all, wishing them good luck, extending thanks for bringing their son all the way to East Lansing from the great American West.

But I’ll never forget the way the Lewerke family made me feel as I chatted with them.

Warm people.

A tight-knit yet very approachable gang.

Proud of their son, of course.

And, as Lewerke’s father said to me, all grateful to be a part of the Michigan State community.

We spoke of the unique intimacy that is so tangible within the Michigan State experience.

There we were, on the afternoon of a big time college football game between a Big Ten state university with 45,000 or so students and only the most iconic college football program in the history of the sport, Notre Dame.

Yet, we sat together in the cozy confines of Michigan State’s Kellogg Center as if we were all lounging around the Lewerkes’ living room.

Spartan players strolled by and headed into what was a final team meeting before the team made the traditional walk over and along the Red Cedar River, under and by the colors changing in the Autumn sun, on their way to Spartan Stadium.

And Lewerke’s parents both talked about the special nature of the environment, the unique way that such a large university could be made to feel like a small college nestled into a beautiful atmosphere, and how their son was blessed (this was the exact word they used) to be a Spartan.

That was a tough night for Lewerke and the Spartans.

Unfortunately, Saturday night’s homecoming for Brian wound up having a tough result, too.

But, from a numbers perspective, Lewerke is off to a much better start than it might feel like.

Through two games, Lewerke’s numbers look like this:

  • 50 for 72 for a 59.9% completion percentage.
  • 601 yards through the air.
  • 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions
  • QB Rating of 147.8

Lewerke would love to have back each of the throws that led to those two interceptions that probably blink in fire engine red when he looks at his stat line right now.

But look at each game’s stat line individually –

Arizona State:

  • 27 for 39 for 314 yards
  • 1 touchdown
  • 1 interception

Utah State:

  • 23 for 33 for 287 yards
  • 2 touchdowns
  • 1 interception

If Lewerke keeps the pace and the trends going, he’ll have yet another strong season – and it will lead to more wins for Michigan State.

Lewerke rushed for 31 yards against Utah State and ended the night at Arizona State with -12 yards on the ground (taking into account sacks).

Far be it from me to throw any suggestions Lewerke’s way since my rushing totals from my college football career as a quarterback aren’t quite as strong as his – but – it feels like there have been a few times when he might have had a shot to tuck it and dart off for the type of runs that have earned him that “dual threat” status.

And with a running game that’s still very much trying to find its way, perhaps a tuck-and-run from a guy who can outrun defenses and turn momentum with his legs might do him and the offense some good the next time the pocket feels like it’s collapsing and coverage downfield is tight.

But forgetting all of that for a moment – that scene of the Lewerkes with the smiles and the hugs and the high fives after that scintillating 31-yard beauty of a strike to Cody White – that was a great example of how we’re all pulling for the sons of some amazing fathers and mothers out there.

The Michigan State jerseys and Green & White attire all over that massive Lewerke group – that was an inspiring combination of Lewerke Pride and Spartan Pride and it’ll be a lasting image from the entire night.

And while the outcome from Saturday night didn’t go the way the Spartans or the Lewerkes wanted it to go, there is reason for all Spartans to be excited about and confident in the fact that Lewerke is just getting started as he continues to work on leading his team to great things this season and beyond.

It was nice to hear the Lewerkes say that their son is blessed to be a Spartan.

Michigan State University feels the same way.

 

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