Should NU Fear a Running Maxwell?
Among the headlines that may have grabbed your attention leading up to Nebraska's game at Michigan State this weekend, was an interview with Spartan quarterback Andrew Maxwell. The normally immobile passer alluded to doing more running against the Huskers. Given that it's been NU's Achilles' heel throughout the Bo Pelini era, that might give Big Red fans pause. Should Nebraska be worried?
Let's not confuse Maxwell with Tyrod Taylor, Chase Daniel, Jerome Tiller, Colt McCoy, Ryan Tannehill, Jake Locker, Russell Wilson, Kain Colter, Denard Robinson, Connor Shaw, Johnathan Franklin, or Braxton Miller. Those guys were true dual-threats and had shown they could run prior to playing the Huskers. You might look at a guy like Garrett Gilbert of Texas that didn't seem like a dual threat prior to playing Nebraska before killing NU with his legs. Gilbert still had shown a bit more than Maxwell to that point as a runner and ended up with fairly big rushing days in a number of games that followed that year (2010).
Who does that leave? A pair of Texas Tech quarterbacks and a pair of Sooner quarterbacks. Michigan State's offense looks very little like the ones run by Mike Leach or Bob Stoops. And there's no Michael Crabtree or DeMarco Murray on the Spartans roster. It is notable that in a few of those games, the normally pocket passers did some damage with their legs. Red Raider QB's scored rushing touchdowns as did the lead-footed Landry Jones. In a couple of games, that may have been decisive.
Still, Maxwell and the offense around him doesn't appear to pose the same threat. Kirk Cousins was aware of NU's vulnerability to QB runs. It netted him one first down on a scoreless drive.
It's fair to say that Maxwell could move the chains a time or two with his legs. He might even manage to sneak in around the goal line with a run. But the thought that he's going to change the game with his legs seems laughable given his performances to date. His longest career rush is ten yards. His only game with positive rushing yards was against Eastern Michigan (two carries for ten yards). It's fair to say that Pelini won't need to change his gameplan to account for Maxwell runs. If anything, he might be hoping to see them.