EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio is being cautious with his comments about his team's quarterback situation.
It's pretty easy to read between the lines.
Tyler O'Connor and Damion Terry are listed together atop the preseason depth chart as the Spartans enter the post-Connor Cook era. Although none of the quarterbacks on the current roster has much game experience, O'Connor looks like the clear favorite to start.
"We're going to allow things to progress naturally at that position, but he's our leader right now, our headline guy at the quarterback position," Dantonio said Monday at media day.
O'Connor has made only one career start, but it was a big one. He and Terry split time last year at Ohio State when Michigan State upset the Buckeyes while Cook was out injured. The Spartans went on to a Big Ten title and national playoff appearance.
O'Connor attempted only 12 passes in that Ohio State game, but one of them went for a touchdown.
"We had all the confidence we were going to go out and win, and I felt that way. I felt that I was going to go out and perform well," O'Connor said. "But looking back, you look at that defense and how many guys they had drafted and how many guys playing in the NFL, are on rosters right now. It does help you, I guess, feel more confident going into the other games."
O'Connor competed for the starting job back when he was a redshirt freshman in 2013, but Cook ended up being the choice. Cook still had three seasons of eligibility left. O'Connor faced the prospect of a long wait for his own opportunity, but he says he never gave any consideration to transferring.
"When you choose to go to a school, it's not just the football, it's the academics, it's the people, it's the coaches, it's the atmosphere — and you're not guaranteed that anywhere else," O'Connor said. "Obviously, I wish I would've been playing more, but at the same time, you're one play away at the quarterback position. So it is what it is. ... I've got one year to show what I can do."
Although O'Connor has attempted only 54 passes as a Spartan, Dantonio does not view the fifth-year senior as any sort of neophyte.
"Tyler O'Connor's a good leader. He always has been. He's taken that aspect of our program — and really it doesn't start now," Dantonio said. "He was in the quarterback competition in '13, so he had his opportunities. He had his time sort of to step out there a little bit. He's not a guy that's all of a sudden is just here. He's been heavily involved in our offense."