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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 22, 2017 2:40 am

Irish prepping for MSU's dual-threat QB

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame's Greer Martini responded how most defensive players likely would when asked what it's like to prepare for Michigan State now that the Spartans have a quarterback who can run.

Basically, it's another headache.

"With a dual-threat quarterback, obviously you've got to be sound in pass responsibility, but, at the same time, you have to be aware of his ability to leave the pocket and run for first downs and extend plays," Martini said as he looked ahead to Saturday's game at Spartan Stadium. "As a defense, you've got to be aware of that and play it smart and have guys rallying down to the ball when he takes off."

Brian Lewerke, named Michigan State's starter last winter, ran seven times (not counting sacks) for 91 yards and two touchdowns in the Spartans' last game, a 28-14 win over Western Michigan. His coach, Mark Dantonio, made it clear that running will remain a big part of Lewerke's game.

"His dad keeps telling me that he's a lot faster than you think," Dantonio said. "He is. If he's got the ability to run, we'll take it. I think he's an additional weapon. He can create. He can run with the football. He's a natural athlete."

A sophomore who bulked up to 215 pounds over the offseason, Lewerke has rushed for more than 300 yards in just six career games. He rushed eight times for 69 yards when the Spartans beat Bowling Green in this season's opener.

Notre Dame cornerback Julian Love expects nothing different Saturday night.

"He's a good quarterback," Love said. "He has a high completion percentage (65 percent). We have to contain his ability to run, as well. He has some veteran playmakers around him. (Irish defensive coordinator Mike) Elko has a great game plan, and we're just going to go by that."