By Ashley Dunkak
Even through the first couple weeks of the season, no one had seized the starting quarterback job at Michigan State. Eventually Connor Cook emerged, and though he has sometimes been shaky, he gave the Spartans all they needed in a powerful 29-6 win Saturday over rival Michigan.
“That’s the best I have ever felt playing the game of football,” Cook said. “The rivalry, the tradition, the way we just physically beat Michigan. It just felt good.”
Cook said he talked with several people the week leading up to the game, including a sports psychologist, about how to approach the rivalry matchup.
“I just went in this game with the main focus on being poised no matter what was going to go on early in the game, late in the game,” Cook said. “I was resilient, like I have been, and I thought I remained poised throughout the whole game.”
Cook completed 18 of 33 passing attempts for 252 yards and threw one touchdown and one interception. His quarterback rating was a paltry 46.2, but with one of the best defenses in the country leading the way and a special teams unit spotting the offense some great field position, Cook proved to be good enough.
He said that, just like any game, there were some initial butterflies but that the offense found its groove after the first few snaps against the Wolverines.
“Connor’s a young quarterback, and they’ve got a good defense,” Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Connor’s going to struggle a little bit … but the thing I continue to say about Connor Cook, he is resilient. He can bounce back, and that’s what you see. In the long run, that will serve him very, very well as he gains experience as he goes through this.”
Offense had been the bane of the Spartans early in the season, but Cook maintained that the offense is better than most realize. After all, it faces a pretty fearsome defense in practice.
“We go against them every single day,” Cook said. “We’ve gone against them for the past however many years, and we do good against them, so if we do against them, we can do good against any defense in the country.”