In Defense of Connor Cook

Keep doing that, so much more of that - Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

A defense of Connor Cook and a backhanded defense of the coaches.

Yesterday Connor Cook made his first road start ever at Notre Dame. Here are the records of MSU starting QBs in their first road starts.
QB Cmp Att Yards TD INT Score
Connor Cook 16 32 135 1 0 MSU 13 ND 17
Andrew Maxwell 20 31 275 2 0 MSU 41 CMU 7
Kirk Cousins 23 35 302 1 1 MSU 30 ND 33
Brian Hoyer 11 24 135 4 1 MSU 31 ND 14
Drew Stanton 15 23 172 0 2 MSU 30 IND 20

There are three NFL Quarterbacks on that spreadsheet and two kids who haven't graduated college yet. All three of those NFL QBs had some holes in their game in their first road start. Why would it be any different for Connor Cook? Because he's better than Andrew Maxwell?

Cook had a rough first half. 5 of 15 for 44 yards is not exactly setting the world on fire.

HOWEVA! Cook played a very respectable second half. Connor Cook's 11 of 17 for 91 yards half was better than Andrew Maxwell's 11 of 21 for 74 yards GAME against WMU. The offense was moving the ball at a 4.97 yards per play clip right up until it got to be clutch time in the fourth quarter.

This is Mark Dantonio football. We want to run the ball and we want to stop the run. They did both of those things in the second half against ND yesterday. The drives were sustained with both field goal drives chewing up almost 13 minutes of clock. The undoing of yesterday's game was MSU getting cute on that trick play.

But Connor Cook didn't win us the game.

Neither did any of the QBs in the chart above. The only guy who played indisputably winning football in the above chart was Andrew Maxwell. Maybe that bodes better for Connor Cook's future.

Cook isn't good at throwing the football

If the Mark Dantonio mantra is to not throw interceptions, I don't really understand how he could be upset with Cook. His last pick was a pick six against CMU last year in garbage time. That's too big of a sample set to be ignored.

It's time for Tyler O'Connor.

Maybe? I don't know man. That calling the wrong play in the huddle thing is a really big deal. The QB needs to be the dude making sure everyone has their shit together not calling the wrong play and then almost throwing an awful pick in the endzone. Pulling the plug on Connor Cook this early seems like a huge mistake.

Look at this snuggly-soft October schedule. We could field the defense for sixty minutes against all of those teams except Iowa and come out with a win. There is time for Cook to grow and improve before the November gauntlet begins.

2013-09-22_0945_medium

via content.screencast.com Seriously I want to snuggle this schedule.

Why Andrew Maxwell?

Some men just want to watch the world burn. I don't honestly know. If Andrew Maxwell succeeds you've set up a clusterfuck for the rest of the season. If he fails you've undermined your starter for absolutely no reason. If he fails spectacularly(which is what happened), you've undermined your starter and whatever is left of Maxwell is wrecked now. You might as well make O'Connor the number two at this point.

What's happening to Dantonio?

I have some things I'm good at work and some things I'm bad at. When work gets really stressful, I get better at the good things and worse at the bad things. Offense is not Dantonio's strong suit, it's probably not even his swim suit. In this particular offensive struggle Dantonio is in over his head. It's not meant as a judgement on him as a person, but he needs to find someone to help him fix it.

In 2011, the Broncos managed to ride Tim Tebow to a playoff win despite the fact he was/is an abhorrent passer. While MSU is bringing Cook along they'd do well to try and put in more run-heavy elements to support him. The running game is showing signs of life, use it!

Finally...

At Michigan State we've been pretty spoiled the last 10 years at QB. Our last three graduating QBs are all among the top 64 quarterbacks in the world right now. We're used to seeing quarterbacks who can kick some ass and win a game for us when we need it. Maxwell is not one of those guys. Cook may not be either, but, there's nothing wrong with Cook growing into an average college QB except we EXPECT future NFLers at the position.

But, for all the folks stating Cook isn't the answer for this season, I don't agree. The data isn't there to support whether he's the answer or not. Give me a Big Ten game or two with a retooled playbook emphasizing our respectable but unspectacular run game and we'll talk.

And we will talk, because I can't shut up about this kind of stuff.

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