You can call him a game-manager. You can call him unexciting, slow, methodical, say he is boring to watch. But no matter what they say Connor Cook doesn't seem to hear them. The game-managing QB, has won a BIG10 Title, a Rose Bowl, orchestrated a comeback Cotton Bowl victory, and only lost three times in 27 career starts. Not bad for a game manager. Cook is the kind of QB that plays smart, he doesn't take risks, he makes his progressions, throws and more often than not, find the open receiver for a touchdown. It didn't matter if it was Kings, Lippett or anyone else in the Spartan receiving corps, Cook got the ball to them on time and often. But how does such a non-flashy QB enjoy so much success? It's time to examine where Connor Cook ranks all time among Spartan QBs.
In many ways Connor Cook personifies Mark Dantonio football. He's fundamental, methodical, tough, and smart. Starting so young, you would think Cook would struggle with turnovers but, Cook only found opposing defenders 14 times in two years of starting. On the flip side Cook threw for 46 touchdowns. That's right two years of starting and he's found the end zone 46 times. The efficiency is immeasurable for such a young QB. That's a whopping 32 more TDs than interceptions. How can Cook be so efficient? The secret is simple, he doesn't force things, takes his time makes sure not to force the ball to a covered receiver. It also helps that the Spartans have had a stable running game to keep the balance of the offense.
So how does Cook compare to his predecessor Kirk Cousins? In 2009 and 2010, Cousins first two years starting, Cousins tossed 19 and 20 touchdowns (19 in 2009, 20 in 2010). Cook has thrown for more yards in each of his first two seasons than Cousins. Cook has a better record than Cousins and has enjoyed more postseason success over the course of his career. Cousins is widely considered the greatest Michigan State QB ever for good reason but, Cook's stats have translated to more big game victories.
That being said, where does Connor Cook rank among some of the best Spartan QBs to ever lace up the cleats and wear the green and white? Cook has arguably had the most success in the history of Spartan football. Winning big games is not something many of the great Spartan QBs have done but Cook has succeeded when the pressure is at it's highest Cook hasn't crumbled delivering clutch plays in the biggest games. Successful Spartan QBs such as Jeff Smoker, Brian Hoyer, and Drew Stanton put up big numbers but never led the Spartans to postseason success quite like Cook has.
Every case has a flip side,The point can be made that the teams that Cook has been riding on the shoulders of a successful defense and running game. All are particularly valid points, but, it's worth noting Cook has done what he has needed to. Managed the clock, been smart, stayed away from turnovers and inevitably won all while amassing impressive stats.
Plus, there's one year left, another opportunity to seize the moment, and cement his place among the all-time greats. And come next May, Cook will hear his name called by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, joining the five other QBs to come out of Michigan State in the past ten years. When the dust settles down, and it's all said and done, Connor Cook will be the greatest Spartan QB of all-time.