I've enjoyed watching Connor Cook mature these past two years, along with the rest of the Michigan State offense. If Cook can enjoy even 75% of his 2014 production this year, he'll be MSU's all-time leader in every relevant QB statistic, besides maybe completions. He has an uncanny ability to throw to spaces and trust his receivers to make plays. It's mind-boggling to think at the beginning of the 2013 season, no one had any idea what the answer was to MSU's quarterback question....and now we're talking Heisman-hype for Cook.
The other night, at a fine Lansing establishment, the talk turned to "Cook v. Kirk Cousins" if you had a choice for best Spartan quarterback of our lifetimes (sorry Jeff Smoker & Drew Stanton & that one Bill Burke year). I'm guessing we were split 50/50, until my buddy ended all discussion by bombing in a ton of statistics and arguments supporting Connor Cook. It's almost like he'd been waiting his whole life to win that argument.
I was persuaded. Here's a quick breakdown of why Cook>Cousins, with a big caveat that 1) they're both wonderful human beings and 2) you should all go outside and exercise or spend time with your family instead of arguing about hypotheticals on the Internet and 3) isn't it nice that MSU is good enough now to have these discussions?
Kirk Cousins had a knack for being less than spectacular when it mattered the most and/or throwing huge interceptions in huge games, i.e. 2010 Iowa, 2010 'Bama, 2011 Nebraska, 2011 OSU, 2011 Georgia. Caveat? His team was completely outclassed against Alabama and he wasn't asked to do a whole lot against Nebraska. But Cousins played a bunch of cupcakes and then struggled on the road (see, MSU's 2010 schedule).
I would also argue that all the wonders of the Spartan offense weren't tapped into under Cousins. Was it because the coaches didn't have the two FANTASTIC offensive lines of 2013 and 2014? Or was it because Cook learned so quickly that his development allowed Michigan State to flourish and birth the best offense in school history? The 2013 revelation of Connor Cook, star quarterback, should definitely be part of his legend. How do you go from bench to possible 1st round NFL Draft pick? People who assist the Spartan program or follow it closely simply say that the light clicked on and there became perfect symmetry between Cook's physical tools and the intricacies of the offense.
Cook has exploded in big games during the last two years; the comebacks against OSU in 2013 and Baylor in 2014 are two of the biggest wins in Spartan lore already. And even when MSU's defense got figured out and thrashed in 2014 (the Bucks, the Ducks, the Bears), Cook's outstanding deep throws gave Michigan State a fighting chance to the tune of 340 ypg in those contests. And that's without the across-the-board amazing weaponry that Cousins had at his dispotal. Take a look at the future NFL skill players from 2010-2011: B.J. Cunningham, Keshawn Martin, Brian Linthicum, Dion Sims (along with wily non-NFL Spartan veterans Mark Dell and Keith Nichol). And compare that list to Cook's recipients, known for having the dropsies (Bennie Fowler, Macgarrett Kings Jr, Keith Mumphrey, Aaron Burbridge) or for being a converted defensive back (Tony Lippett).
So just a little something to get your mind moving this afternoon. The line is so fine when you're judged on a handful of throws your make against Top 25 teams. But that's what the offseason is for.