Cook readies for ND with high confidence

Sophomore quarterback finds boost with being the starter at MSU and expresses confidence in the rest of the team -- especially the offense -- moving forward.

Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio gave sophomore Connor Cook his endorsement as the starting quarterback after the Spartans' win last Saturday.

Now, the Spartans are getting set to face Notre Dame in South Bend with Cook preparing in anyway possible.

"Watch as much film as possible," he said. "Visualize making the throws, making the reads, making the runs and just having confidence. You gotta believe in yourself and things will take care of themselves."

Confidence is one thing it appears Cook isn't lacking after his four-touchdown performance against Youngstown State.

"I'm feeling different with the confidence level after the game that we had last week with guys making plays on all sides of the ball," Cook said. "Defense, guys were making plays. Receivers, running backs, tight ends, our offensive line did a great job blocking.

"I just feel like a different player with my confidence level."

Dantonio said Tuesday that he thinks Cook got a confidence boost and that he is looking forward to the opportunity to play in South Bend.

"Connor Cook is a guy that moves forward," he said. "He's not going to back down from a challenge. He's pretty light in terms of how he approaches things. … I think that's good right now for his mindset as he goes into his first big away game – a marquee football game."

Cook said he was happy with the way wide receivers caught the ball and got yards after the catch as he completed 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards against the Penguins. He said he wants to see more of the same this week.

"I just wanna see our wideouts go out and have a game like they did against Youngstown State," he said. "I would throw a simple hitch and guys would turn that into 6. I would throw a simple drag and guys would catch and run for extra yards. I wanna see our wideouts come out and play and show what they are capable of doing."

Cook acknowledged that the coverage from the Notre Dame secondary will be the best they have seen so far.

"The coverage will be a little bit tighter and my throws will have to be better, but I know our guys are capable of making plays," he said.

Sophomore wide receiver Aaron Burbridge said the wide receivers also have confidence in their ability to make plays at a high level.

"We have confidence in ourselves that it's going work," he said. "We feel like we can hang with those guys. We should just go out and execute and make some big plays."

It certainly will be a test for the Spartans, but it is one welcomed by Cook, who said this is the next step in continuing to grow his confidence by playing in big games.

"As I continue to start multiple games and play in environments like Notre Dame … it's all about confidence and the more confidence you have, the better player you will be," he said.

As MSU looks to move to 4-0, Dantonio said it will be good for Cook's growth, but also a time to compete.

"This will be a great experience for him because he's going to have an environment to play in that's going to simulate what a lot of Big Ten environments are going to be like from this point on," Dantonio said. "That's going to be a period of growth for him – an exciting time.

"I want our guys to have fun down there. I want us to compete. Connor Cook is going to do that. No doubt in my mind he's going to do that."

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