Notebook: Iowa edition

Breaking down what stood out and what was impressive in MSU's 26-14 win, especially focusing on Connor Cook and his play.

against Iowa on Saturday.

**Where else would I start but with Connor Cook? Cook had easily his best game thus far. It wasn't just that he put up some good numbers, but it's how he did it. Cook showed good ability to pick up the blitz and deal with pressure. He did throw off his back foot a couple times, but one led to a touchdown and the other also was a good throw. He is making big strides.

**I think the biggest thing I learned about Cook in this game was how he responded to an interception. He came out and helped lead the team downfield for a field goal and put Iowa in position to need two touchdowns to get back in the game. That showed a lot.

**You have to like what you saw from Delton Williams. He is a power runner who bounces off tackles in amazing ways.

**A couple plays I think won't get the credit they are due: Tony Lippett's third-down catch in the first quarter. That set the tone early as a good play by the wide receivers. Also Bennie Fowler making a third-down catch and breaking a tackle to get the necessary yards. That drive ended with a touchdown. Also …

**Running back blocking and blitz pickup was fantastic. Jeremy Langford stepped in and took a lick from Iowa linebacker James Morris, but gave Cook the time to find MacGarrett Kings for the touchdown. Nick Hill also had a great corner blitz pick up as well. He caught it before the snap and moved over to block him. Those were great plays.

**Ron Burton's impact on the defensive line is easily noticeable. I think it starts with the defensive tackles. The leap Micajah Reynolds and Tyler Hoover have made is impressive. Reynolds does a great job getting into blocks and making things difficult, while Hoover seems to find a way to make plays regularly. You also have to be impressed with the play of Damon Knox and Mark Scarpinato. They have been pretty good in their first real action.

**It might not show up statistically, but I felt Marcus Rush had a really good game. He didn't get credited with many hurries, but it seemed like he was getting pressure from time to time.

**Is this the best offensive line play MSU has had under Dantonio? I would say yes and it's not even a question. Iowa and Notre Dame both have big, physical front sevens, but the MSU offensive line was strong in both games. I like Jack Conklin at left tackle more than Donavon Clark and I think he should be the guy there. The line seemed strongest with him out there and he just got better in this game.

**While the offense made a great showing, there was one thing that was glaring: No tight end catches. MSU did a good job against Youngstown State of getting Josiah Price and Jamal Lyles the ball, but since then there has been just one catch (Lyles at Notre Dame). I think if the offense wants to become really solid, tight ends need to get involved as it adds an extra dimension.

**Kurtis Drummond continues to impress me. He reads passes in the flat as well as anyone I can think of. He closes quickly and takes out the wide receiver.

**Initially, I thought Aaron Burbridge didn't play very well and might have lost time to Fowler/Lippett. On replay, he had a nice game but was overshadowed. His improvement also will be huge to the offense, but it's nice with others stepping up to take a little pressure off him.

**Thinking on play calling, MSU took some shots downfield. A lot more than they did last week. Iowa's secondary is young and not particularly great, and MSU went after it. Some completions, some almost completions. I like where they went with it and being aggressive.

**With R.J. Shelton at kick return and Kings at punt return, it appears MSU has found its explosiveness in special teams. Each almost broke a return against Iowa and showed the ability and flash MSU is looking for.

**Fowler's touchdown was one of my favorite play calls of the day. It took a fake option and used it as play action of sorts and Fowler was on a stick route – a difficult one to defend, if done right. The design and execution were outstanding.


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