Spartans stick with Cook despite off game

Sophomore quarterback struggles against Purdue after two solid performances to open the Big Ten season.

Seeing multiple quarterbacks on the field at Spartan Stadium isn't uncommon for Michigan State fans in 2013.

The Spartans spent the first two of the season rotating quarterbacks and looking to find its best option before settling on sophomore Connor Cook.

When Cook struggled against Purdue on Saturday, though, the Spartans almost put in redshirt freshman Tyler O'Connor.

"There was a little bit of thought. I'll be honest," coach Mark Dantonio said. "As you move forward, you have to win the football game. I wanted to stay with Connor Cook. … He played well that last series when we kept him in. Took us down the field and scored, which was big."

Cook was 3 of 4 for 69 yards on the Spartans' lone touchdown drive of their 14-10 win. He was 13 of 25 passing for 107 yards in the game.

Cook said he saw O'Connor warming up on the sideline during the fourth quarter and appreciated the coaches sticking with him.

"I saw him warming up and stuff, but it just means the coaches believe in me and they continue to think I'm the guy and have faith in me so it reassures me," he said.

Dantonio said sticking with Cook was important to show him that there is confidence in him, but also that it shows they will be willing to make a move if they need to.

"This is a team game," he said. "It's a team game. You have to understand that as a player and as a coach, but at the same time you want to stay positive and not force the issue and try and remain confident in the guy who's leading your football team. … He's our quarterback and right now, he's 3-1. He will continue to get better.

"It's always good when a guy can step back, regroup and move forward. You have lessons of life, I'm sure quarterback is probably the biggest position where you can step back and evaluate your performance and move it forward as a player."

Offensive coordinator Dave Warner said he didn't see anything that caused Cook to have an off day.

"In the quarterback position you try and get into a rhythm get some confidence and get some early completion," he said. "Maybe I could have called some better plays early on to put him in that rhythm. So I guess it wasn't something during the game that happened, it maybe just wasn't his best day. I think his timing was okay. It was more of sitting in the pocket and being accurate with his throw."

Cook said footwork is something he continues to work on and was not good with Saturday.

"It all goes back to footwork," he said. "I think my feet really weren't underneath me this game. I gotta step up, step toward my target and I really wasn't doing that today. It's all correctable stuff and I can go back and correct it just like I have before earlier in the season."


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