Cook continues growth, resiliency

Sophomore quarterback makes big throws late against Nebraska to key Spartans victory.

The offensive struggles of the early season that carried over from 2012 seem miles away for Michigan State at this point.

And one thing has become more evident: As Connor Cook grows, the offense grows.

"That whole offense, Connor included, this whole year they have just gotten better and better and better," senior linebacker Max Bullough said. "I don't know if there's many guys out there or many teams that can take the stuff they took at the beginning of the year and last year, saying they couldn't do anything. …

"They deserve all the success they've had. Connor deserves all the success he's had."

The sophomore has been steady since taking over the starting spot in the third game of the season, but coach Mark Dantonio has a word he often uses to describe Cook: Resilient.

"I think he has done an outstanding job throughout the season," Dantonio said. "Things are not going to be perfect out there, and there are going to be sometimes where he steps back, but I continue to talk about his resiliency.

"He has that ability to put it past him and move forward."

Cook, who finished 15 of 31 for 193 yards and a touchdown, was presented with a chance to show his ability to bounce back early after overthrowing an open Tony Lippett in the end zone on MSU's first possession and missing on his first four pass attempts.

He said there was no sideline conversation that set him straight, but just getting his mind right in a big road environment.

"I had the jitters he first couple series and I think they went away," Cook said. "As soon as the jitters went away, I think I was pretty good. You can't dwell on the past. You can't dwell on the play where I overthrew Tony Lippett in the back of the end zone where he was wide open.

"I would have liked to have that, but you just have to move on."

Cook did just that and finished strong late in the game, which he said has been the strength of the Spartans offense recently.

"It just shows you that late in the game, we're not going to give in," he said. "I think we get stronger as the game goes on. I think we've shown that the past two weeks. … Anytime that you can finish a game like we did this week and like we did last week, it gives you confidence."

The key play late for the Spartans came on a 27-yard touchdown pass from Cook to Keith Mumphery, giving MSU a 34-21 lead in the fourth quarter.

It was Cook's seventh third-down touchdown pass this season – compared to zero interceptions. Lippett said that is just part of the poise that Cook plays with lately.

"Connor was really poised and he kept pushing and pushing no matter what and made plays," he said. "He had a great throw to Keith in the fourth quarter. That was a great play.

"He was just poised, relaxed and patient. He just let the game come to him and didn't really go so much out of himself."

And that's all the Spartans need. Steady play and steady growth.

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