”The thing that I can remember most was Randy Gregory on the defensive line just making play after play after play,” Cook said. “So that’s really the main thing that sticks in my head is just going up against a good player like that.”
Gregory, Nebraska’s standout defensive end, is the most athletic and versatile player on a defense that has been hurt by a couple injuries early this season.
Last season, the 6-6, 240-pound Gregory led Nebraska with 10.5 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hurries, accumulating four against Michigan State. He already has 4.5 sacks this season.
Cook is conscious of Gregory and knows he has to get the ball out quickly to have success against Nebraska.
”You gotta know where he’s at but I trust my offensive line no matter who we’re going up against,” he said. “I’m going to stick to my reads, I’m going to stick to myself, I’m going to trust them and know obviously I want to get rid of the ball quickly but I’m not going to try to rush anything just because of a certain player.”
Sophomore offensive tackle Jack Conklin gained a lot of experience and knowledge playing against Gregory last year. He said playing against defensive end Shilique Calhoun everyday in practice helps his confidence.
”It helps a ton, especially with confidence,” Conklin said. “We’re going against one of the best defensive ends every day so when you coming into a game going against a guy like Randy Gregory, I know I’ve been going against Shilique, my confidence is there, I know I can handle him.”
Conklin said he used the Nebraska game last year to learn he needed to lose weight in the offseason to compete with faster defensive ends like Gregory.
”That’s partially why I went about losing my weight I looked at the film and I was like, I’ve gotta do something to help me against these kinds of guys,” he said. “So that’s where I went into the off-season tried to get my feet faster, work on my sets more and things like that.”
True freshman offensive lineman Brian Allen said last year’s experience against Nebraska should help the team up front.
”Jack Conklin, Kodi Kieler, wherever (Gregory) lines up, he drops to a backer sometimes, you just gotta play a good game,” he said. “They know what’s coming, Jack played him last year and we’ve seen him, just be prepared. He ties his shoes just like us.”
Last year, Allen was a high school senior watching the game against Nebraska as he older brother, Jack, was starting on the offensive line. Now, he is out there competing alongside his brother and the rest of the Michigan State OL.
”At the Nebraska game last year I just kind of thought to myself as a fat 18-year old,” he said. “At that point, to think that I’m going to be playing Randy Gregory the next time we face Nebraska, I wasn’t thinking that last year.
”That’s pretty crazy just to think that a couple months ago I was playing video games with my buddies and doing stuff like that and now I’m playing big games like that with players like Gregory and (Oregon quarterback Marcus) Mariota.”