Cook runs over defender, sets the tone

Michigan State's quarterback bowled over a Michigan safety early in Saturday's 35-11 win, which set the tone for a physical game for the Spartans and got his teammates fired up.

Leading up to Michigan State’s game at Purdue, coach Mark Dantonio told quarterback Connor Cook the plan was to run him more than usual.

Dantonio also added another bit to that message, saying there is nothing that gets a team more excited than a quarterback running somebody over.

”He was like I don’t think anything other than a quarterback lowering his shoulder and running over a guy gets a team more hyped,” Cook said.

Cook did just that as he bowled over Michigan safety Delano Hill on the first drive of Michigan State’s 35-11 win against Michigan on Saturday.

”I had that in the back of my mind and being a quarterback, especially with me for my running ability, people don’t expect to see that,” he said. “I think it got the sideline and the crowd into it. It just gave us a little bit more momentum.”

The play came on a second-and-6 play from the Michigan 17. Cook faked a jet sweep to wide receiver R.J. Shelton and took off with room to run. He lowered his left shoulder into Hill around the 7-yard line before going down at the 4. He got up fired up and with words for Hill, who was then flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty for pushing Cook, who started clapping and pumping up the sideline.

”When he does something like that, it is going to bring a lot of adrenaline and enthusiasm to our football team,” Dantonio said. “It was a power run and he got his foot down and got vertical.”

Sophomore offensive tackle Jack Conklin said he was not expecting Cook to lower his shoulder and bowl over Hill.

“To see a quarterback run out there and throw a shoulder down and not slide, it’s huge,” he said. “It gets you fired up.

”That was a great way to start the game.”

Cook said he could not remember the last time he ran anyone over, joking it probably was when he was in fifth grade. Offensive coordinator Dave Warner said the Spartans want Cook to be a threat on the ground and that it makes MSU a better offense if he can be a threat.

”We want our quarterback to run with authority and I think there are times when you get into the secondary as long as you are leading with the left shoulder,” Warner said. “We want him to be a threat. I think over the last couple of weeks we've sort of established him to be a little bit more of a threat.”

Cook finished 12 of 22 passing for 227 yards with a 70-yard touchdown pass to Tony Lippett, but it was the 13-yard run early in the game that got the Spartans rolling.

”He really set the tone,” safety Kurtis Drummond said. “Seeing Connor go out there and lower his shoulder like that got everyone excited. Just knowing Connor and the type of person he is; he brings energy to the whole team.

”When we see him make a big play like that it really sets the tone for the physical game we're trying to play.”

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