October 5, 2011

Dantonio on Cousins: 'I'm not concerned at all'

EAST LANSING - Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins led the Spartans to the program's first win at Ohio State since 1998 last weekend and the three-year starter is two victories away from tying Jeff Smoker for all-time victories by a Spartan quarterback.

But heading into the bye week, there is a perception that Cousins is not playing well enough to guide the Spartans to a second consecutive Big Ten championship.

That perception is inaccurate, according to fifth-year head coach Mark Dantonio.

"I'm not concerned about Kirk at all in the effect of how he's playing the football game," Dantonio said. "I think he's got -- if you were on that field on Saturday and saw some of the throws from the sideline, he was -- I mean, he had great velocity on the ball, he was putting it right on the money. So I'm not concerned at all in that area."

Cousins has completed 100-of-149 passes for 1,197 yards and six touchdowns with four picks. He is coming off a game in which in threw a pair of picks against Ohio State, which has the No. 12 overall defense in college football heading into Week 6 of the college football season.

"What I would be concerned about is just people's mindset as you move forward, pressures that people are under playing in front of 105,000 people, national TV, all these things that a quarterback comes under. We have to be able to deflate as people," Dantonio said. "And he does so much in the community. There are very high expectations that he places on himself, and I think people have very high expectations of him, whether you're a head coach, assistant coach, coordinator, fan, whatever, and that can wear on a person sometimes, and I want him to have fun."

Statistics do not tell the complete story with Cousins, who is one of the best game managers in college football.

"Hopefully that's the only thing that I see that needs to be corrected," Dantonio said. "He does a great job managing our football team. You're taking the ball from center every single play. That's every single play the quarterback has to make a decision; do I run this play; do I run that play; do I stay with the play called; do I change the protection; what blitz, what coverage am I looking at; where do I throw the ball relative to this coverage as opposed to that coverage; do I have to throw hot, where my hot receiver is; if they bring pressure we can't pick it up because the numbers are such that a back may free release or these different type of things. What are my steps in terms of handing off the football; do I hand my hands up under the center; how am I taking a shotgun snap.

"There are so many things that a quarterback has to handle and has to deal with on a play in and play out situation throughout an entire football game, and let's face it, sometimes there's going to be mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. But the mistakes that a quarterback makes, when there is a mistake, I think they get magnified because he is so paramount to the success of every single program, he is so essential in every single play.

"So those mistakes get magnified, much like the mistakes a head football coach may make gets magnified. All in all, he's doing an outstanding job, won 11 football games last year. He also was a factor the year before in 2009 in terms of just a very steady factor, in terms of a very difficult season in 2009, and then this year we're 4 and 1, and our football is in front of us. I feel good about how he's playing. I think that naturally the quarterback I think sometimes gets a lot of praise. Sometimes maybe that's not all warranted; receiver makes a great catch, whatever. But I also think the reverse is true; sometimes the quarterback gets an awful lot of criticism. That's what I think. That was the long version."

Dantonio believes is important for his entire team to stay loose, not just Cousins. That is one of the reasons why he had his coaches and players watch the Adam Sandler movie The Waterboy the night before his team's game with Ohio State.

The fifth-year Spartan head coach joked on Wednesday that sophomore linebacker Denicos Allen acrobatic sack of Buckeye quarterback Joe Bauserman was appropriate given the movie his team had watched the night before.

Dantonio even quoted a line from the movie during halftime when he told his team to "visualize and attack."

Click through for footage of Dantonio discussing his team's win at Ohio State, the play of his senior quarterback, and Allen's acrobatic sack.

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