December 30, 2012

Cook pounces on bowl game opportunity

TEMPE, Ariz. - With neither quarterback having success with their arms against a tough TCU pass defense, Mark Dantonio went with Connor Cook's legs in the final minutes.

It turned out that Cook's arm, and calm nerves, served the quarterback position well for the Spartans in the go-ahead drive, and now those attributes serve to muddle Michigan State's quarterback job for 2013.

Head coach Mark Dantonio was quick to state that there had been no coup at the quarterback position, after the game.

"I don't want to slight anybody, say this guy is the new quarterback," Dantonio said of Cook. "There's a lot of colleges across the country that play two quarterbacks or play guys situationally. We just felt like we wanted to play a redshirt freshman and get him some reps in a bowl game. He had enough time to prepare and we wanted to see what he could do. He did well so we used him the second half, too."

Neither Cook nor Maxwell came out of Michigan State's 17-16 victory over TCU in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl with blazing numbers on the night. Maxwell, who started all 13 MSU games this year with mixed results, was 6-of-15 for 28 yards against one of the better pass defenses in the country. TCU ranked No. 3 in the nation in interceptions in 2012 with 21, and was on MSU's routes with pass break-ups and near interceptions all night.

Cook wasn't much better, statistically, at 4-of-11 for 47 yards. But the redshirt freshman from Hinckley, Ohio, via Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, looked like a gamer in this, the first pressure situation of his career.

"I had a good feeling that Coach D had faith in me, that he was going to pick me to lead the team down in a situation like that, in a bowl game," Cook said. "I responded and I was ready to go.

"I was sitting there, ready with my helmet in my hand and if they called my number, I was ready. I was out there looking, to see if I could help Andrew with anything that he saw."

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