For the first time in two weeks, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio saw a bunch of smiles and high-fives around the Spartans' football practice building on Sunday morning.
And it's obvious there's no secret as to why.
Michigan State starting quarterback Connor Cook and the Spartans' offense finally had their first taste of quality success in Iowa City against the Hawkeyes last Saturday, closing out the second half in a dominant fashion and winning by a score of 26-14.
The cheers and happy faces are just the first sign of a much-needed turnaround for the program after an extremely tough loss to Notre Dame last month. Dantonio told reporters that he's quite pleased to see his players elated after the victory.
“Confidence breeds success,” Dantonio said. “There’s no question in my mind that that’s the case.”
Though Cook threw the team's first interception of the season, his reaction to it and following plays afterward were what impressed coach Dantonio the most about his designated starter.
“He didn’t get rattled and he came back and he was resilient, and that’s been basically his trademark,” Dantonio said of his quarterback. “He’s been able to overcome, when there has been a problem he’s been able to go back in and play as if there hadn’t been one. I think that’s key. You’ve got to have a short memory sometimes.”
Cook responded by throwing for a total of 277-yards and two touchdowns; both career-highs for the QB.
Michigan State's stellar defense stayed strong throughout the second half to allow the MSU offense to run away with the game after the half. The Spartans still rank No. 1 in the country in total defense, rush defense, and passing efficiency.
While Cook was very effective in airing the ball out to his receivers, the Spartans' running game is still proving slow to start - something that Dantonio no doubt hopes to improve upon when the team plays Indiana at home this weekend.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.