It will certainly not be the biggest test he'll face this year, but when Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook took on Youngstown State last Saturday, he looked like the poised and confident QB that head coach Mark Dantonio has been looking for.
On Sunday night, Dantonio spoke about his last-minute choice to nix his previously-announced plans to play true redshirt freshman quarterback Damion Terry, and instead opt for the steady start of Cook.
“We made the difficult catch. We threw the ball with confidence,” Dantonio said of Cook and the offense. “We had explosive plays. I don’t care who you’re playing against, the fact we had explosive plays gives an indication we grew up a little bit, caught fire a little bit, provided a spark that will hopefully ignite our offense.”
With his Spartans set to take on elite rival Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana next weekend, Dantonio was short on statements for his expectations.
"We're going to line up next Saturday against Notre Dame, we'll find out who's who,'' the coach replied. "How's that for a statement?''
MSU defensive end Shilique Calhoun had another explosive game with a sack and a fumble recovery, but alas, he scored no touchdowns for the first game this season. Still, Calhoun was just happy to see the players on the offensive side of the ball beaming with pride for once during a victory.
“It was great, man, I mean the smiles on the offensive guys’ faces — everyone’s face,” Calhoun said. “We were all smiling, happy that we were moving forward.”
With the win, the Spartans find themselves ranked within the USA Today poll for the first-time this season at No. 24.
Deciding to not play Terry might have been the wise move in the short term, but once Michigan State has to face some of their more-difficult foes, such as away at Notre Dame this coming Saturday, it will become evident whether making Cook the permanent starting QB will pay off in the long term.
You can follow MSU writer, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.