November 2, 2011

Developmental Update: Maxwell, Cook looking good

EAST LANSING - Michigan State's reserve quarterbacks have not been on the field in recent weeks but behind the scenes, Spartan quarterbacks coach Dave Warner said the back-ups are coming along nicely.

Third-stringer Connor Cook is redshirting this season, and spending the year serving as the primary quarterback for the scout team.

Cook (6-4, 200, Hinckley, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit High) is giving the the first- and second-team Spartan defenses a good, big-bodied signal caller to pursue this week - and tackle.

"He is getting beat around down there, going against our defense, which is sort of his rite of passage," Warner said. "I think he is going to be a big kid."

This week in practice, Cook is portraying Marqueis Gray, Minnesota's 6-foot-4, 240-pound quarterback.

"Connor Cook, who is the regular scout team quarterback, is a big kid," said Michigan State linebackers coach Mike Tressel. "He's a big, tall kid and he is pretty athletic, so we will use him. And we will use the other guys that we use that are quick, fast, jitterbug guys to get our defense prepared too."

Whether portraying an opposing team's quarterback or working on his own mechanics, Cook has shown promise this fall.

"We are very happy with how he throws the football, as far as delivery and release, arm strength. I think he has all that, now it's just a matter of him continuing to learn the offense and being able to execute what we need done."

"Connor is doing good," Warner said. "We have high expectations for him."

Second-stringer Andrew Maxwell has seen action in three games, but none since the Sept. 24 victory over Central Michigan.

"We'd love to get him out there on the field and keep him growing, but he understands the situation and keeps working his tail off," Warner said.

Maxwell (6-3, 208, Soph. Midland) has completed 14 of 19 passes this year for 149 yards with 1 touchdown.

Maxwell was a four-star recruit, Rivals250 prospect and Elite 11 quarterback coming out of Midland High School in 2009

"I'm not sure I've been around a quarterback who is as patient as he is and is as understanding as he is, but at the same time he's ready," Warner said. "He goes into every game and studies as much film as Kirk does. He understands the game plan and what we're going against as well as Kirk does. Hopefully it's not a situation that we have to put him in there but we would like to get him experience.

"He's patient in that he understands that Kirk is the guy, and he knows his time is going to come. But at the same time he knows that if he is called on he has to be ready."

Warner met with media on Wednesday afternoon as part of Michigan State's weekly rotation of positional coach press briefing.

Live Bullets from the remainder of Warner's press briefing:

  • Warner continued the company line from Spartan coaches this week, giving Nebraska credit for playing good defense during last week's 24-3 loss, while also speaking for the coaching staff in accepting part of the blame.

    "Obviously, as a general offense, we didn't feel like we played very well," Warner said. "It wasn't one of Kirk's best games but his opportunities were somewhat limited. I think everybody saw that it was covered up pretty good.

    "They did a pretty good job from their end or we didn't do a good job offensively, didn't do our job as coaches and therefore we struggled offensively. I think it was us not doing a good enough job of game planning and them doing a good job of covering."

  • Warner said Kirk Cousins continues to improve his mechanics, including his footwork.

    "As our offensive line grows, he grows and feels more comfortable sitting back there," Warner said.

  • Michigan State has scored just 3, 10 and 13 points in its three road games this year. Warner resisted over-analyzing that trend on Wednesday.

    "I think it's just coincidence," he said. "Ran into some good teams, maybe. We know that's a situation and come next week we'll address it and go from there. Hopefully we execute what we need to get done this week and then we will look at what we need to do when we have to travel to Iowa."

  • On moving on:

    "Coach Dantonio makes guys understand: 'Hey, let's correct our mistakes, let's get better, let's understand why it happened, what we need to do from here on forward, and move on.' I think Kirk is ready to do that, I think our team is ready to do that."

  • Kirk Cousins was 11-for-27 at Nebraska for 86 yards. Cousins had a pair of positive scrambles for 8 and 13 yards against the Huskers.

    Warner is not against Cousins tucking and running if the situation dictates.

    "That's not his go-to thing but he understands that when teams are covering like that, there is going to be a lot of space underneath," Warner said. "He has had some games throughout his career when he has locked it away and run with it and that's something that we talk about."

  • On Cousins' overall performance last Saturday in relation to the team's offensive struggles:

    "I think it is more of a team thing, more of an offensive thing that we need to do better this week than we did last week. Certainly Kirk played okay. There are plays that he would like to have back, just like there are plays that we would like to have back as a coaching staff and plays that everybody would like to have back. But as long as he continues to stay locked into what we are trying to do offensively, which he has been all along, and just executes our game plan, I think he is going to be fine. "

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