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MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY MEDIA CONFERENCE


December 3, 2013


Connor Cook


Q.  Can you talk about when you first knew that the coaching staff was beginning to trust you and those first moments after the Notre Dame game and then the weeks that followed after that?
CONNOR COOK:  Yeah.  I know that the first time they said that they trusted me was going into the Iowa State game.  They said to me, you're the guy.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes.  We're not going to pull you, and that just fulfilled confidence within me and then knowing that the coaches believed in me made me feel even better.  And then the Notre Dame game rolled around and coach made that decision.
Can't really talk about that, that's in the past, but ever since then I feel like I've done a much better job of being a leader, commanding the offense, and just making better decisions and stuff like that, and now we're here.

Q.  Connor, you mentioned it yesterday, but being a guy from Ohio and so many guys from this team on Ohio, is there a little extra special meaning to this game?
CONNOR COOK:  Yeah, for sure, being an Ohio native, having all my friends that go to Ohio State, kids I went to school with that go to Ohio State, obviously the game is already big, big enough, but having those extra people, those ties with people who are connected to the university, it does make the game a lot bigger.

Q.  A lot of noise around this game, national title implications, all that.  The fact that you guys might go to the Rose Bowl win or lose, do you hear all that?  Can you listen to it?  Does it change your perception at all that the Rose Bowl could be there either way, win or lose?
CONNOR COOK:  You know, I've heard stuff about that, but really our main goal is just to win.  Obviously if we win, everything will take care of itself.  I really don't even want to picture us, if we lose what would happen.  Our main goal is obviously win and everything will take care of itself.  Really us as a team, players, coaches, everyone, we're not really even like looking at it as if, if we were to lose.  We're confident in us, confident in the coaches, confident in myself and the whole team.  We believe we can win, and that's the mindset we're going to have going into the game.

Q.  A couple years ago Coach Warner remarked that he'd never seen a quarterback prepare for a game like Maxwell prepared for that championship game.  Do you remember being in the room, seeing anything different about him that week?  Did you take anything from that, and is your week any different than a normal game week now?
CONNOR COOK:  Yeah, I walked with Coach Warner earlier this week and he mentioned heading into this game Kurt just had blinders on, was so prepared.  Watched a lot more film than he normally would, and that's the same thing I'm going to have.  I'm going to put the blinders on, I'm going to get in and watch so much more film than I have.  I've already been watching a lot throughout the season, but this is the most important week of our entire lives.  Definitely it's the most important week for my life since I've been alive, stuff you dream about, the implications that are riding on this game.  So you can't come away from this game with regrets or anything, so I'm going into this game with no regrets, prepared my butt off, getting the film, watching the film of Ohio State, and just going over our game plan.

Q.  (No microphone.)
CONNOR COOK:¬† You probably do look for different things that you wouldn't really look for if you were playing your first Big 10 game of the season.¬† Obviously you're watching film and breaking it down, looking at Ohio State's defense but maybe analyzing players more, looking at cut‑ups of different players.¬† So yeah.

Q.  You talked a little bit about what each team does from a schematic standpoint.  Has Ohio State been pretty true to form throughout the year and what do you expect to see from them on defense?
CONNOR COOK:  We expect to see a lot of movement up front in their defensive linemen, their linebackers, and then they run a lot of cover three and cover six, middle field closed.  So they have a variety of different coverages.  They have a variety of different fronts.  They're going to mix it up and they're going to heat you up with a lot of blitzes.
I mean, they're just a very, very athletic group.  They're well coached, and they play well together.

Q.  I know the goal is to win the game and all that, but when people analyze this game they talk about Ohio State's offense and Braxton Miller and Michigan State's defense, and it's like you and the offense are an afterthought.  Do you think what you've done offensively here in the last several weeks deserves a little more respect than that?
CONNOR COOK:  Yes.  I think you look at the stats and we've beaten every single Big 10 opponent by double digits.  That's not just our defense, it's our offense putting up points, too.  The offense has won games, Big 10 games this season.  When we went to Nebraska we played really, really well as an offense, went to Iowa and played really, really well, and Illinois.  We have an offense here at Michigan State, not just a defense.  When we hear stuff like that, we take offense to it and we're going to have that extra motivation throughout the weekend, and it's going to make us play a lot more harder on Saturday.

Q.  Dantonio was saying that you have three goals for the year.  Is that something you talk about in August and put aside or does it come up on almost a daily basis?
CONNOR COOK:¬† It's stuff you talk about all year.¬† Obviously the main goal is to make it to this game, win it and then go to a bowl game, but you've got to take it one step at a time, not look past anything.¬† We've done a great job this whole season of not looking past anything, taking it one game at a time, trying to go 1‑0 every single week.¬† When you get to a point like this obviously you're closer to those goals, but still, we've just got to take it one step at a time.

Q.¬† You guys lost five Big 10 games last year by a combined 13 points.¬† Some of the writers are calling it the Revenge Tour.¬† You've beaten four of those teams.¬† Ohio State happens to be the last one on the list.¬† Is that something you're cognizant of and how much does that one‑point loss here last year motivate you guys?
CONNOR COOK:  Yeah, we feel like last year was definitely a game that got away from us, slipped away.  It was in our grasp at the end and feel like it was a game that we definitely should have won.  We're obviously looking at last year's film, watching it.  It's hard to watch for how well we played and stuff like that, and we feel like it's the same group of guys we're going up against and it's pretty much the same group of guys that we had last year.  So it's going to be a similar rematch, and we feel like we played well enough to win, like our offense come a long way since then.  I feel like our defense has come a long way since then, too, but we are cognizant of playing Ohio State and that they're the last one on the list.  But just going to treat it one game at a time, just like any other game, it's just another opponent, and I think if we do that, all our guys will be ready.

Q.  You've talked before about Ohio State didn't recruit you, and there's other maybe not as highly recruited players on this team.  Does that give this team an edge, call it a chip or whatever you want to call it that it plays with, do you see that in you and your teammates?
CONNOR COOK:  Yeah, definitely.  I mean, growing up in Ohio everyone wants to go to Ohio State, everyone has dreams and aspirations of going to that school, and if they don't recruit you, guys have that extra motivation when they play against them just like Central Michigan and Michigan State.  When we play Central Michigan we say all the guys are going to play extra hard, they're going to bring their "A" game, they're going to work super hard.  The game is going to be a little bit more physical just because they're a little upset maybe that they didn't get recruited by Michigan State.
Same thing playing Ohio State.  We have a lot of guys from Ohio on our football team that maybe if Ohio State did recruit them or Ohio State did offer them they would have gone there.  We do feel like guys like Travis Jackson, guys like Denicos, when we play a team like that from our home state, teams that we liked growing up and they didn't recruit us, we're definitely going to play with an extra edge.

Q.¬† With the way the season started and not being the week one starter in the Notre Dame situation, all that, now being named second team all‑Big 10, what does that mean to you, and is that kind of a representation of this whole offense starting with a lot of question marks and unknowns and whatnot and sort of developing into something that's getting recognition and respect?
CONNOR COOK:¬† Yeah, first of all, I owe it all to my teammates, definitely my offensive line for protecting me the whole season, doing an exceptional job of just keeping me protected and making me go through my read progression, reading the defense downfield, and especially my receivers coming up big this year, making plays when I needed to be, and then J‑Lang running hard.¬† I owe it to my teammates and the coaches for voting, too.
But it just shows with hard work you can accomplish a lot of things.  I think ever since I came here I've just been a super hard worker, always working for something.
Day in and day out, whatever it is, if I find something to work at, I'm going to work.  If I have something in front of me, I'm going to do whatever I possibly can to accomplish it.
I'm just proud of our team, proud of our team for how far we've come as an offensive unit, especially from the beginning of the season.¬† I think we didn't have a first touchdown pass until the third week of the season, which is pretty rare, and you look at us now, we have an 11‑win season under our belt, and we're not done yet.
Really just proud of our offense.

Q.  You've said that this is just another game you want to look at it as your next step, but you also said that this is the biggest week of your life.  How do you balance those two facts?  Are you trying to strike a medium there?
CONNOR COOK:¬† Really you just can't make it out to be a bigger game than what it actually is.¬† I talked to my dad earlier, and everyone knows the implications riding on the game, everyone knows how big the game is, but you have to treat it just like any other game because if you treat it like‑‑ if it is, if you treat it like it is the biggest game of your life, the biggest game you've ever played in, you could get caught up in it.¬† You could get caught up in your emotions and stuff like that.¬† You just kind of have to maybe take a step back and just be relaxed, take a deep breath and not just look at it as‑‑ obviously it is a huge game, we all know that, but in my mind maybe go in a with a different mindset of just treat it like every other game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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