Michigan State Football: What worked and didn’t work against Western

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Sep 4, 2015; Kalamazoo, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio talks to quarterback Connor Cook (18) during the 2nd half of a game at Waldo Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

By most accounts, Michigan State football underwhelmed in its opening game against Western Michigan. And while that overall evaluation is fair, let’s take a closer look at what went down in a game that was never really in doubt. There were things to celebrate and things to worry over at each position.


This was all Connor Cook save for one snap taken by Damion Terry in wildcat look. For all the hand-wringing over the defense and the passing yards given up, the offense was not superb either. A lot of the shortcomings fall on Connor Cook. Still the MSU offense scored 37 points and Cook threw two touchdowns and Macgarrett Kings dropped another.

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What went well: Third down

Cook did quite well converting third down plays going 8-for-13 with all eight completions resulting in a first down.

Cook started 8-10 on third downs, but threw three incompletions on his last three attempts. Overall the Spartans were 10-of-15 on third down with the other two first downs coming via a pass interference penalty and a third down rush by L.J. Scott to seal the game.

What didn’t: Accuracy

Overall Cook went 15-for-31 for a completion percentage of 48. Cook as stated that he wants his completion rate to be well above 60 this year. A 48 percent completion rate will not cut it against Oregon and Ohio State.

With the defense struggling with big plays, MSU needs to be able counter that with big plays from its signal caller. All night long Cook’s passes sailed high — even his completions were often a bit high. As Cook becomes more comfortable with his offensive line, he may feel better about stepping into his throws which should result in a more accurate ball.

Next: Running backs