Bloomington, Ind. — Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will never be described as a game manager.
Waiting on others to create while he just orchestrates the offense simply isn't in his character. The Michigan State junior is the classic gunslinger and when a quarterback approaches the game like that, he'd better have a short memory.
Cook is proving to be just that type of player, putting bad plays behind him quickly and not letting them affect his confidence. It happened again on Saturday in No. 8 Michigan State's 56-17 victory over Indiana, and it was likely the turning point of the game.
In the second quarter, with the Hoosiers riding a small wave of momentum, Cook threw a pass intended for Tony Lippett right into the hands of Indiana linebacker Tegray Scales near the Spartans' 25-yard line. Two plays later, Indiana quarterback Zander Diamont scored on a 9-yard run and gave the Hoosiers a 17-14 lead.
"They disrupted our wide receivers on that route, and I thought he forced it a little bit," Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said. "But he comes back and makes a number of great throws, and we have some great catches, so I thought he did a nice job creating in the pocket when he didn't have anything to go to."
Instead of sulking, Cook came back firing.
The Spartans' head coach talks about the 56-17 triumph.
On the next drive he and the Spartans were facing second-and-10 from their 25 when Cook feathered a ball into tight end Josiah Price, just over the outstretched hands of an Indiana defender. Price raced 67 yards and on the next play, Jeremy Langford scored on an 8-yard run.
"He's one of a kind," wide receiver Aaron Burbridge said. "He'll make a mistake and just forget about it. Like, 'That's in the past, we got to come back out here, execute and score.' "
Cook finished the day with his second-best passing game of the season, completing 24 of 32 passes for 332 yards and three touchdowns.
And while some think Cook is taking chances, he's going to receivers he has complete faith in. Whether it's Burbrigde making a grab between two defenders or Lippett's over-the-shoulder grab after Cook kept the play alive with his feet, he truly believes there are plays to be made.
And worrying about the last series does no good.
"I don't know, it's weird," Cook said about his ability to move on. "When you're out there and it happens you just put it aside. I feel like as a quarterback if you focused on the negative or keep looking back and saying, 'Oh man, I should have made that grow or I should have went here or there,' you're doing your team a dishonor and yourself a dishonor. You have to play with a short memory, no matter how it happened in the past.
"Especially after me throwing (an interception) in our own territory and Indiana gets the ball and they score. That's a trait you need to have and really, you have to be just as mentally strong as possible no matter the situation. That's the main thing I try to do when I step on the football field. You want to be physically strong, but mental toughness overrides physical toughness, so that's what I try to do."