With a 9-point lead and the ball deep in Michigan State territory Saturday, Connor Cook threw his first interception of the season.
He came back on the next drive and led MSU down the field on a field-goal drive and a 26-14 lead in the fourth quarter.
That’s just the way the sophomore quarterback played in Iowa City: Confidently.
“I just think I’m getting more comfortable as a quarterback,” Cook said. “It felt good to get out there, to play with more confidence. I felt like I was more confident. I just felt like the throws were there and our receivers were doing a really good job making plays.”
After Iowa linebacker James Morris picked Cook off at the MSU 33 and Iowa missed a field goal. Cook got the ball back in his hands. Twelve plays, 45 yards and almost six minutes later, Michael Geiger knocked in a 40-yard field goal and gave MSU a 12-point lead and left the Hawkeyes in need of two touchdown drives to get back in the game.
Cook said he was just loose playing in Iowa City after making his first road start two weeks ago at Notre Dame.
”I just came out with a little more loose mindset and more confidence,” he said. “I felt like the offensive line did a great job this week as they did last week. They might have protected me better this week than they did last week and they did a great job against Notre Dame.”
Coach Mark Dantonio credited the work quarterbacks coach Brad Salem did with Cook during the bye week.
He also said Cook, who was 25 of 44 passing for 277 yards and two touchdowns, took steps in the win.
”A young quarterback is always going to have a bigger learning curve and always going to take bigger steps than a guy who has been there and done that for a longer period of time,” Dantonio said. “I think he is feeling much more at ease with himself and also, when you have success, that just breeds confidence and I think that’s what he’s done. I thought he had a great game.”