Michigan State QB Connor Cook talks Tattoos, Improvising and Competing with Terry & Oâ€™Connor
Q: How quickly did Coach Warner bring up after winning the game his promise to get a tattoo if you won the Rose Bowl? Was that on your mind at all or wait a little bit?
Connor Cook: Nah, it wasnâ€™t really on my mind. But a lot of guys pretty muchâ€¦a lot of the defensive guys, receivers, running backs all got Rose Bowl tats too. Even my roommate Jack got one right there. If you guys ask him heâ€™ll pull up his pants a little bit and show you his Rose Bowl tat. But nah, after we won the game I was just trying to look for my family, celebrate with my teammates. I think the next week or whatever when I saw Coach Warner, when we came back the next week, I was like â€˜Hey we need to get that tatâ€™. And then we talked about it for a little bit then but that was it.
Q: Is he the only coach that went and got one then?
COOK: That I know of. I donâ€™t know if Coach Bollman got a back tat or maybe a lower back tattoo. I donâ€™t know.
Q: They didnâ€™t know you had that improvising skills in you until the season went along. Is that something thatâ€™s always been there?
COOK: I think it just came along this year. And itâ€™s weird. When I think about it, itâ€™s just like I get caught up in things that go on in practice because itâ€™s not really a game and Iâ€™m not as focused, not as nervous as I am in a game. I think about it more in practice and Iâ€™m like â€˜Darn, you know whatâ€™. I should have done this or I should have done that. But when itâ€™s game time itâ€™s like Iâ€™m so caught up in the game and so caught up in thinking about winning the game. Itâ€™s weird. I donâ€™t know, itâ€™s hard to explain. If I have a bad pass or a bad interception in a game, I can just brush off because I feel like if I keep looking back and keep thinking about it, then Iâ€™m letting my teammates down. Because as a quarterback youâ€™re touching the ball every single play. And if youâ€™re constantly thinking about this play that just happened down the stretch and you keep thinking about it, thatâ€™s just only gonna let your teammates down because you canâ€™t constantly think about the negatives. If youâ€™re constantly thinking about the negatives youâ€™re gonna screw up again. I just brush things off, focus on the now, focus on the next play and just score touchdowns and win the game.
Q: What difference do you see in Coach Warner from this time last year to this year as offensive coordinator?
COOK: Heâ€™s just more comfortable. Last year he was just testing things out, first year being the coordinator after six years. But now heâ€™s just calling playsâ€¦he believes in us and he knows we can execute, that we know we can execute. Heâ€™s just really comfortable up there in the box.
Q: Was there a point last year where you sensed he had hit his stride?
COOK: Yeah, the Iowa game. I think he called a great game then, and I think from then on the game plan just kept getting better and better.
Q: How confident are you guys in him right now in terms of keep growing as an offense?
COOK: Very confident. The things that weâ€™ve solved this spring so far is pretty new that coach Warner did research on, that he picked up from other clinics, from other teams that weâ€™re doing now, you can just see the confidence that he has, not only in us, but himself to just draw up these plays and script these plays and good drives that lead to good situations.
Q: With your two back-ups having very limited experience, would you prefer to not play as much Saturday and give them chances to get some reps? Or do you just wanna play?
COOK: Iâ€™m a competitive guy. I wanna get out there and I wanna win. Iâ€™ve never really won a spring game, if you wanna say it that way. Because my first year I was quarterback on both teams so it was win-win. And then last year I lost to Maxwell. So I wanna get out there, I wanna compete. I know theyâ€™re really, really good quarterbacks too so theyâ€™re gonna push me. So obviously I wanna get out there and compete, have fun and obviously win.
Q: Both guys have talked about how much of a help youâ€™ve been. What is it that makes you know they want your job but still help them?
COOK: Itâ€™s just being a team player. Itâ€™s not just me being a teammate to them, itâ€™s me being a friend. Ever since Damionâ€™s been here Iâ€™ve taken him under my wing, Tylerâ€™s taken him under his wing. Iâ€™ve built relationships with both of them and our friendship that we have off the field is the same thing we have on the field. When they come off we talk about what we saw. When I come off we talk about what we saw. They give me input, I give them input. Weâ€™re always competing, weâ€™re always trying to be the best quarterback out there. Itâ€™s the relationship that we have off the field that comes onto the field and justâ€¦you see it.
Q: Is it more fun to compete with guys that youâ€™re genuinely friends with? It seems like it would be more fun competing with a brother than a rival.
COOK: Right. When there is a guy out there that youâ€™re really donâ€™t like that much it makes you wanna work harder, makes you wanna beat him even more. But then when you have friends like Tyler and Damion it makes everything funloving and fun. Tommy Vento too. Weâ€™re all out there trying to get better. So Iâ€™d say itâ€™s kinda equal. If you have a guy out there you really donâ€™t like, youâ€™re willing to do anything you possibly canâ€¦watching extra film, outworking them on the practice field. And then you have your guys like Damion and Tyler and Vento that they push you, you push them, and itâ€™s all fun.