Notre Dame to be 'great experience' for Cook
Game of the Century. Little Giants. The flag plant.
Dating back to their first game in 1897, the MSU-Notre Dame rivalry is one of college football’s oldest rivalries and holds significant cultural importance to both programs while generating some of the sport’s most lively atmospheres.
For head coach Mark Dantonio, there’s no better environment to test the confidence of sophomore quarterback Connor Cook.
“This will be a great experience for (Cook) because he’s going to have an environment to play in that’s going to simulate really what a lot of Big Ten environments are going to be from this point on,” Dantonio said.
“That’s going to be a period of growth for him; an exciting time.”
After throwing for 202 yards and four touchdowns against Youngstown State on Saturday, Cook officially was handed MSU’s starting quarterback job and is expected to hold down the position moving forward.
However, Notre Dame is certain to be a much tougher opponent than its FCS opponent from Saturday.
Led by senior quarterback Tommy Rees, the Fighting Irish’s offense currently is ranked No. 50 in the country, ahead of teams such as Michigan, Florida and Alabama. A week ago, Notre Dame scored 21 points in a span of 3:29 in the fourth quarter to earn a comeback road victory against Purdue.
And even without the departed linebacker Manti Te’o, who has yet to catfish his way into playing time for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers, Notre Dame comes in with the nation’s 56th-ranked defense, MSU’s biggest test to date.
But after seeing the poise of his young quarterback in practice and game situations, Dantonio said he’s not worried about Cook’s ability to adapt in his first career road start.
“Connor Cook is always a guy that moves forward,” Dantonio said. “He’s not going to back down from a challenge. He’s pretty light in terms of how he approaches things. Going to do the best he can, have fun with it.
“That’s good right now for his mind-set as he goes into his first big away game.”
Seldom-used junior wide receiver DeAnthony Arnett is a likely candidate to redshirt this season, Dantonio said on Tuesday.
After catching one pass for seven yards in the season opener against Western Michigan, Arnett did not play in the wins against South Florida and Youngstown State.
If it’s determined Arnett suffered an injury to keep him out of action, Dantonio can use a medical redshirt and give Arnett two more years to play starting in 2014.
“That’s something we deal with, didn’t want to play him in a game where there was a blowout because of the potential to do that,” Dantonio said. “We took the redshirt off of R.J. Shelton, he gives us a different dynamic in there a little bit. So you can’t play them all.”
After playing 12 games as a freshman at Tennessee, Arnett transferred to MSU prior to the 2012 season and was deemed eligible after being granted a residence waiver to be close to his father, who battles with heart and kidney problems.
Arnett made three catches for a total of 69 yards in his first season with the Spartans, gaining the majority on a 48-yard reception against Central Michigan.