Spartans hitting stride with new offense
When the MSU football team made a change at offensive coordinator in the offseason, it was unclear the direction the program’s offense was headed.
After taking over the position in 2011, embattled offensive coordinator Dan Roushar left the Spartan staff in February for a position with the NFL’s New Orleans Saints. Roushar was replaced by former MSU quarterbacks coach Dave Warner and former Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, who currently serve as co-offensive coordinators under head coach Mark Dantonio.
Through the first part of the season, the team was nowhere close to polished, juggling four quarterbacks, dealing with dropped passes from the receiving corps and being generally ineffective running the football.
However, after a 26-13 victory road against Iowa, which saw a career passing day from sophomore quarterback Connor Cook and the team’s first play longer than 40 yards courtesy of a touchdown by freshman wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr., it appears the offense finally is hitting its stride.
Standing out as one of the team’s offensive weapons, Kings said the change at offensive coordinator has propelled the team forward, making it fun to step on the field on Saturdays.
“It’s definitely mixed up a little more,” said Kings, who has scored a touchdown in three consecutive games. “You know, we had Le’Veon Bell last year so of course I don’t mind running the ball and blocking for him. But I mean, (now) it’s pass, it’s run, it’s play-action pass so it’s a mix-up and I like the way they call plays.”
The Spartans currently are ranked 11th in the Big Ten in scoring offense, averaging 28.2 points per game, which drops to 21.5 if factoring out the 55-17 thrashing of FCS opponent Youngstown State. A season ago, the Spartans managed 20 points per game, which only was better than Iowa and Illinois in the conference.
But unlike 2012’s team, they found a strong option at quarterback in Cook.
Although Cook averages the ninth-most passing yards per game in the Big Ten, he’s thrown for at least 200 yards in two of the past three games, tossing seven touchdowns with only one interception.
On Tuesday, Dantonio said Cook played well against Iowa, reaffirming the confidence the staff and players have in him.
“We’re asking our quarterback to create, I think he created,” Dantonio said. “I thought he threw the ball very effectively. The ball was caught effectively down the field. He had a couple runs.
“With that in mind, I think we’ll just go with that direction here … I was impressed with the way he played last week.”
After Saturday’s win against the Hawkeyes, Cook said the game plan for the team’s offense is abundantly clear – score points and let the defense do its job.
“We go into every single football game knowing if we score three touchdowns, we’re gonna win,” Cook said Saturday. “We feel like our defense can hold the opponent under 17 points every single game, so our goal as an offense is to come out and score three touchdowns and, you know, expect to win.”