Former MSU quarterback Connor Cook to make first start in playoffs
Connor Cook’s time has come.
After injuries to Oakland Raider quarterbacks Derek Carr and Matt McGloin, the rookie out of MSU will get his first career start on Saturday as the Raiders face the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round of the NFL playoffs.
“I’m just embracing the opportunity,” Cook told reporters. “I’m going to go out there, have fun, just let it all hang out and I’m obviously (going to) prepare my butt off and do what I’ve been doing all season long and just go out there and have fun with my teammates.”
After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft, Cook was inactive for the Raiders’ first 16 games until the starter, Carr, was injured and had to be carted off the field in a Christmas Eve victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
It was later announced Carr suffered a broken fibula, an injury that narrows any hope of playing this season.
As a result of Carr’s injury, Cook was active for the first time all season and tasked with backing up McGloin in the final game of the regular season until the 27-year-old injured his shoulder.
The McGloin injury gave Cook his first chance at leading an NFL team.
The Raiders ultimately were defeated 24-6 by the reigning Super Bowl Champions, the Denver Broncos, but Cook threw for 150 yards while recording a touchdown and an interception in the loss.
“I felt pretty calm,” Cook said. “With the hard circumstances — just going in there and stuff — I felt like I was confident and I know the offense well. I’ve been in the system for almost a year now. We’re running stuff that I’ve been familiar with, so it was actually fun to get there and get some reps.”
As a Spartan, Cook broke numerous records donning the green and white.
The Hinckley, Ohio native left East Lansing as the Spartans’ winningest quarterback with 34 wins and is first in touchdown passes with 71, total offense with 9,403 yards, passing yards with 9,194 and passing attempts with 1,170.
Cook is also tied for first for the most 200-yard with 26 and 300-yard passing games with 10.
“Obviously playing at Michigan State, we played in some big time games there,” Cook said. “We were fortunate enough to do that, so I’m going to try and take whatever I did there and put it to use on Saturday.”
MSU football head coach Mark Dantonio believes Cook’s time as a Spartan and overall work ethic will benefit him under center Saturday.
“I think he prepares very well, at least on the college end of things,” Dantonio said in a phone interview with the NFL Network. “He’s very particular in terms of everything, wanted to be right, good overcoming mistakes, I think that's as big as anything. He threw an interception, bounced back from that, continued to play on through it, so I don’t think he’s going to be intimidated by the scope of the game. I mean, that hasn’t been a problem for him when he was here and I expect him to play very well.”
The Raiders will kickoff against the Texans at 4:35 p.m. on Jan. 7 and the game will be televised on ESPN.