Offense was the key to a victory over the Youngstown State Penguins Saturday afternoon – amassing seven touchdowns in a runaway, 55-17 victory.
Quarterback Connor Cook led the Spartans (3-0) with a career-high four touchdowns, on 15-22 passing for 202 yards. He looked confident for the first time all season, and showed potential ability to carry the offense throughout the remainder of the season.
“The first two games I never gained a comfort level, because the coaches said we were going to rotate quarterbacks throughout the game,” said Cook. “For this game, coaches told me at the beginning of the week that I was going to start and that gave me the confidence that I needed.”
Cook was replaced by Tyler O’Connor mid-way through the third quarter. But unlike previous weeks, the substitution was to prevent an injury to the sophomore quarterback, after an outstanding first-half performance.
His play warranted Head Coach Mark Dantonio’s decision to name him starter in week four against Notre Dame.
“It’s important for our guys to establish confidence as the season progresses,” said Dantonio. “Connor had a great game and he will be our starting quarterback moving forward.”
The key to the Spartans’ offensive success was the ability of receivers to create separation throughout the first half. Sophomore Wide Receiver Macgarrett Kings had four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown, while Aaron Burbridge finished with three receptions for 44 yards.
A balanced running attack was also beneficial to the Spartans success, as Nick Hill rushed for 83 yards on nine carries and a touchdown. Jeremy Langford added 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
The Spartans still have a lot to prove this year, and next week’s game against Notre Dame will be a test. However, confidence is a crucial key to what this team needs as the Big Ten schedule approaches.
Derek Grantham is a football reporter for Impact Sports
Photo: David Defever