April 25, 2012

Roushar wants consistency, execution in spring game

EAST LANSING - The development of redshirt freshman Connor Cook will continue to be a primary focus for the Spartan offense during the final week of spring.

Cook, who has taken nearly all of the first and second-string reps since starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell suffered a spring-ending ankle injury during an April 13 scrimmage, was 15-of-34 passing for 144 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions.

"Just watching him handle the offense, stepping into the huddle taking command of the offense, communicating what we need to have done, showing confidence in it and then going out and executing it," said Spartan offensive coordinator Dan Roushar explaining what he will be watching during this Saturday's green and white game. "That is the first thing that we are looking for. We divide the roster so things are going to be a little bit different across the board. But I think bottom line, you want to see execution. That is the big thing we are looking for is consistency and execution."

Maxell's injury along with others incurred by Michigan State receivers has prevented the pass offense from growing the way Roushar hoped that it would this spring.

"Our inconsistency in the passing game and our inability to put starting receivers out there to get consistency, to get chemistry, to get a feel, to run and execute at a high speed," said Roushar when asked what had been the biggest source of disappoint this spring. "The bumps and bruises have come and it is disappointing, but at the same time it is one of the things that we are dealing with and we will benefit from it, just having Connor take every rep. He is getting better. It is unfortunate for Andrew, it is unfortunate for our offense, but at the same time Connor has got to be ready."

Roushar's assessment of Cook's performance will place more emphasis on the decision-making of his redshirt freshman than his passing stats.

"The wide receiver position is thin, you split them it up and it gets even thinner," said Roushar. "When you get into your personnel groups and start mixing and matching some guys may play at a spot they haven't played all spring. Then all of a sudden you might not look the way you want to look from an execution standpoint and understanding assignment.

"I look at the decision making process and the accuracy. We will work at catching the football. We will hopefully get guys that are good enough to go out and make plays consistently. But at the end of the day you are looking out there and maybe that is the number three X receiver and maybe he isn't going to play a whole lot for us next fall. That might be the case but you are certainly evaluating where the throw was made. Was it accurate or did we miss it? There is a little bit of consideration when you look at the film. If that would have been BJ Cunningham, that might have been a different deal."

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