In the past, Spartan Nation has lashed out at Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins. He has been criticized for his interceptions, forced passes, and lack of confidence. But has the senior quarterback actually struggled?
I sat in the press box on Saturday.Â I can see a game from up above where things are crystal clear.Â You can watch from your lounge chair on a HD big screen, but what about Cousins?Â He was three hundred pound men, many who are well over six feet tall coming at him, trying to knock him down and block his view.Â Football isn't a game of perfection, it is a game of adaption.
Cousins threw for 265 yards and a touchdown against Ohio State. He was not brilliant, but he got the job done. He did a great job of controlling the game. Cousins led the team through the adverse weather conditions. He did not have many dynamic throws after his 33-yard touchdown pass to B.J. Cunningham. He took what the defense gave on him. Cousins was not afraid to throw a short pass into the flat or a quick pass over the middle.
The run-first mentality did not work on Saturday for the Michigan State offense. The injury-afflicted offensive line was not able to consistently open holes for Leâ€™Veon Bell and Edwin Baker, but they were able to consistently keep Cousins on his feet. Head Coach Mark Dantonio turned to his quarterback. Cousins did not disappoint. He was patient and went through his progressions, often finding his third or fourth receiver. Cousins audibled when necessary. Though he led the offense into scoring position, the Spartans were not able to convert on all of the opportunities. But they succeeded in melting the clock and keeping the Ohio State offense off of the field.
On the other side of the ball, the stifling Michigan State defense forced the Buckeyesâ€™ offense to pass. Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was unable to handle the reins. Whenever one is tempted to think that the offense is worse off because of Kirk Cousins, look back to Saturdayâ€™s game. Is a raw freshman like Miller or an experienced signal caller like Cousins better suited to run an offense? The Spartans are lucky to have a quarterback who understands the offense and the nuances of the game. Cousins may make an occasional mistake, as all quarterbacks do, but overall he is competent leader. He led the offense through bad weather, injuries, and a tough Buckeye defense on Saturday. No doubt Cousins wishes he could have a few throws back, but he did his job well as the field general on Saturday.
Was he perfect?Â Of course he wasn't, but how many of his critics are perfect in every part of their life prominently displayed on national TV?
Head Coach Mark Dantonio said in his post-game press conference on Saturday: "I thought Cousins was on, big-time. That ball was humming out there. He was throwing strikes." Despite trying circumstances, a hostile crowd and a great deal of pressure, Cousins led his team to a hard-fought, well-earned victory.
Spartan fans were hard on New England Patriot QB Brian Hoyer also.Â Coach Dantonio has said many times that the best stat to judge a QB by is wins and losses.Â For Cousins whose record is 15-3 in the last 18 games, I think that speaks for itself.