Alabama praises Connor Cook, compares him to Pro Bowl QBs
By now, everybody has an opinion on Connor Cook.
The third-year starter has played in countless big games on national TV, and more times than not, he’s won. Still, there are varying opinions on the Michigan State quarterback. Some NFL scouts believe Cook’s off-the-field personality could hurt his draft stock.
But there are others, specifically those that will face him in the College Football Playoff semifinal, that think he’ll excel on the next level.
Crimson Tide defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who is tasked with containing Cook in the Cotton Bowl on New Year’s Eve, offered up a comparison to one of the best quarterbacks college football produced in the last 10 years.
Alabama DC Kirby Smart says Connor Cook reminds him of Matt Ryan in college. "He's going to be an unbelievable pro, in my opinion."
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) December 28, 2015
Ryan, a three-time Pro-Bowler and a former NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year, was the third overall selection in the 2008 NFL draft. Cook actually threw for 15 more touchdowns and 17 fewer interceptions than Ryan did at Boston College.
It’s high praise for a guy who is already the winningest quarterback in Michigan State history.
But one Bama player took that comparison to another level.
No pressure or anything, but Bama's Eddie Jackson said fellow DB Geno Matias-Smith likened MSU's Connor Cook to Peyton Manning.
— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) December 28, 2015
Like Manning, Cook has also been ailing for the last month. He suffered a shoulder injury in the third-to-last week of the regular season against Maryland. That prevented him from playing against Ohio State and it limited him against Penn State — though the scoreboard would indicate otherwise — and Iowa in the B1G Championship.
Cook did tell reporters upon his arrival in Dallas that the three-week break following the conference title “did everything” for his shoulder. He has been wearing a shoulder harness in practice this week.
It remains to be seen whether or not the All-B1G quarterback will be at 100 percent for Thursday’s showdown. Either way, Alabama is preparing to face its top signal-caller foe do date.
Kirby Smart on Connor Cook: "By far the best QB we've played b/c there's nothing we can throw at him on defense he hasn't seen."
— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) December 28, 2015