Nov 24, 2015 04:39 PM EST
The Michigan State Spartans may find themselves in a difficult spot heading into this weekend's season finale against the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Connor Cook, the Spartans' starting quarterback, is still considered day-to-day with an injured right shoulder sustained against Maryland. The injury kept him out of Michigan State's gritty road win over Ohio State, even though he expressed confidence his shoulder's health.
According to ESPN, Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio said in his weekly press conference Cook may wind up being a game time decision.
So if the Spartans can beat Ohio State on the road with two backup QBs, they can beat Penn State at home with two backup QBs, right? Maybe Dantonio should keep Cook out even if he can play.
And if Cook does play, Dantonio cannot take lightly a Lions defense that is seventh in the nation in passing yards allowed and tied for first in sacks with 44. Putting Cook in against such a tough pass rush may be putting him in danger of worsening his shoulder injury.
Against Ohio State, albeit in bad weather, Tyler O'Conner and Damion Terry combined for 91 passing yards on eight completions in 16 attempts. But they also contributed eight carries each for 25 yards apiece. In fact, Michigan State ran for 203 yards on 51 carries against an Ohio State defense allowing 133 rushing yards per game.
The Spartans managed to win by running ran the ball even though a pretty tough run defense knew what to expect.
A conservative offensive approach, and keeping Cook out, could backfire if Penn State gets out to an early lead, or if the team cannot sustain drives.
Dantonio told reporters Cook could be available in the event of an emergency, as the Spartans need to win to claim the Big Ten East. Next would be the Big Ten Championship against Iowa, a team that boasts one of the best run defenses in the nation.
If there was a game Dantonio needs his most experienced quarterback, it would be a conference title game against Iowa.
(Team defense stats courtesy of ESPN)
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