Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 9/14/13
EAST LANSING, Mich. Much will be made of Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio naming Connor Cook his No. 1 quarterback after Saturdays 55-17 thumping of Youngstown State. And that is fine and good. But Cook had best not feel too secure until he plays that well against a team like Notre Dame, which just happens to be hosting the Spartans next Saturday. What caught my eye more than Cook was wide receiver Macgarrett Kings Jr., who developed a rapport with Cook that enabled a rhythm to be found. Rhythm is what the Spartans had been missing in failing to pass for a touchdown in the first two games. That lack of an air attack had the student section so frustrated that they were chanting before the first snap for freshman Damion Terry whom MSU coach Mark Dantonio now says likely will be redshirted. However, as guilty as the quarterbacks had been, the receivers were culpable in the failures. Kings stepped up and made plays early that made a statement. He gave Cook and the Spartans reason to believe they could turn the corner in this game. And, whats more, hes confident that a win can be had against the Fighting Irish. He catches everything, Dantonio said of Kings, who made all four catches for 61 yards and one touchdown in the first half. His confidence is very high right now and that's what you do. You put a premium on confidence when you're a skill player. "When your confidence is high, you can catch it all. We put him back there for punts today and he responded with a 15-yard return... He's a playmaker. The spunky receiver who like his father was named for the Det. Steve McGarrett character from Hawaii Five-O is as much fun to talk to as he is to watch on a post route. I asked him about the challenge of facing Notre Dame in South Bend. Its a big challenge, Kings said. This is going to be a statement game. And no doubt, we are going to go to Notre Dame and get a W. He pursed his lips, looked down and smiled. When asked about truly having the feeling a win could be had under the Golden Dome, Kings said, Yeah. Oh, yeah. And then he rattled off the names of Notre Dames stars: Tim Brown, Rocket Ismail, Manti Teo. But its a new yearNotre Dames a great team, but we are a great team, too. The big stage is to his liking. Im ready, Kings said. I live for that. He said he selected the Spartans over Ohio State and Florida State while at University School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., because he liked the family vibe created by Dantonio. And he also wanted to go someplace where he would be different, rather than blending in with the track team that plays football for the Seminoles. Being different began with the first name given his father by his grandmother, Theresa Kings. My grandma liked Steve McGarrett from Hawaii Five-O, Kings said. Everybody called my dad Five-O and me Little Five-O. It didnt start out like a day at the beach for the Spartans. The MSU student section wasted little time letting Dantonio know they were frustrated with the quarterback play of Cook, Tyler OConnor and returning starter Andrew Maxwell. With officials sorting out penalties that occurred on a punt just one minute into the game, the student body shouted in unison, WE WANT TERRY! And they repeated it over and over. So, how did Cook focus in the face of instant unrest to complete 15 of 22 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns without an interception? You just put it out of your mind and focus, Cook said. I heard that stuff and it didnt faze me. The Spartans were 123rd and last among major colleges with 3.4 yards per pass attempt, and nothing seemed to work. But then something surprising happened. Cook, the redshirt sophomore, looked formidable. Yes, he had at least three horrible over-throws. But he moved the chains and got the Spartans in the end zone on the first three drives of the game. I thought Connor played well, Dantonio said. It was the plan to go with him and to stick with him if he had a difficult time. I thought he responded. Connor Cook is the number one quarterback. Cook said, It's hard to get into a rhythm when you are using two other quarterbacks in week one and week two same thing. But I felt I got into a rhythm early and it wasn't just me. Guys were making plays. I was getting it to Macgarrett and he was making plays. The quarterback mentioned receiver Bennie Fowler and fullback Trevon Pendleton, who also caught touchdowns. He also connected for a score with Andre Sims Jr. But it was Kings who got the ball rolling with Cook, and their challenge is to play with the same rhythm against Notre Dame. Little Five-O thinks they can.
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