There is a story that circulates around campus right now. A story about Kirk Cousins and his summer vacation. And no, it’s not about booze and supermodels. It’s about football, motivation – and destiny. Well, at least that’s what you tend to read out of it as you’re getting fired up for game one.
And the story goes a little something like this: After spending some time at the Manning Passing Academy in the swamps of Louisiana during the summer, Cousins attended Elite 11 camp at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Wait – California? Isn’t there a place every Big Ten football player dreams of? Right!
So why don’t visit the Rose Bowl? Well. Nice try, if it hadn’t been for this uncooperative security guard. According to “ESPN”, “Cousins tried to get into the stadium but was shot down by a security guard. He tried explaining to the guard that he played quarterback at Michigan State, but the guard told him the only way he’d get into the stadium is as a player in the game in January.” Cousins’ response: “I’ll wave at you through the bus window.” A defiant answer. A goal. A destiny.
But can Kirk Cousins lead the Spartans to another great season? He can, says “Detroit Free Press” sports writer George Sipple. He predicts: “Kirk Cousins will become the third passer in school history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. Cousins threw for 2,825 yards last season and with the talent he has returning among receivers and tight ends, he should join Jeff Smoker (3,395 in 2003) and Drew Stanton (3,077 in 2005 – who is now with the Detroit Lions and looked pretty darn good in preseason) in reaching that milestone.”
And no matter if Cousins really does reach that milestone – or not: the expectations are skyrocketing after winning a share of the Big Ten title last season. The first in 20 years. Too much of a distraction? No. In East Lansing nobody seems too cocky. Two players, attending the Big Ten football media days in Chicago, did not even bother to wear their championship rings.
And there might be a good reason for that. And I don’t mean the superstitious semi-scientific fact that the Spartans traditionally follow up a good season with a bad one. No, I mean installing a new offensive coordinator (in Dan Roushar), incorporating young players in the o-line (new starters at center and both tackles) and replacing Greg Jones and Eric Gordon on defense might take a toll.
It might. It might as well not. The team looked sharp in camp. With several starting positions up for grabs till the very last day of practice, young players keep pushing. Especially MLB Max Bullough, who will replace Jones in the middle, seems to be ready for his breakout season. “I’m excited to see Max making plays,” linebackers coach Mike Tressel said in late August. “I always knew, without a doubt, he can run the defense.” “I’m having a lot of fun,” Bullough said. “It’s really fun to step into the shoes of the guys that were here last year. We’re taking it step by step.”
And what that means to head coach Mark Dantonio? “Winning every football game. That have always been my expectations. Our expectations are to win. Period. Plain and simple.” No fan in Spartan nation could have said it better. Go Green! Go White!