Four weeks into the season we have a decent sample size to evaluate Connor Cook on, although it’s worth noting that the perception of his strength of schedule does not match the reality.
Oregon’s secondary ranks among the worst in the nation this season, and might not even be the best defense Cook has faced through four weeks.
But since we’re a third of the way through the regular season, let’s take a look at how Cook has fared. Below is his full passing chart by distance and direction, followed by some key notes.
Cook has been pressure on 32 of his 111 dropbacks (28.8 percent) which is actually a slightly higher rate than you might expect given the modest level of competition Michigan State has faced. That rate certainly doesn’t bode well for their hopes against Ohio State, one of the most dangerous pass-rushing teams in the nation.
It’s tough to draw any conclusions about Cook based on his pressure performance, other than to say he’s avoided disaster.
Cook has yet to turn the ball over under pressure, and has only been sacked three times.
His 42 percent completion rate under pressure (11-26) is acceptable, although not high enough to tout it as a strength.
30 percent of Cooks dropbacks have come when lined up under center, and he’s performed extremely well in these situations.
Cook is 18-33 for 248 yards and two touchdowns (zero interceptions), under center. He’s also suffered two drops, making his true accuracy percentage a strong 60.6 percent.
Aaron Burbridge is helping… a lot
Tony Lippett was Cook’s go-to receiver last year, but Lippett often ran sloppy routes and struggled with body control in contested situations. While he made big plays, some costly drops and other mistakes hurt Michigan State throughout the year.
Burbridge, however, is playing like a true No. 1.
While Burbridge’s overall stats are obviously impressive, what stands out most are his seven receptions on 12 contested targets.
We track contested targets whenever a defender is actively attempting to make a play on the ball, or to separate the ball from the receiver before the completed action of the catch. In these situations, Burbridge has been among the most impressive receivers we’ve charted to date.