COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland has faced quarterbacks with legitimate pro aspirations before. Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, on his way to tearing apart defenses all season, helped the Falcons upset Maryland in Week 2. Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg used the deep ball to eek out a one-point Nittany Lion win in Baltimore.
But now there is Michigan State's Connor Cook, projected by many to be at least one of the Top 3 quarterbacks in the upcoming crop of talent that can enter the 2016 NFL Draft.
In 2015, Cook has thrown for 2,405 yards and 21 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
“He does things so effortlessly,” Maryland defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said on Wednesday.
“He doesn’t even look like he’s throwing the ball that hard and all of the sudden it comes firing out of there. I think he’s an outstanding quarterback. He has surprising mobility. Sometimes a big guy like that you don’t think can run around, but he gets out of a lot of trouble. He’s tough to get down and he’s able to make a lot of plays with his arm.”
Cook has thrown for at least 325 yards in each of the past four games, all in Big Ten play and three times on the road. That included a 398-yard day against Indiana and a 335-yard, four-touchdown performance in the team’s first loss of the year last week against Nebraska.
“Obviously Connor Cook is probably the best of [the quarterbacks Maryland has faced],” linebacker Jermaine Carter said. “He’s going to be a first-round draft pick probably coming up … and it shows on film.
“We’re going to have to put pressure on him, make him get the ball out, try to force him to make mistakes.”
So the key again for Maryland is its pass rush. Junior Yannick Ngakoue is closing in on the school’s sack record and he will be part of the equation for limiting Cook’s effectiveness.
Kickoff is at noon in East Lansing.