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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Cousins must combat pressure, inconsistency in wake of Michigan game

Kirk Cousins' play has been so inconsistent this season that fans took to Twitter and various message boards making calls for backup Andrew Maxwell. A "what have you done for me lately" scenario to the bone.
While Cousins hasn't played to the hype of a Heisman hopeful that he entered the season with, he hasn't been terrible either. He was 20-32 with 250 yards and a touchdown Saturday in a win, yes a win, at Ohio State. Whether it be in spite of him or not, MSU is off to a 4-1 start and 1-0 in Big Ten play.
Yes, his accuracy has been shaky.
Yes, he almost gave the game away against the Buckeyes with an interception and a couple other dangerous pass attempts.
But the bottom line is he played well enough to win the game.
"I thought Cousins was on," MSU coach Mark Dantonio said during Saturday's post-game press conference. "Big time. I mean, that ball was humming out there. If you're sitting out there on the field, he was throwing strikes."
Something has been different — and by that I mean off — about Cousins this season. Perhaps it's that he's taken harsh criticism from the fans and media that he hasn't had to deal with ever in his career. As a result, Dantonio removed him and other Spartans from media availability leading up to the Ohio State game.
"He's got a tremendous amount of pressure on him," Dantonio said of Cousins. "Not only pressure to perform on the field but pressure to be the leader on this football team. Pressure in the community to do all the things that he does. And I just think he had a chance to step away from it. And I thought it was a positive thing."
Dantonio still has full faith in Cousins as his quarterback. So do Cousins' teammates. As they should. For fans questioning whether or not he's still the right guy to lead MSU, understand this: Andrew Maxwell can't beat Michigan Oct. 15. Kirk Cousins can. He's undefeated against the Wolverines in his career, by the way.
If the Spartans don't play in the first-ever Big Ten title game this season, it will be a result of their rigorous schedule stacked with tough road games — not because Cousins held them back.
He's still one of the top three quarterbacks in the Big Ten. In fact, he's one of the best quarterbacks MSU has ever had.
Cousins had no major D-1 scholarship offers coming out of high school. When he finally landed at MSU, he was buried on the depth chart. He's done nothing but exceed expectations his whole career. There's no reason to expect he'll crumble under them now.


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