CHICAGO – Michigan State has replenished its roster numerous times during Mark Dantonio’s tenure. But replacing Connor Cook, the program’s winningest quarterback, might prove to be an entirely different challenge for the Spartans.
Cook left for the NFL after compiling an impressive 34-5 overall record in three seasons as the full-time starter. He leaves a glaring void behind him, one that will likely be filled by Tyler O’Connor or Damion Terry.
Neither quarterback has much experience other than being a backup and the man who wins the job has some enormous shoes to fill. Yet wide receiver R.J. Shelton isn’t a bit concerned, regardless of who takes the snaps this season.
“I’m comfortable with whoever’s at quarterback for us and those guys last year won the Ohio State game for us, and the defense too,” Shelton said at Big Ten Media Day Tuesday in Chicago. “I’m not worried about the quarterback situation because all those guys lead and it’s something I’m (not) worried about.”
Shelton also believes O’Connor, whom he calls “Mikey,” would have had the same success as Cook had he been the starter all of last season.
“Mikey (O’Connor) always had confidence,” Shelton said. “If he had fully played – if Connor wasn’t there, if he was hurt – Mikey would’ve stepped right in and did what he needed to do to take us to the Big Ten championship, to the playoff.”
Part of the reason Shelton might not be as worried as some is because both quarterbacks helped the Spartans beat Ohio State on the road last season. With Cook out, both O’Connor and Terry managed the game beautifully and helped the Spartans pull out a massive 17-14 upset over the Buckeyes en route to the Big Ten title.
“It was a huge confidence boost for him and (Terry),” Shelton said. “I’m fine with whoever is in at quarterback and whoever’s going to get the job is lead and lead us in the right way.”