Michigan State is sticking with playing both of its quarterbacks, even if it hasn't yielded success
EAST LANSING - It would be tough to play well for so long on Saturdays, keeping your team in the game, giving Michigan State chances to win.
And then something happens, be it a mistake of your own or a recovered onside kick not allowing you to close a game out.
All of a sudden, you’re Kirk Cousins and you’re sitting at 1-3 in your first year as the Spartans’ starter with backup Keith Nichol cutting into your playing time and breathing down your back.
“I’m frustrated with losing,” Cousins said. “I’m not a person who wants to go 1-3. That’s unacceptable. Losing is unacceptable, and that ticks me off, and I’m frustrated with that. We just work harder. We go back and work harder, and this feeling that I have now, this feeling that I’ve had the past three weeks is terrible.
“I don’t ever want to feel it again.”
Cousins, though, hasn’t been the root of Michigan State’s problems. He has completed 60.6 percent of his passes (63 of 104) for 850 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions.
Yet Cousins can’t seem to shake Nichol.
It could be because Cousins has had some critical miscues, most notably an interception on Michigan State’s last drive at Notre Dame two weeks ago when it only needed a field goal to tie the game.
He forced the pass, and Notre Dame safety Kyle McCarthy intercepted it, sealing the game.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio remains committed to playing both quarterbacks and has been looking at multiple factors to decide who plays when.
“The number one thing to me is who’s moving the football team, how are we performing and those type of things,” Dantonio said. “Are we turning the ball over, is the football team moving, and who gives us the best chance to win. That’s what we look at as we go through it.
“Both guys have been great. They’ve been extremely mature the way they’ve handled things.”
But still, the weekly question remains of who will start at quarterback. Cousins has started the first four games of the season. The dreaded “OR” stays in the depth chart, though.
And Nichol has played well enough to keep him in the conversation, although at this point Cousins would be stunned if he didn’t take the first offensive snap Saturday against Michigan.
“I would be surprised,” Cousins said. “I feel like I’ve played well minus, probably, three or four plays. (So) I would be surprised, yeah.”