Following a turning point at Notre Dame in Week 4, the Spartans have averaged more than 30 points and 400 yards of total offense per game the last nine contests.
No. 4 Spartans will face No. 5 Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2014 in Pasadena, Calif.
With its first-ever victory over the Cornhuskers (41-28), Michigan State clinched a share of its second Big Ten Legends Division title in three seasons.
Dave Warner just completed his first season as the co-offensive coordinator and his seventh overall at Michigan State. Warner, who also coaches the running backs, was promoted to co-offensive coordinator on March 4, 2013. He previously coached the quarterbacks for six seasons.
The Spartan offense steadily improved all season long during MSU's record-setting campaign in 2013, culminating with strong performances against Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game and Stanford in the Rose Bowl Game. The Spartans produced 438 yards of total offense against the Buckeyes and nearly 400 yards (397) against Stanford, which entered the game No. 14 in the FBS in total defense.
Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook was named the Most Outstanding Player in the Big Ten Championship Game after throwing for 304 yards and three touchdowns, and he topped that performance by racking up a career-high 332 passing yards and two touchdowns against the Cardinal while being named the Rose Bowl Game's Offensive MVP. Cook finished his first year as the starter with one of the best statistical seasons in school history, ranking second in the MSU single-season record book in touchdown passes (22), fourth in total offense (2,831 yards) and pass attempts (380), fifth in passing yards (2,755), and sixth in pass completions (223).
In his first year working with Jeremy Langford, Warner helped developed the junior into one of the top running backs in the Big Ten. Langford, who hadn't started a game entering the season, emerged as a dynamic scoring threat, as he led the Big Ten with 18 rushing touchdowns. The Wayne, Mich., native also ranked among the Big Ten leaders in touchdowns (first with 19), scoring (third with 8.1 ppg.) and rushing (sixth with 101.6 ypg.). In addition, Langford ranked among MSU's single-season leaders in touchdowns (third), rushing touchdowns (fourth), rushing attempts (sixth with 292) and rushing yards (eighth with 1,422). He established a school record by rushing for more than 100 yards in eight consecutive games.
MSU's offense also featured a balanced passing attack. The Spartans were one of only two teams in the Big Ten to have seven players with at least 17 receptions, and nine different players caught touchdown passes.
The offensive line, which rotated in eight different players, was one of the top units in the country and a key reason why MSU ranked seventh in the FBS in time of possession (33:19). In addition to a strong running game, the Spartans only allowed 17 sacks, second fewest in the Big Ten and 15th fewest in the FBS.
Six starters earned All-Big Ten recognition on the offense, including Cook (second team, coaches), senior offensive guard Blake Treadwell (second team, coaches and media), sophomore center Jack Allen (second team, media), senior offensive tackle Fou Fonoti (honorable mention), senior offensive guard Dan France (honorable mention) and Langford (honorable mention).
Warner has been a quarterbacks coach and/or offensive coordinator or passing game coordinator for 25 of his 30 seasons as a college assistant. Warner served as the offensive coordinator for two seasons (1999-2000) at Connecticut, and was the passing game coordinator at Wyoming (1998) and Houston (2001-02).
Under the direction of Warner, Spartan quarterbacks posted record numbers.
In his first year as the starting quarterback in 2012, junior Andrew Maxwell ranked among MSU's Top 10 single-season leaders in pass attempts (second with 446), pass completions (fourth with 234), passing yards (seventh with 2,606) and total offense (eighth with 2,500 yards). Maxwell, who completed 53 percent of his passes (234-of-446) for 2,606 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, ranked fourth in the Big Ten in passing (200.5 yards per game) and sixth in total offense (192.3 ypg.), and had six 200-yard passing games.
Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history with 27 victories as a starter, became MSU's career record holder in 2011 for passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26). Cousins' numbers were some of the best in Big Ten history, as finished his career ranked among the conference's all-time Top 10 in completion percentage (tied for sixth at .641), passing efficiency rating (sixth), passing yards (10th) and TD passes (tied for 10th).
In his final season wearing the Green and White, Cousins had his best year as a Spartan in 2011, setting a single-season MSU record with 25 touchdown passes and tying a school record with 11 200-yard passing games. Cousins also ranked among MSU's single-season leaders in pass completions (second with 267), passing yards (second with 3,316), pass attempts (second with 419), passing yards per game (third with 236.9 ypg.), total offense (third with 3,227 yards), passing efficiency (seventh at 145.1) and completion percentage (eighth at 63.7).
One of three finalists for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football Award, which is presented to the top player in the Big Ten, Cousins ranked among the conference leaders in passing (second with 236.9 ypg.), touchdown passes (tied for second with 25), passing efficiency (third with 145.1 rating) and total offense (fifth with 234.1 ypg.).
Cousins earned second-team All-Big Ten accolades from the coaches and was an honorable mention All-American by SI.com. Winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, Cousins was also named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award and one of 16 semifinalists for the Davey O'Brien Award.
Cousins was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 National Football League Draft by Washington and completed 33-of-48 throws (.688) for 466 yards and four touchdowns in his rookie season for the Redskins.
As a team, the Spartans set a school record with 3,535 passing yards during the 2011 season, and the 26 passing touchdowns were third most in school history.
In his second year as the starter in 2010, Cousins blossomed his junior season and helped lead Michigan State to a share of the Big Ten Championship. He completed a career-high 67 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards and 20 touchdowns and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection. Cousins tied a Michigan State record by throwing a touchdown pass in 16 consecutive games (spanning from 2009 to 2010), and also had one stretch of six consecutive 200-yard passing games.
In Cousins' first year as a starter, the sophomore finished the 2009 season completing 60 percent of his passes for 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns. His pass efficiency rating of 142.6 ranked third in the Big Ten and 25th nationally. Warner also tutored Keith Nichol in 2009, who threw for 764 yards and seven touchdowns while compiling a 143.2 quarterback rating.
Warner mentored Brian Hoyer in 2007 and 2008, and Hoyer responded by becoming one of the most productive quarterbacks in Spartan history. Hoyer ranks among MSU's career leaders in pass attempts (No. 3 at 896), passing yards (No. 4 with 6,159), pass completions (No. 4 at 500) and TD passes (No. 7 with 35). Warner also developed Hoyer's game management skills, as the senior captain accumulated a 16-11 record and led the Spartans to back-to-back bowl appearances. Hoyer signed a free agent contract with New England in April 2009 and spent three seasons serving as the back-up quarterback behind Tom Brady. Hoyer recently completed his fifth season in the NFL with Cleveland in 2013.
In his only season at Cincinnati with Dantonio, Warner mentored two starting quarterbacks, in Dustin Grutza and Nick Davila. During the 2006 regular season, Grutza ranked fifth in the BIG EAST in both passing efficiency (123.9 rating) and total offense (168.1), while Davila orchestrated the offense in Cincinnati's 30-11 upset over then-No. 7 Rutgers on Nov. 18 as he completed 11-of-15 passes for 277 yards and a touchdown.
Before coaching at Cincinnati, Warner coached wide receivers at Southern Miss in 2003 and 2004. He has also made stops as the passing game coordinator at Houston (2001-02), offensive coordinator at Connecticut (1999-2000), passing game coordinator at Wyoming (1998) and quarterbacks coach at Bucknell (1997).
Warner and Dantonio also coached together for four seasons at Kansas, when Dantonio was the secondary coach for the Jayhawks from 1991-94. Warner spent nine total seasons as quarterbacks coach for Kansas (1988-96). Prior to KU, Warner spent four years on the staff at Kent State (1984-87), including the last two as quarterbacks coach.
A three-year letterwinner as a quarterback at Syracuse, Warner finished his playing career ranked seventh in career passing yards (2,593) and was a member of the 1979 team that won the Independence Bowl. After graduating in 1982, he began his coaching career as a graduate assistant for the Orange, working with the quarterbacks and offensive backs.
Warner coached in his 11th bowl game when the Spartans faced Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1, 2014. Warner has also coached in the 2004 New Orleans and 2003 Liberty Bowls while at Southern Miss, the 1992 and 1995 Aloha Bowls while at Kansas, and the 2007 Champs Sports, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Alamo, 2011 Capital One, 2012 Outback Bowl and 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls at Michigan State.
Among Warner's top products was Kansas' Chip Hilleary, who became only the second player in Big Eight Conference history to rush for over 1,000 yards and pass for more than 4,000 yards. At Wyoming, he developed a passing attack that was ranked third in the Western Athletic Conference.
Warner earned a bachelor's degree in speech communications from Syracuse in 1982 and received a master's degree in physical education from the school in 1984.
Warner and his wife Leigh Ann have a son, Jackson. Warner also has a daughter, Alexandra.
THE WARNER FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: Seventh. Joined the staff on Dec. 1, 2006, from Cincinnati.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant at Syracuse (1982-83); running backs coach (1984-85) and quarterbacks coach (1986-87) at Kent State; quarterbacks coach at Kansas (1988-96); quarterbacks coach at Bucknell (1997); passing game coordinator at Wyoming (1998); offensive coordinator at Connecticut (1999-2000); passing game coordinator at Houston (2001-02); wide receivers coach at Southern Miss (2003-04); quarterbacks coach at Cincinnati (2006).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in speech communications from Syracuse in 1982; master's degree in physical education from Syracuse in 1984.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Three-year letterwinner as a quarterback at Syracuse (1979-81).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Player - 1979 Independence Bowl. Coach - 1992 Aloha Bowl, 1995 Aloha Bowl, 2003 Liberty Bowl, 2004 New Orleans Bowl, 2007 Champs Sports Bowl, 2009 Capital One Bowl, 2010 Valero Alamo Bowl, 2011 Capital One Bowl, 2012 Outback Bowl, 2012 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, 2014 Rose Bowl.
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