Senior Bowl Preview - Part I
Q&A with Michigan State record-setting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
Jan. 28, 2012
Michigan State fifth-year senior Kirk Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, will represent the North in Saturday's Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins compiled a 27-12 record (.692) in 39 career starts, including a 22-5 mark over his final two seasons. He also ranks first in MSU history in pass completions (723), passing yards (9,131), TD passes (66), passing efficiency (146.1), 200-yard passing games (26) and total offense (9,004 yards).
NFL Network will televise the 63rd annual Senior Bowl at 4 p.m. EST.
Late Thursday night, Cousins participated in a Q&A with msuspartans.com.
Q: You have received a lot of positive press from this week's workouts at the Senior Bowl. Can you provide us with a practice update and what kind of feedback you have received from the scouts and North coaches?
A: Obviously, the scouts aren't going to tip their hands, but my position coach from the Minnesota Vikings, Craig Johnson, and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said that I've had a great week of practice. Based upon the number of individual meetings that I've had with NFL scouts and head coaches, there's a great deal of interest.
As far as the practices, I think I've done a good job this week. I've definitely been able to separate myself (from the other North quarterbacks) in terms of arm strength. For whatever reason, I came into this week with the reputation of having average arm strength. That's probably something that's difficult to evaluate on film, but here the scouts have an opportunity to get a real close look. I think I've proven that I have nothing to hide. I'm thankful that I've had this opportunity to display my arm strength. I knew coming into this week that my arm strength was never a concern when it came to game planning at Michigan State.
I have had a good week throwing the football. Each day, I've had an opportunity to throw against air, one-on-one, seven-on-seven and in team drills. So I've had chances to prove that I can make all of the throws.
This week, my life has been an open book, both on and off the field.
Q: With a short week of practice, how difficult is it to develop any type of rhythm, chemistry with the North receiving corps?
A: It's been a challenge. There are wide receivers here from all over the country, and they all run routes at different speeds. From a timing standpoint, the shorter routes - the quick screens and slants - are the most challenging. With the longer, deeper routes, I have more time to adjust my throws by measuring the receiver's strides. With all-star games, we all know that timing is part of the deal and all the scouts take those variables into consideration when evaluating each of us.
I've had no problem picking up the offense, so I feel like I've been evaluated fairly. I have definitely benefited from my playing experience at Michigan State because I ran a pro-style offense. It's funny because I haven't had to adjust any of the steps I take when making handoffs in the backfield. The footwork is exactly the same. So I don't have to think about the footwork, I simply rely on my natural instincts. I'm grateful that I didn't have to learn how to take those steps.
Q: Is there any added pressure in practice this week knowing that every move you make is being evaluated?
A: It's a long evaluation process and this is the first step. You definitely want to bring your "A" game every day and prove that you can handle and survive under pressure.
My experiences at Michigan State have certainly helped prepare me for this process. From the first day I stepped on campus, I competed for playing time at the quarterback position - first against Nick Foles and later against Keith Nichol. In my opinion, Nick and Keith are both top-level college quarterbacks. I competed for playing time at my position in every practice for three full seasons, so I'm familiar with competition. I appreciate the fact that I had nothing handed to me at Michigan State. I'm going through that process again now; I'm just competing at a different level.
I'm really trying to enjoy the process. At Michigan State, I consistently focused on the next accomplishment or opportunity. It was hectic and stressful because I was always focused on getting the next thing done on our checklist. I was fortunate enough to be selected to play in the Senior Bowl and this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I want to enjoy and appreciate this opportunity.
Q: How would you evaluate the job your college teammate and Senior Bowl roommate Brian Linthicum has done this week?
A: Brian Linthicum has had a great week of practice. Brian too has had an advantage this week because he played tight end in a pro-style offense, so he knows how to play with his hand in the ground. He regularly played in a three-point stance, so he knows how to block at the point of attack and release off the defensive end or linebacker into passing routes. Some guys, like Mizzou's Michael Egnew, is accustomed to playing from a two-point stance, so a lot of this stuff is foreign to him. It gives Brian an advantage heading into the NFL Draft.
The scouts have liked what they've seen from Brian this week. He's blocked well and been disciplined in his route running, and he pushed through a minor injury early in the week.
Q: Can you identify some of your North teammates who have impressed you in practice this week?
A: Marvin McNutt is a very talented receiver. Marvin had great production at Iowa, and he didn't exactly play in a pass-happy offense. Ohio State's Mike Brewster and Mike Adams look like NFL linemen. Ohio State running back Dan Herron is a playmaker. Mike Martin is tough in the trenches, and I've had the opportunity to see the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry play out in practice every day when Martin matches up against Brewster.
Q: You'll have an opportunity in Saturday's Senior Bowl to improve your NFL Draft status. Have you established any personal goals?
A: The coaches haven't discussed a playing rotation for Saturday yet. So we don't know if we'll each play a quarter or if the coaches will determine playing time by series. From head coach Leslie Frazier, the point of emphasis Saturday is ball security.
This isn't a typical game, so it's going to be a challenge to get into a flow. It's important for me to be on top of my game right away, so I can make the most out of every opportunity.
Coach Frazier emphasized the importance of avoiding the negative play: poor ball-handling, interceptions, fumbled center exchanges and sacks. Ball security is so important because you want to give your team chances to score. So I must be confident in my timing and ball security on Saturday.