Kirk Cousins Spring Game Press Conference
 
 
 
Kirk Cousins addressed the media prior to his debut as a color analyst on the Big Ten Network.
 
Kirk Cousins addressed the media prior to his debut as a color analyst on the Big Ten Network.
 
 

April 20, 2013

Former Michigan State and current Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins

On his potential future in broadcasting...
I'm excited for this opportunity. It's a little scary; it's a little like being a rookie in the NFL or a redshirt in your first year at Michigan State. You don't know quite what to expect; you know you're not going to be as polished as you'd like, but you've got to start somewhere and where better to start than where it's familiar at Michigan State. I'm very grateful for the opportunity the Big Ten Network has let me have today. It's just one step in a long line of hopefully being able to have a broadcasting career someday. I want the football thing to last as long as it possibly can, but at the same time, in the offseason, it makes a lot of sense to pursue other opportunities and prepare yourself for whenever football ends. That's why I'm here today. It's just a bonus that I get to be back in familiar territory, watching a team that I love.

On quarterback competition during the spring...
It's challenging. You feel the pressure. It's only a spring game, the stadium is half full, the weather is not ideal today, and it's only April but you feel the pressure when you're in a quarterback competition because you know that you're fighting for your job. I remember that day like it was yesterday, back in the spring of 2009, Keith (Nichol) and I went back and forth and we couldn't outdo each other. Hopefully, there will be that same kind of offensive explosion today. Hopefully, we can see plays being made by Andrew (Maxwell), Connor (Cook) and Tyler (O'Connor) at the quarterback position. After the way the offense played last year, I think everybody would be excited to see some offensive explosion this spring. It takes time and it takes experience. Those guys do probably feel similar pressures that I felt but playing the quarterback position is all about rising to the occasion and not letting that pressure affect you in a negative way.

 

 

On each of the quarterbacks...
I'll start with Andrew. I think from a decision-making standpoint, from an ability to run the whole operation, meaning the 25-second play clock and getting guys in and out of the huddle, having the whole operation run smoothly, which is the job of the quarterback; Andrew's going to do that at a high level. He's intelligent; he's in his fifth year. That's probably where he has an advantage over Tyler and Connor.

I think where Connor is exciting and there's a lot to look forward to is in his ability to create and make plays. He has a strong arm and seems to be pretty athletic. He has all the tools you're looking for from a quarterback athletically and physically. So that's exciting, you have to give that a look, and allow him to grow in that ability to run the operation.

Tyler is the one I'm the least familiar with because I wasn't a teammate of his while I was at Michigan State. From what I've heard and the little bit I've been around him, he seems to be someone with a lot of promise. Right now, as a redshirt, it's tough because you don't know quite what to expect and you're not as polished. As a coach or as a former player, what you want to see from a young player like that are those base abilities, a strong arm, an accurate arm, quick feet, good leadership, good toughness. I hear he has those things; it just may be a matter of time for that to develop. The decision-making, that takes time to develop. I think Tyler is probably a few months away from really knowing it the way he will need to. Connor and Andrew both offer different things and I think it's going to just come down to how well can Connor run the show and how well Andrew can create. To the degree that one of those guys can do those things, it will probably sway the coaches in that direction.

On practicing live quarterback this spring...
There were a couple times, but rare occasions, where maybe Coach (Dantonio) got in a bad mood and I was no longer wearing a red jersey, but it didn't happen much. Whereas this was consistent through the whole spring it seemed. It definitely gives them a more realistic situation and I think in the long run, it's a benefit as long as you can get out of the spring healthy and get out of fall camp healthy. It's a good thing because your ability to feel the pass rush and to know how to react is going to make you a much better quarterback. Obviously if you end up with an injury, it's not worth it. If these guys can come out of the spring healthy, absolutely, it's a great thing to do, and it will help those guys come fall.

On his rookie year with the Washington Redskins...
I kept bracing myself for the rookie wall, for getting hazed, for having the playbook be too overwhelming, but I found myself at the end of the year, after our playoff loss to Seattle, catching my breath and taking stock of the year, feeling like I really didn't get hazed. I thought Rex Grossman was pretty nice to me and Robert (Griffin). The playbook, while it was a lot, we worked hard and I think we picked it up pretty well. I never really hit a rookie wall of any kind. So while I was concerned about all of that for much of the season, the season came to an end and I took stock of the year and felt like it was a great year. It gives me that much more excitement going into year two. I love my coaches; I love my teammates; I love being in the D.C. area. It's a lot warmer there than it is here right now. I really have no complaints. I'm excited about my role with the Redskins and the opportunities that I have and had have. It's just a matter of staying patient and understanding that my career is a marathon, not a sprint. I've just got to make the most of the opportunities that I get, and if I do, I'll get a chance to be a starter in this league at some point.

On the potential to start in the upcoming season...
It's hard to say. Obviously, Robert wants to start that opener, that's his mindset as he's going through rehab. Knowing Robert, he's going to heal faster than your average person. I think the bigger question is how cautious you want to be with him because you can throw him out there 85-to-90 percent, cross your fingers and hope for the best, then maybe he stays healthy, maybe he doesn't. You could also, at 100 percent, hold him out to be extra cautious. So it all comes down to decisions that medical people and coaches make that I'm not involved in. Whether he's 85 percent or 100 percent, I don't know what the decision is going to be, but what I do know is that I've got to be ready and I will benefit greatly from the reps I get throughout OTAs and mini-camp this spring as well as training camp and preseason games this August. I do believe he's going to heal very quickly. I don't want to put any pressure on him to heal as fast as an Adrian Peterson did, but it wouldn't surprise me. The fact that he's been through an ACL injury before, I'm sure he knows exactly what he needs to be doing to get back on to full strength and he knows exactly the timetable it's going to take.

On his preparation in light of Robert Griffin's injury...
I don't think it changes my preparation; I think it adds a sense of urgency. I was back in D.C. this week; we started our offseason program so we were in meetings and workouts for the past several days. Just sitting there in those meetings and workouts, you realize that Monday night against the (Philadelphia) Eagles, I could be starting that game and then week two at Lambeau Field. It's not the Big Ten; it's the big leagues; it's as high as you get so there are no excuses anymore that `well, I'm a rookie, so I can get away with making mistakes.' I mean, you've got to be ready, so my preparation doesn't change. Whether I'm preparing to be a backup or a starter, I think it's the sense of urgency and excitement that surrounds the opportunity that could potentially be there.

On any special purchases since entering the NFL...
You know, I was talking with my parents the other day about this because I was on the Huge Show and he asked me the same question. I thought about it and thought about it ever since he asked me, I've been thinking about it and I haven't really bought anything that cool. I opened up a couple of retirement accounts. I think to be able to max out your retirement account at 24 is a pretty cool thing, although I'm not going to see that money for a long time. There a couple cool things that I haven't bought that I've been tempted to buy, like a nice pair of Jordan shoes and I keep seeing some really nice cars in the Redskins' parking lot when I pull into the facility and you start to think `maybe I could do that someday' and then `naw, that's not me; I can't drive a Bentley.' It is tempting when you start to get into that life and see those guys and the toys that they have. It's much different than the parking lot at Spartan Stadium when we go up to practice, I'll tell you that.

I drive a Chevy Tahoe. I had a good opportunity out there to get a car with a dealership, and it's been a good deal.

On his Goodwill shopping...
So I'm pretty frugal, and I got out there to D.C. last fall and actually Chris Cooley gave me some unused furniture of his so I didn't have to spend any money on furniture, which was great. Then I moved out of that apartment and had to get moved into a new one this April when I went back out there last weekend. So I've got to furnish this thing, and I don't want to spend money on furniture. Someday, I'm going to get married and my wife's going to make the furniture decisions anyway, so I don't want to spend money on something I've got to throw away later. So I just thought I'd go to Goodwill and I furnished my whole apartment for maybe 150 bucks. I got a nice TV stand, a nice dresser, and a nice desk. I cleaned them out pretty well. I got a good variety; I don't know that it all matches really well, but it works and my roommate Tom Compton isn't complaining, which is all that really matters right now. I'm sure, though, when we move out of that apartment or if I get married someday, that furniture won't be coming with me.

On his take on the Michigan State offense for this year...
One of the rarest things from when I was at Michigan State that was a blessing to me was the continuity of the coaching staff. I mean, to have the same offense for five years, the same offensive coordinator for four years, the same quarterback coach for all five years, that's a major blessing that gets forgotten that helped me in my development. When you have success, coaches leave. Coach (Don) Treadwell left after we won the Big Ten title and Coach (Dan) Roushar took over. Looking back now, that was a seamless transition, that was never a concern or a challenge when Coach Roushar took over the offensive coordinator position, but I think a part of that was that we had so many experienced players on offense that it was a very easy adaptation. Then when we lost all those players, that was a big adjustment. Now you lose Coach Roushar to the NFL, bring in Coach (Jim) Bollman, and move Coach (Dave) Warner, a lot of these coaches move around now, it changes things up. I think it's a good thing; it can bring some fresh air, bring newness to the situation when maybe it was getting stale, I don't know. It's definitely not stale anymore. In talking with Andrew this week, I think there's a lot of excitement, and Andrew felt like this was a very good spring. There may be attitudes on the outside, he was saying, that there are question marks, but he said `I feel like this spring ended up really well.' Hopefully this spring game will go as he wants it. I'm excited to see what this offense will do this fall. I'm excited to see Coach Warner calling plays; obviously, I spent a lot of time with him over five years and know what he knows about football. I'm excited to see that show in his play calling and I think it's going to be a good fit all the way around.

On Riley Bullough...
I was asking some of the guys back at Michigan State, my old roommate Joel Kuntzman is a student assistant, and then Andrew, I said `So is this move by Riley the real deal?' They both said it is the real deal; he can really make the switch. He's got a lot of size, and he's fast enough. He can do it. I know the players believe in him as a running back if he needs to do that and it sounds like he needs to do that. It'll be fun to watch today.

On the release of his upcoming book "Game Change"...
I had an opportunity presented to me last spring to write a book, and my first reaction was that I was going to be a backup in the NFL, I just don't know if I'm accomplished enough or if I'm big time enough to do that. They convinced me that there really was a place for this book, and it's not a biography. It's a book written to a 15-year-old Kirk Cousins, saying `here's what you're going to face over the next 10 years and here's what you need to know to make it through, to make the kind of decisions that are going to be a blessing to you later in life.' So I'm writing it 10 years later, almost 25, writing to the 15-year-old freshman in high school saying `here's what you're going to face in your four years of high school; here's what you're going to face in your five years of college; here's what I learned good and bad from mistakes or good choices that I made.' So the title is "Game Changer" and the subtitle is "Faith, Football, & Finding Your Way." It really is centered around my faith, using stories from my football experiences, specifically here at Michigan State, and it's geared toward helping young people find their way and find the right way. That book with come out June 25. Zondervan is the publisher; they've done a great job of putting it together with me. I'm very excited about it, and I just want to get it into the hands of as many young people as possible to have a positive impact on them. I felt like in my college years and since I've left, I speak so many places, to youth groups and churches. It was frustrating to me to speak for 15 minutes and then leave. I was never able to give the kids a resource that could help them once I left. I think that this book is exactly that. I can give it to them when I leave, when I meet people, and it can be, maybe they hear one chapter in a talk, but then there are 12 or 13 more chapters that they can go home and read. That's really the way I saw this book unfolding. It's been a lot of really hard work; it's been about a year's worth of work to put it together, but I'm excited about releasing it this summer.

On quarterback criticism...
You can't play the quarterback position and expect to not be criticized. You also can't let that criticism affect your play in a negative way and that's challenging. Coach Dantonio has said to me many times when we've had those heart-to-hearts in his office that the quarterback and the head coach are always going to get the blame, they're going to get too much of it, and they are always going to get the praise and get too much of it. So you can never let praise or criticism get to you. It's a weakness to get caught up in either one. I don't believe it's ever been a struggle for Andrew to handle that criticism, but obviously, you don't want to have to handle it. I think the best way to get it off your back is to play at a level where people can't criticize you. That was always my mindset, that `I'll show you.' I remember when I signed to Michigan State, I was rated by one publication as the lowest rated recruit in the class as a sleeper, as somebody from whom not much was expected and my attitude was `I'll show you.' They bring in Nick Foles and my attitude was `I'll show you.' Nick leaves, they bring in Keith Nichol and my attitude was `I'll show you.' While it wasn't always rosy and they weren't always telling me how good I was, I guess I always used that as a chip on my shoulder and an attitude to keep bringing it and that I'll always keep rising to the occasion. It wasn't easy and I wish it was all rosy but that wasn't the path that I was given and it probably won't be my path going forward. Andrew realizes that and he knows more than anybody that he wants to have a more productive senior year than his junior year. I just believe that with the experience he gained his junior year, along with the experience of his teammates around him, along with a hopefully healthy offensive line, I think all those pieces will come together to give him the senior year he's looking for.