Cousins is special and has the opportunity to leave MSU as the best ever. Photo courtesy of Bill Marklevits.

 

2011 Spartan Nation Football Profile: #8 QB Kirk Cousins

Expectation:  Starting QB

Height:   6’3 ½”

Weight:  208

2011 Eligibility: 5th year senior

EXP:  2 letters

Status:  Starting QB

Strengths:  Cousins has all of the tools.  He leads from the front.  I had one long time and well-respected NFL member of a team’s management tell me this after observing him.  “Watch him in the Alabama and Iowa game.  Those were two blowout losses and the entire game, in or out, as the QB he leads.  He encourages.  When the defense gives up a long drive he is over there rooting them on.  When a receiver runs the wrong route he doesn’t show him up.  He goes to the sideline and gets on him.  That kid can make all the throws, is super smart, and is a born leader.” 

Cousins’s leadership sets him apart.  He never gets down.  When he is playing well and the defense struggles he is an encourager.  The only time you see him fired up mad is at himself.  His arm is gigantic and he isn’t afraid to make the big throw. 

Here is a great example of his talent.  Against Notre Dame in the 2nd quarter there was 2:26 left in the half and the Spartans had a 3rd and goal.  With an empty backfield set, Cousins threaded the needle with a pinpoint perfect pass between three defenders for the pass.  It had to be perfect and there was no margin for error.  He nailed it.

Weakness:  Cousins has two weaknesses.  The first actually comes out of one of his strengths.  Because he has such a monster arm, he sometimes has so much faith in that arm that he makes unadvisable throws away from himself.  Most are off a back foot, but some are not.  He has to be careful throwing away from his body with those passes.

His interceptions are killers and cost points.  One NFL scout told me, “He really needs some better coaching to fix that.  It is fixable.  He doesn’t strike me as an uncoachable kid, so if he can get it I don’t see that as a long term issue.”

Cousins needs to learn that throwing the ball away or taking a sack is a loss of a down, but better sometimes than the alternative.  His footwork can at times be his Achilles heel too.  He is doing extra work this summer with Peyton and Eli Manning and others proving that he is always trying to improve.

An example is against Notre Dame this time in the 2nd quarter with 12:20 to play and MSU at the Irish red zone.  Cousins dropped back to pass with a ton of time.  He threw away from his body and gave the Irish an interception in the end zone.  Those mistakes, especially taking sure points off the board, can’t happen this season.

Final Analysis:  As one NFL scout told me, “Cousins’s best weapon is his brain.”  Cousins is a natural leader who has all of the tools to be great in college and at the next level.  Considered by the experts a top 15 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, Cousins is back for his final season with big expectations.  Cousins has a chance of leaving MSU as the greatest QB ever in the illustrious program.  He isn’t there yet, but he is among the elite.  A better person than a player makes him awfully special.

Next up:  DT Jerel Worthy.