Michigan State quarterback, co-offensive coordinator break down Alabama defense

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Kelly Ward

DALLAS — It’s hard to miss A’Shawn Robinson or Jarran Reed walking around. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook certainly didn’t as he passed by the Alabama defensive linemen on his way into the press conference.

“I think they’re everything you want in a D-line,” Cook said Monday. “They’ve got the depth. And obviously, the talent. The talent is there. Everyone sees that. They’ve got the size. They’ve got the speed, athleticism, everything you want. And it’s, obviously, going to be a challenge, and we’re ready for it.”

Cook has started 12 games (he missed the Ohio State game due to a shoulder injury). He has completed 56.9 percent of his 369 pass attempts and only thrown five interceptions.

The Spartans’ run game accounts for nearly 161 yards per game and 24 of the team’s 50 offensive touchdowns.

“We’re excited to play against Alabama, the defensive line especially,” offensive tackle Jack Conklin said. “The big thing for them is how much depth they have. They’ll play about 11 defensive linemen throughout the game, which is huge. You don’t see that in college football. That’s three deep playing.”

Alabama’s defense has held opponents to 74 yards rushing per game, best in the nation. It’s conceded six rushing touchdowns and 13 receiving touchdowns.

Opponents average just over 184 yards passing a game against Alabama and just 258.2 yards per game.

In preparation for the matchup, Michigan State has looked at game tape of teams who run a pro-style offense against Alabama. It’s looked at everything. It’s looked at the plays Ole Miss ran with success, even the plays that can’t be duplicated like the tipped pass for a touchdown.

“But we’ve looked at everything and tried to find ways to exploit Alabama,” said Michigan State co-offensive coordinator Dave Warner. “And I’m not sure we found any. I think you have to again try and run the football. But in the pass game, they play great man-to-man coverage in third down as well. They play a little bit 2 and two-man, and they’re hard to shake.”