Friday, December 18, 2009
Cousins tries to regroup Spartans for bowl
By ESPN.com staff ESPN.com
If only quarterback Kirk Cousins had known, he could have stopped them.
Kirk Cousins says the Spartans like the underdog role they've assumed for the Valero Alamo Bowl.
As a co-captain for Michigan State, Cousins would have stepped in and tried to prevent his teammates from going to a residence hall shortly after the team banquet on Nov. 22. But like Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio and many others, Cousins had no idea what was about to take place.
An alleged assault at the residence hall has resulted in the dismissals of running back Glenn Winston and safety Roderick Jenrette, as well as the suspensions of 11 other players. Nine players face assault and conspiracy charges and none will travel with Michigan State to the Valero Alamo Bowl, where it will face Texas Tech on Jan. 2.
"That reflects on you as a leader," Cousins told me Friday. "When guys on the team are not necessarily acting the way you want them to, the blame can fall on you. It points back to, 'Who are the leaders and where are they at a time like that?' It's not the first time we've faced adversity this season. It certainly won't be the last, and we're just going to keep growing from it.
"But it tests me as a leader in making sure I'm doing my job the right way."
Cousins certainly second-guessed things after finding out what had happened at Rather Hall.
"That's going to go through your mind, how easily it could have been prevented if someone had just shared information openly," he said. "But at the same time, there's 105 guys on this team and you can't be everywhere at once. But I do feel the chemistry on this team is very good, compared to other teams I've been on, so it was a little surprising in that sense."
The captains didn't hold a players-only meeting to address the incident, leaving it to Dantonio and the coaches. But Cousins has been pleased with the team's performance in bowl practices so far.
Few are giving a shorthanded Spartans team much of a chance against Texas Tech, but Cousins and his teammate don't mind being the underdogs.
"There's no pressure on us," Cousins said. "There aren't great expectations on us, and I'm kind of used to that. I don't think a whole lot of people expected much out of me when I came here, and I don't think a lot of people expected things out of Michigan State.
"I like having that back-against-the-wall mentality."