Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks has so far proven that he’s more than capable of carrying the load as the Beavers No. 1 target. Heading into Saturday’s game at San Diego State, he ranks first in the country in receiving touchdowns (7) and receptions (29) and he’s second in receiving yards (498). And quarterback Sean Mannion has done a great job getting him the ball. Cooks has been targeted 32 times -- giving Mannion a 90-percent completion percentage when he looks to Cooks. The receiver took a few minutes this week to chat with the Pac-12 blog.
Do you get the sense that this team is getting its footing back after what happened in Week 1?
Brandin Cooks: Definitely. After that, we felt like we had a lot to prove, which we did. That lit our fire. We’re ready to go and get this thing back on pace like it should be.
That loss could have sunk you guys and set a real negative tone for the season. But you bounced back to beat Hawaii and Utah in overtime. How proud are you of this team’s resiliency.
BC: The resiliency with this group is amazing. I go back to my freshman year when we lost to an [FCS] team and we had a bad season. This time, the captains and the guys who were on that team weren’t going to let that happen this year. When we had that loss, we went back to work. We know who we are. And Week 1 wasn’t who we are.
In terms of momentum, how much do you guys have coming off of that overtime win?
BC: I feel like we have a lot of momentum. A lot of confidence. That’s what you need in this game. It’s good to have that going into the week and going down to San Diego and keep building on win after win. To have that confidence and momentum and knowing that we’ve got guys that will not lay down no matter the situation is a good thing for our team.
You’re putting up fantastic numbers so far. What’s different about your game this year?
BC: To be honest, I feel like I’m bigger and stronger and faster than I was last year. I’m a smarter player this year. I’m learning to read defenses and picking up on little things better than I did last year. Then you’ve got someone like Sean Mannion that is playing lights out right now. He has a lot to do with my success.
Since you brought up Sean, talk about what he’s been able to do so far. Just a few weeks ago we didn’t know if he would be the starter.
BC: He’s been amazing so far. Once he was named the starter, I could see in his eyes that he had that same confidence that he had the first four weeks last year. He’s working hard. He’s working his tail off. The best part of his game this year is being a great leader.
One of the things Markus Wheaton always talked about was studying defenses and tendencies. What are some of the things you learned playing alongside him the last couple of years that you’re applying to your game now?
BC: His football IQ is off the charts. The things he would look for when watching film were things I never would have thought to look for. Learning underneath him helped my game and it’s helping me teach others. By him being here, he was that role model and that extra coach on the side to teach me some things I didn’t know.
Coach [Mike] Riley is coming back down to Qualcomm Stadium this weekend. He joked he doesn’t have many good memories from when he was the Chargers coach. Does he talk about his time in the NFL much?
BC: Not really. Sometimes when we have team meetings and he’s telling a story, he’ll talk about being back in San Diego. But he doesn’t really bring it up that often.
What’s something about you that would surprise people?
BC: I can sing. I love to sing.
When are you doing this? Pregame, just walking around campus? During practice?
BC: I sing all over the place. In the locker room. Pregame. Ask my teammates. They wouldn’t be shocked about that.
What are you singing?
BC: R&B most of the time. I like Michael Jackson.
Old-school Michael or the later stuff?
BC: Old-school Michael. I love the old stuff.