Rudock v. Cook: common opponents in 2013 and 2014

Submitted by Dawkins on July 24th, 2015 at 1:58 PM

I've been getting a little tired of the media praising Connor Cook as one of the top QBs in the conference while discussing how Michigan's QB situation is in trouble. 

Any of you who have looked at Rudock's and Cook's respective 2013 and 2014 stats know that they put up pretty similar numbers on a seasonal basis (albeit with a slight edge to Cook). I decided to go a step further and look at all of their common opponents during the 2013 and 2014 seasons to see how they fared. I've color-coded the QB that had the better QB rating in each game.  I'll let you draw your own conclusions, but here are a few basic points:

- They played 9 common opponents during 2013 and 2014: 6 in 2013, and 3 in 2014.

- Rudock had the better QB rating in 6 of those games, while Cook had the better QB rating in 3 of the games.

- In all 3 matchups where Cook has the edge, Rudock also played well against the same opponent, but the reverse isn't true (see Minnesota, WMU, and both Nebraska games). 

- Cook is probably best known for his 2013 performance against Ohio State in the BTTG. Cook had better stats than Rudock against OSU, but Rudock was not far behind (despite having to play them in Value City Horseshoe Stadium). 

I guess my biggest takeaway from this is that the sky is most definitely NOT falling for Michigan with Rudock as our probable starter. Far from it. If MSU can have success with a "game manager" at QB, then so can we. Also, HARBAUGH.

Note: while the QBs' respective ratings in the 2014 Maryland and Nebraska games might appear to be a sloppy copy/paste job due to them being the same, they are in fact correct. In both games, Rudock had a 112.9 and Cook had a 110.2. 



July 24th, 2015 at 2:10 PM ^

I know results are the only thing that matters to an extent, but Cook has a lot more of the NFL qualities that are sought in QBs and that's why he's getting so much hype. An analysis like this would probably reflect poorly on Hackenberg but he's probably the most talented QB in the Big Ten


July 24th, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

In my opinion, his biggest "NFL quality" is that he has a stellar defense keeping him in games. Give him Iowa's defense, and whats his record over the past two years..and his projected draft status?


Edit: In all fairness to Cook, he makes some very clutch throws, but in my opinion nothing I've seen from him warrants first round draft pick status. Let's not forget that this is a guy who couldn't beat out Andrew Maxwell for the starting job in 2012 and early 2013. Normally if you have first round talent at QB on your roster, the coaches are going to spot it pretty easily. 


July 24th, 2015 at 4:03 PM ^

Agree on this one so much.

Literally saw a pass go thru a DBs hands and into a MSU WR for a TD vs Illinois I believe it was in 2013.  Stanford dropped 2 passes into the chest - every MSU game it seems he gets 2+ drops of sure INTs.  Must throw hard.

Reality is Cook has a low compl% for a college QB but has a quick release, ability to completely forget shitty plays (which is a big advantage many QBs dont have) and will come back and make a good one, and throws really well off the run IMO (better then in the pocket where he has stance issues).  He also has great size and decent mobility for that size. 

He also is very good on 3rd downs just from an anecodotal standpoint.  Can't back it up with stats but he seems to make the play when needed.  That offsets his pattern of overthrowing an open guy in the flat for an easy toss on 2nd and 8.

I wouldnt call him poor man's Henne but poor man's Rothelisberger.  Another QB accused of living off great defenses for big wins - big, mobile, strong arm, not high completion % early in NFl career.  Also what Russell Wilson is accused of.

He is a gamer.... and he was counted on to do a lot more in 2014 v 2013.  He had a better 2014 than Rudock while I assume the 2 were very comparable in 2013.

One caveat - Cook has had EXCELLENT pass protect the past 2 years.  The emergence of the MSU OL gets lost in their defensive prowess.  I bet in 90% of his games he doesnt even have a grass stain.  If you threw Cook behind UM or PSU's OL the past 2 years he'd be LOL PTSD just like the QBs who have played behind those lines.

Yostbound and Down

July 24th, 2015 at 2:38 PM ^

Statistics are one point of reference for scouts. Look at Winston. His interceptions soared this last year and by pretty much every stat he was significantly worse not only than his freshman year but also Mariotta. "First-round talent" is essentially meaningless, and I am also of the mind that Cook is a bit overrated... but he's  rightfully considered a better quarterback than Rudock right now.


July 24th, 2015 at 2:50 PM ^

First, it remains to be seen whether Winston was a legit first round talent. He could turn out to be a bust, but you're point is well taken. Second, I'm not arguing that Rudock is the better QB. My beef is that the relative praise (or lackthereof, in Rudock's case) they each receive is not backed up by the data. Not even close. Cook is not nearly as dominant as popular opinion suggests, and Rudock is better than people give him credit for. 

Yostbound and Down

July 24th, 2015 at 3:37 PM ^

I'm glad you did the exercise and I appreciate the research. I just don't think coming in looking to find data to prove Rudock is a better QB than Cook is a great approach. Also, talking about talent, of course it remains to be seen how good Winston will be, or Cook, or Rudock in Michigan's system...the point is Winston was valued as the top pick in football last year by neutral parties (NFL teams) taking into account statistics, quality/differences in competition between conferences, observation, etc. I don't think Cook is as good as any of the OSU quarterbacks and I think Hackenberg probably does have better athleticism and talent. I also think Cook is still a better QB than Rudock.

Your takeaway however is good and accurate. 

Last edit: tacky upvoting your own post, baud.


July 25th, 2015 at 1:13 PM ^

"I just don't think coming in looking to find data to prove Rudock is a better QB than Cook is a great approach."

That's most certainly NOT what I did. I was aware that Connor Cook had medicore stats despite the level of praise he receives, and I saw someone post something on another forum showing that Rudock's and Cook's SEASONAL stats were pretty similar. But I thought to myself, "Yeah, but how do we know Rudock's stats aren't padded by games against non conference opponents?" So I looked at their common opponents expecting Cook's stats to be better, and I was surprised to find that they aren't. Then after I saw YET ANOTHER article about how dominant of a QB Cook is, I got fed up and decided to share what I had learned with the board. 



July 24th, 2015 at 2:16 PM ^

That's kind of impressive when you also factor in that Cook had a superior defense and better OL to work with than Rudock.

Rudock's stats behind a horrible OL ala-Michigan are already a pleasant surprise. I'll honestly be shocked if he isn't the starter this Fall.

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July 24th, 2015 at 2:19 PM ^

Cook should've bolted for the NFL last year and collected his "clipboard" check.  He might be the most overrated QB in the game.  


July 24th, 2015 at 2:22 PM ^

This is great! Very excite to see Rudock under center with our stable of running backs and talented (yet unproven) wideouts. Not to mention Butt in the slot and over the middle. We have a real chance to surprise this year, especially with an improved o-line.


July 24th, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

If you weight completion percentage over YPA (trying to adjust for differences in the quality of the rest of the team) and look at differences in qb rating between the two...stats say Rudock should be right on par with Cook, if not better. Cook beat Rudock significantly only when comparing NW and Indiana, two awful teams that are completely outclassed by msu, but are competitive with Iowa.


July 24th, 2015 at 2:34 PM ^

Very nice analysis here, and thanks for posting it.

I think some of the cumulative stats speak for themselves with Rudock, which is another reason I really don't understand some of the uneasiness surrrounding him being the probable starter (I base this only on past performance, of course). In two years, he completed 60.3% of his passes and threw for over 2,300 yards both times and could be counted on for the occasional rushing TD (very occasional, usually goal line in a fashion only Iowa could manage). In terms of of QB rating overall, comparable to Gardner but Rudock is someone that seems to fight right into what Harbaugh would like to do, so that might help quite a bit (also, surrounding talent and coaching).


July 24th, 2015 at 2:51 PM ^

It's really sad that two quarterbacks from the same conference only had 3 common opponents in 2014. When that's the case, can you really call it a conference? It's more like two separate divisions that have a conference championship game to see who gets to play in the CFP. It's really just a quarterfinal game in the playoff.

kevin holt

July 24th, 2015 at 2:52 PM ^

Something I notice that could or could not be important: in only one of those matchups did Rudock have fewer interceptions. Probably nothing, but maybe.

if we combine the two they'll be either Rudook or... Cock


July 24th, 2015 at 4:19 PM ^

I dont think Cook is not aggressive.  And really are you going to say any QB relative to Iowa is non aggressive?  That might be one of the least aggressive offenses in the country.

Cook's YPA went up from 7.25 as a 1st year starter to 8.81 as a 2nd year starter.  That's a huge jump and doesnt signify a low risk QB.  The absolute # of 8.81 is also huge.

By comparison Rudock's 2013 YPA was 6.9 and only popped to 7.1

8.8 ypa would (without looking) be top 10 nationally for any QB in a P5.

Put another way Rudock completed 1 more pass than Cook but passed for 800 yards less. 


The Geek

July 24th, 2015 at 6:26 PM ^

has been dreadful. With the exception of 2009 Ferentz has been an average coach since 2004.

That  2009 squad had Bryan Baluga, Pat Angerer, Amari Spievey and 3 other NFL draft picks. 

I'm surprised he still has his job. 

I'm confident Rudock will be a terrific stop-gap until 2016. Going into next season is going to be very exciting -- I can't wait to see Peters, Viramontes, Gentry and Malzone competing.


July 25th, 2015 at 1:21 PM ^

Yup. He'll be a 4th-year guy in 2016, and the yardage he put up as a freshman (3,117)  would put him at #2 on Michigan's all time single season passing yardage record list, right behind Navarre (3,331, in 2003). Granted, it was in a smaller conference, but the kid can play. There's no way in the world a true freshman comes in and beats him out. Gentry could have a shot at him though. 


July 24th, 2015 at 2:53 PM ^

Are the QB ratings for the Maryland and Nebraska games correct? They are exactly the same, making me think one's a copy and paste typo.

Ricky from Sunnyvale

July 24th, 2015 at 3:05 PM ^

Cook is one of the best QBs in the conference and the nation, facts be facts. Cook also had one of the nations best defenses as well. I get he is the enemy but it seems people are bashing him purely for that. I hope if Jake wins the job he plays well, but if he is to be compared to Cook he has to make a big leap. 

I wonder if some of you guys think you know more than NFL scouts, or are just completely biased.

Space Coyote

July 24th, 2015 at 3:16 PM ^

But in 2014 MSU had the 6th best passing offense (opponent adjusted) and Iowa had the 58th best. Stats lie (Rudock had the 54th best passer rating last year, Cook was 19th; Rudock's non-con wasn't murderer's row compared to MSU's).  This shows that Rudock isn't some scrub of a QB and can play good games, but (and this will come across as know-it-all), the eye test is easily in Cook's favor.

People calling him a game manager are wrong, at least for 2014 (he was in 2013 until the BTT). He hits some impressive throws, makes a lot of really good throws, and makes some bad ones too. I don't think he's quite as good as Henne was, but I view him as a pick up in the first 3 rounds at least, most likely in the first two (depending on the talent around him, Henne would have gone earlier if it not been a relatively deep draft in 2008). He's in that same category, especially now that "pro-style" offenses are becoming fewer and fewer. And remember, Cook doesn't have the advantage of throwing a ton of screens. Iowa throws more screens than MSU actually. Cook's numbers aren't propped up by a lot of bubble screens and such.

Cook hasn't played very well against Michigan, and I get the feeling that most Michigan fans are basing their opinion of Cook based on that, watching him briefly in the background of other games, and bias. Cook is a good player, I think it's time for Michigan fans to stop living in denial about that and searching for excuses to why most others view him as a good QB prospect; admitting he's a good QB doesn't make you less of a fan.