Redskins' Kirk Cousins praises Connor Cook after Rose Bowl

David Goldman / Associated Press
Redskins QB Kirk Cousins was Michigan State's QB from 2009-2011 and was a fourth-round pick in 2012.

PASADENA, Calif. -- Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins gave his alma mater, Michigan State, a pregame speech in the locker room and ended up with a Rose Bowl champions hat atop his head three hours later.

"Just so excited to have a front-row seat to watch it happen tonight," Cousins said. "We earned the right to be here. I say 'we' -- I don't know how much I did."

Cousins had nothing but praise for Spartans quarterback Connor Cook, who was named offensive most valuable player of the Rose Bowl after throwing for a career-high 332 yards and two touchdowns, the game-winner coming on a 25-yard pass to Tony Lippett with 13:22 left in the fourth quarter.

"I think he did a lot of good things," Cousins said. "He's still a young quarterback. He still has two big years ahead of him. He's done a lot of good things to give the Spartan fans a lot of excitement in the future."

Cook also shook off an ugly turnover late in the first half, throwing a ball directly to Cardinal outside linebacker Kevin Anderson for a 40-yard interception that was returned for a touchdown.

"It's part of playing the game," Cousins said. "You have to have a short memory. He did a great job. The team did a great job of never giving up."

NFL Exposure

Top NFL players from Michigan State

Michigan State has produced many outstanding football players: Take a look at the top ex-Spartans currently in the NFL.

And while Cook has plenty of time to continue to develop, Cousins said that starting the final three games of the season for the Redskins gave him a good foundation from which to continue his own progression.

Cousins threw for 747 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions for Washington, completing 53 percent of his passes in losses to the Falcons, Cowboys and Giants.

"I did a lot of good things," he said. "I think there are some thing I will go back and look at and see I need to get better at, but that's the best part about being able to play in those games, is you can see what you need to improve upon. You can be critical about your play."

"Hopefully, one day I'll get the chance to be a starter."

That opportunity will not come under Mike Shanahan, who was fired Monday, but Cousins seems to be taking the uncertainty of his next head coach in stride.

"In the NFL, I wouldn't say you know what is going on a lot of the time," Cousins said. "It is an uncertain place to have a job. The coaching staff got let go and that's tough to see, but they will hire a staff, they'll do the right thing there and I'm going to do all I can as a player to be ready to go."

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.