Cooper Rush, the quiet killer tasked with keeping the Cowboys afloat without Dak Prescott

Hours after he took responsibility for Dak Prescott’s injury in the first week, a former college classmate at Cooper Rush texted him. Rush had just transitioned from a long backup to QB1 for the Dallas Cowboys within moments as news of Prescott’s thumb injury seriousness spread across the Twitterverse.

But apparently Rush wasn’t too interested in this when he texted his friend again.

“Hey man,” former Central Michigan Jesse Kroll texted Rush. “I am very pleased with the opportunity that you have!”

“Thank you,” Rush sent a clear text message. “How’s your father’s life going?”

Rush completely ignored what is arguably the biggest moment of his professional football career for asking Kroll about his two-month-old. Rush is now the starting quarterback for the country’s most popular soccer team and the world’s most important professional sports franchise. But instead of talking about it, he wanted to hear about Kroll’s life and offer some advice after Rush became a father just 18 months ago.

Don’t mistake Rush’s indifference. He understands the role you’re getting into: After the first week’s loss to the Tampa Bay Pirates, Rush said he “must make things click as if 4 [Prescott] he was there. “

But that balance is exactly what Kroll experienced during his five years with Rush in Central Michigan as well. Kroll describes Rush as simply “a normal midwestern dad who’s kind-spoken but carries a big stick” by letting his actions do most of the talking. Now he’s the Cowboys quarterback until Prescott’s return.

“He’s kind of that quiet killer where he doesn’t say much, but when he says something, it’s, like, really under your skin,” Kroll said. “Sometimes it’s not a great story because he’s not the guy who drops some great talk at halftime and is different in different games. But he’s very level and even tends to panic on you and calm you down if you’re, you know, in a panic.”

‘Knows what to do’

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Shaquille Barrett (58) presses on Dallas Cowboys quarterback Cooper Rush as he throws a pass in the second half of an NFL football game in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, September 11, 2022 (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Nobody is panicking more than the Cowboys right now after the quarterback lost their franchise. Although Prescott’s surgery went well, coach Mike McCarthy recently said He will undergo a 7-10 day recovery processIt’s not clear exactly how long the Cowboys will be without him. Original reports speculated on a six to eight week timeline of his injury.

I’ve been here in Dallas before with Rush. Last year, Week 8 began during Sunday night’s climax game against the Minnesota Vikings when Prescott sat down with a calf injury. Rush put in a pretty solid performance: He completed 60 percent of his passes for 325 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-16 win that included eight plays and 75 yards in the last minute that resulted in the touchdown to receive Amari Cooper.

Prior to that game, the Vikings got a quick scouting report on Rush from one of his former CMU teammates – end court Tyler Conklin, who played four seasons in Minnesota before signing with the New York Jets in 2022. Conklin compared Rush to, oddly enough , Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins ​​as someone who has a generally calm demeanor but can explode when called upon.

“He knows what he has to do,” Conklin said of Rush. “He can do all the throws on the court. He’s sneaky enough athletic to get out there and take you down first with his legs, and he’s moving in and out of the pocket and throwing the field.

“He’s a hell of a footballer and I think he’s going to really impress people in the next couple of weeks.”

That was just one match. This time around, he’ll have to hold things a little longer and with the Cowboys objectively weaker. The team traded Cooper, letting Cedric Wilson walk into free agency and firing La’el Collins’ tackle. Correct tackle Tyron Smith is out for the foreseeable future also due to a knee injury.

Rush wasn’t amazing in the 16 shots he played in the first week when Prescott also left. He completed 7 of 13 attempts for 64 yards and took Kissin for his lead late in the fourth quarter for a 19-3 loss.

Even so, the Cowboys front desk, coaches, and players seem to believe in Rush. Dallas reportedly has no plans to acquire another starter-caliber quarterback, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, although there are players like San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in the trade block. Rush’s knowledge of the crime after playing with the Cowboys since 2017 is a major part of that. Since signing as a non-drafted free agent, he’s been a consistent member of the quarterback throughout the tenure of offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Rush was even Moore’s teammate when they were both backup in 2017.

“Coop has been here for a long time,” Moore said Monday. “I think he knows who he is as a player. His behavior is very good. He deals with the ups and downs that go through mentally during a season, a game. I think we are fortunate to have a guy like that in our case.”

Central Michigan, Cooper Rush prepares for a pass against Tulsa in the second half of a Miami Beach Bowl NCAA football game, Monday, December 19, 2016, in Miami.  (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Cooper Rush played for Central Michigan before signing with the Dallas Cowboys as an unrestricted free agent in 2017 (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Rush’s “Quietness”

Arguably the most violent moment in Rush’s football career came in the 2014 Bahamas Bowl against Western Kentucky.

Team Rush in central Michigan was staring at a near-insurmountable 35-point deficit before the fourth quarter. But Rush put Chippewas back with five touchdown passes and cut the lead to one point in the final 15-minute frame, including a stunning multi-touch pass at the end of regulation. A failed two-point conversion ended the comeback, but Rush left the game with an FBS ball game record at the time of seven touchdown assists (now linked with Joe Burrow).

But Rush did not energize his teammates with emotional announcements or loud celebrations. He just stood in the pool, threw the play call, broke the pool and went to work as if it were any other play.

Coincidentally, Rush played a huge role in else Second final Hill Mary plays two years later against Oklahoma State. Rush sent a pass through an unfettered pass to Kroll, who sent the ball to teammate Corey Willis at the nine-yard line. Willis ran to reach the – albeit controversial – landing.

“He was kind of just a fearless player,” former CMU center Nick Beamish recalls. “He was always balanced. He was a ‘never up, never down’ kind of player, I think even on the biggest stage, which we saw last year. [against the Vikings]I think it’s still the same. It’s intensity, but it’s a calm intensity and high expectations from everyone around him that they maintain the same mentality.”

The Cowboys will need that calm to get their season back on track against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 2. Critics will point to Rush’s lack of sporting experience and performance, but his old college teammates believe he makes up for it with preparation and consistency.

“[The Cowboys] It’s one of the leading sports organizations in the world,” Beamish said. “Like, they don’t do things on a whim. There are definitely reasons why they keep it. I think he knows what their expectations are. And I think he’s so self-confident that he can live up to them.”

Those expectations, like Rush’s character, aren’t unreasonably high or painfully low either. By his own standards, it is simple and achievable:

“Just go and do your thing,” Rush said. “Just do. It’s the same plays, it’s the same other guys, we still have everyone. I trust these guys, they trust me, they just all come together as a group and do the playing and the execution.”


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