December 31, 2007

A Meteoric Rise for ZRob

TEMPE, Ariz. - After starting the season as the No. 2 quarterback, Zac Robinson is heading into a bowl game as Oklahoma State's starting quarterback.

The Cowboys' appearance in today's Insight Bowl against Indiana caps off a wild year for the sophomore from Colorado, who in August was going into the season as the backup for Bobby Reid.

But four months later, it's Robinson who is at the top the depth chart, looking to guide the Pokes to their second-straight bowl victory.

Not that he'll complain, but that situation was hard for him to envision out of the gate.

"I didn't really know what to expect," Robinson said. "Maybe playing 10 plays a game, not really knowing what to expect."

But a change was made and the move turned out to be the right one, as Robinson ended up setting new school records in total offense in a season (3,299 yards), in a single game (486 yards vs. Texas) and passing yards in a game (430 vs. UT).He also had the second-best passing season in Stillwater, throwing for 2,522 yards. And his 777 ground yards helped to legitimatize his emergence as a true double-threat on the field.

"Zac, like most players, has gained valuable knowledge and experience through reps," head coach Mike Gundy said. "Four, five games ago I think he kind of took the team on his shoulders and it became his football team as a quarterback of the offense."

That's not to say the switch from Reid to Robinson was a completely smooth one.

"It was a difficult transition early in the season," Gundy said. "You don't make a change at that position when you have a returning starting who's thrown for 2,500 yards or however many yards that Bobby had thrown for last year (2,266) and had a lot of preseason hype.

"So when you make a change, you have one guy who is trying to develop himself as being the leader of the offense and then also trying to improve as a player. Zac's made strides. Zac is very disciplined and a hard-working football player that carries himself in the right way and has led our offensive football team the last few weeks and we played pretty well. He has made the transition just through reps and experience."

"Quarterbacks always get better from game to game, and it's a comfort deal," Robinson said. "It is a lot of things. I think I've just felt more and more comfortable every week with what we're doing in the offense. And I know what's going on and everybody else around me has helped me out a whole lot. That's had a lot to do with it."

And while Robinson is quick to share his successful season with those around him, his coach says his performance in 2007 is directed tied to his attitude.

"Zac is very mature and handles himself very well," Gundy said. "He had worked really hard the last couple of years. For those of you that had followed us very close, you were aware that he was ready to play. A couple times Bobby was injured and he went in and played very well.

"Each of these players (on the team) are different in how they handle themselves mentally. Some are more mature. Zac has always been able to handle himself, so that wasn't an area of concern."

If there's a concern at all in regards to Robinson, it's from the opposing sideline. IU head coach Bill Lynch likes what he has seen out of him and compares him to their own talented signal-caller, Kellen Lewis.

"(Robinson is) very similar to Kellen in that he is such a threat," Lynch said. "They feature the option more than we do and obviously the quarterback is such an important part of the option. He also runs the spread, ride-and-decide type play where - depending on the read - he will pull it and run. He is a threat now. He runs the ball very well and he is a good passer. In that sense, he is very similar to Kellen. You have got to account for him."

And if the Hoosiers have trouble accounting for him, Robinson might top off his meteoric season with a bowl championship.

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