'Levelheaded' Robinson Moves Into Starting QB Role For Cowboys

Thursday, September 20th 2007, 7:28 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Larry Fedora is in his third season of coaching Zac Robinson, and he still has difficulty sometimes getting an accurate read on the quarterback's mood.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, Fedora said while explaining how the 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore has the right temperament to be the Cowboys' new starting quarterback.

``He's very low-key. Nothing excites him. Nothing gets him too worried,'' Fedora said of Robinson, who will make his second career start on Saturday when Oklahoma State (1-2) hosts Big 12 Conference rival Texas Tech (3-0).

``It's a great demeanor for a quarterback. He's just pretty levelheaded about everything.''

Robinson's confident-but-not-cocky attitude seems to have helped ease what easily could have been _ and still might be _ a messy quarterback switch. Robinson became Oklahoma State's starter last week in a 41-23 loss at Troy after junior Bobby Reid, who had started since his freshman season, struggled in the Cowboys' first two games.

Reid suffered undisclosed minor injuries in the first quarter of the second game, against Florida Atlantic. Robinson entered and ignited what had been a sluggish offense, leading three straight touchdown drives in the second and third quarters. Those scored helped turn a 14-6 game into a 42-6 rout, and Robinson finished 14-of-20 passing for 250 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.

It was Robinson's second ace relief performance. Last Oct. 21 against No. 23 Texas A&M, in his first extended action, Robinson replaced an injured Reid and went 7-of-16 passing for 94 yards and three touchdowns on a cold night in a 34-33 overtime loss that ended on a blocked extra point.

Robinson's performance in that game earned him more playing time, and Oklahoma State coaches developed plans during the offseason to use him more, up to 25 or 30 snaps a game either at quarterback or wide receiver.

``I was just glad to help out the team whichever way I could,'' said Robinson, who also alternated between quarterback and receiver while at Chatfield High School in Littleton, Colo. ``... I was just excited to get the opportunity.''

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy played coy last week as the Cowboys prepared to travel to play Troy, but Robinson said he learned early that week that he'd be the starting quarterback against the Trojans.

``I'd always hoped that I would (be the starter), and after the Florida Atlantic game, I kind of had maybe a feeling that it would happen,'' Robinson said. ``When he told me ... it didn't really hit me until maybe a couple of days later when I was studying film. I was saying, 'Hey, I'm going to be taking the first snap of the game.' It was definitely a lot of excitement.''

But even in that excitement, he felt for Reid, his roommate when the Cowboys are on the road and with whom he often compares notes.

``We're both out here competing every day,'' Robinson said. ``No matter who's in there, we're both going to have each other's back. When I'm out there, I'm going to tell him what I see and he's going to tell me what he sees.''

Robinson completed 18-of-37 passes for 191 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions against Troy. Fedora and Gundy have said Robinson will remain the Cowboys' quarterback for the foreseeable future.

Robinson's coaches and teammates say the quarterback switch has not been a divisive issue within the team and that they have confidence in his ability.

``Even last year, Zac used to come in there and we looked at him the same way we looked at Bobby,'' sophomore offensive tackle Russell Okung said. ``He has confidence in his eyes.''

Okung cited Robinson's performance against Texas A&M last season.

``That was one of my first games, too, and I still had that look in my eye (of a) young pup,'' Okung said. ``Zac came out there, and we didn't take a step back. We didn't expect to take a step back, because our coaches prepare for things like that.''

Robinson might not have shown it, but he admits now he ``didn't really know what to expect'' when he entered that game against Texas A&M. ``But we ended up moving the ball well and scoring some points and we were in position to win the football game, but unfortunately we didn't,'' he said.

After that experience, Robinson said he developed more confidence in his ability to lead the Cowboys.

``I can get fired up,'' he said. ``I try to play with a lot of enthusiasm. That's something that has always come natural to me. ... I don't let a whole lot of things bother me.

``I'm just going to go out week to week and do what I can to help this team win and help the offense get back on the right track.''