As TCU heads into spring ball, the quarterback competition is a focus. Shawn Robinson, a sophomore from DeSoto looks like the odds-on favorite to start in the fall, especially if Justin Rogers injury keeps him out of contact until the fall.
Robinson started the 2017 Texas Tech game in Lubbock while Kenny Hill sat out due to injury. The game served as Robinson's most extensive playing time of the season, and first, we'd seen of him since his Eagles won the 2016 6A title. We took a look at that small sample size to get a feel for what Robinson brings to the table.
On the day Robinson finished 6-17-85 yards throwing with a score and one sack. He made hay on the ground, rushing ten times for a team-best 113 yards for an 8.4-yard average.
Robinson stands out running the football; he's a big, efficient runner.
Robinson ran a lot of zone read in high school, and you can tell he's comfortable running it at TCU. He rides the mesh point and forces his read to commit. Once the defender crashes, Robinson is able to pull the ball and get upfield.
The key is Robinson gets upfield. He's a one-cut runner who doesn't waste motion; he's north/south. He's not a burner, but he's more explosive because he's direct. He also finishes runs and gives defenders their money's worth with violent use of his arms and shoulders.
Robinson will need to learn to win from the pocket and use his legs as a secondary weapon. Survival as a true dual-threat quarterback exposes you to a lot of punishment and even if you're as big as Robinson is, the cumulative effect of hits in the pocket combined with hit outside the pocket or on designed runs makes life difficult.
Against Texas Tech, in his first start as a collegian, you can see some timing issues. Robinson's clock is a bit off. This happens a lot with first year or first-time starters. In Robinson's case, he doesn't hurry as much as he tends to take time for granted, waiting for a beat longer than he should. That skill comes with reps, something he's getting a lot of this spring.
Let's look at a couple throws:
Here's a play action roll out to the boundary, you can't simulate real live Power 5 defenses, and the speed of the game can catch up in a hurry. Here, Robinson doesn't have a lot of great options. The tight end drag might be available, but he's flushed and forced way wider, quicker than Robinson would like. Robinson chooses to throw the out, and here's where he'll have to learn, college throwing windows close much faster than a Friday night against Mansfield.
This should be a pick, one of a couple of missed opportunities for Tech, more on that later. You want to be sure that if you miss this throw, you miss high and outside. Nothing wrong with an incompletion, you'd just like one that the defense doesn't drop first.
This is a good miss.
Robinson sees man keys from the corners (closed hips, inside leverage) and blitz looks from the outside linebackers. In Cumbie's offense, this is blood in the water; you have to make opponents pay for this aggressiveness and Robinson almost does.
If you're going to miss, miss outside, giving your receiver a chance to win, which almost happens here.
A few general observations about Robinson the thrower, first, his arm strength is clear from the jump. He can get the ball downfield, perhaps more comfortably than he can throw intermediate routes. With great power comes great responsibility, and Robinson seems to know he's got an arm-canon and might be prone to a little Uncle Rico style hubris, but some of that's justified, and you'd rather talk a guy down from some throws than work around a guy who can't make'em.
The other thing we like on is his toughness. When he's got a play to be made downfield, he hangs in with pressure in his face. Fearless. Nailed to the ground.
Ball security issues will get you a trip to the bench faster than anything. Robinson showed a propensity for ball security issues. Robinson leaves a lot of daylight between the ball and his body when he's moving inside the pocket and doesn't use his off hand to protect the ball as he moves. You can take things for granted to make plays at other levels, but Big 12 defenses will hone in on these security issues. In traffic, holding the ball like it's a backyard nerf game will get you in trouble and probably a seat next to Gary Patterson.
You can't write the book on Shawn Robinson based on his performance against Tech, but it does give you an idea of a couple of things, 1) his base skill set and 2) how Cumbie and Patterson adjusted their gameplan to meet his strengths. The Frogs have a nice young quarterback to develop heading into 2018.