FSU hopes experience helps against Robinson
Published: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 1, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
He's a big, athletic quarterback who can scramble better than some running backs. Make him stay put, he'll pick you apart with his arm.
Michael Robinson? Sure sounds like him. But the description fits Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick, too, and the Florida State Seminoles are hoping their success against Vick will carry over when they play Robinson and No. 3 Penn State in the Orange Bowl on Tuesday night.
"They're very much alike. The biggest difference is that Robinson is a little bit stronger," Seminoles defensive back Kyler Hall said. "He played running back before, so he's not afraid to dip that shoulder and run you over. Just like we did against Vick, we have to contain him and make him one-dimensional, where he just throws the ball."
The Seminoles harassed Vick all night long in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship, sacking him six times - four in the first half alone - and picking him off once on the way to a 27-22 upset.
Vick did throw for one score and ran for two more in the fourth quarter, but it was too late.
"Playing a guy like Vick or the guy from Virginia (Marques Hagans), you've got to have him contained," linebacker Buster Davis said. "You have to stick to your assignments, or he'll beat you."
As tough as Vick is to stop, though, Robinson could be even more dangerous. In his first year of playing quarterback full-time, he finished fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
Vick will scramble, but he does it to get himself in position to throw. Robinson split his time between quarterback, receiver and running back his first three years, so if he sees an opening, he'll take off and good luck trying to catch up to him.
Watch out if you get in his way, too. Two of Robinson's best friends are defensive end Matthew Rice and cornerback Alan Zemaitis, and he can deliver a hit that would make either proud. When Minnesota cornerback Brandon Owens tried to stop him at the 12-yard earlier this year, Robinson knocked him flat and out of the game.
"We played a quarterback at Virginia Tech who was the same way and we were able to hem him up. I don't know if we want to hem him up, he may run you over like a bull if you try that," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.
Robinson's 785 yards rushing this year were second-highest for the Nittany Lions, ninth-best in the entire Big Ten. His average of 5.4 yards per carry would be the envy of most tailbacks. He scored 11 touchdowns on the ground, including a 33-yard scamper against Michigan State.
"Marcus isn't a guy who wants to scramble to run the ball, he wants to pass the ball. This guy is all about running the ball," Davis said. "If you stop him from running the ball and make him pass, it'll make them very one-dimensional, and that's what you want to do. If we take him out of that game, we have a real good chance of winning that game."
Not so fast. Robinson also threw for 2,097 yards and 16 scores. In Penn State's comeback victory over Northwestern, considered by most to be the turning point in the season, Robinson kept the game-winning drive alive by converting a fourth-and-15 with 1:39 left.
Six plays later, he connected with Derrick Williams on the 36-yard game-winner.
"He's more of a running back at the quarterback position. At the same time, he can throw the ball really well," linebacker Ernie Sims said. "We're going to have to step on his toes."
That's not going to be easy, either. Florida State's defensive depth was already thin because of injuries to cornerbacks Antonio Cromartie and Gerard Ross (knees). Now the Seminoles have to make do without leading tackler and weakside linebacker A.J. Nicholson, who was sent home Thursday amid sexual assault allegations.
Worse, Nicholson's backup, Marcello Church, is out with a broken leg.
Davis will shift to the outside from the middle, and his backup, Sam McGrew, will move up. But the Seminoles will have to rely on true freshman Geno Hayes to be Davis' backup.
Another true freshman, Nicholson's brother Derek, will probably spell McGrew in the middle.
"We're going to play these games in 2006. By that I mean, they're not freshmen anymore," linebackers coach Kevin Steele said Saturday. "When you play a freshman in the first or second game of the year, you kind of watch with a hand over one eye. This far along in the season, they're athletic enough, they're smart enough and they're tough enough."
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