The remaining media members who’d awaited the last Bulldog to leave their winning locker room was willing. Robinson after all had been off-limits during LSU week, since nobody could predict what would emerge from the Louisiana lad’s mind and mouth. In fact he’d been ordered not to tweet anything all week.
So as soon as Mississippi State walked off the field with a 34-29 victory, everyone knew what to expect from the ebullient Bulldog. “I’m out of jail,” he grinned. “Free J-Rob! But it’s all good.”
Very, very good indeed. With so much of Mississippi State’s gameplan carried on his broad shoulders, J-Rob did a jailbreak-number on LSU. The junior tailback collected 197 rushing yards on just 16 chances, averaging 12.3 yards per tote against his home state’s squad. It wasn’t just a career best, that total blew away Robinson’s previous high of 101 (2013 Texas A&M). And he was able to score on one of the shorter totes, a three-yard blast up the middle in the first quarter.
But what else were we to expect from the Dog who goes by both ‘Bowling Ball’ and ‘Touchdown’ with equal enjoyment? “I had the mindset I had to take over the game. I had to have a great homecoming, you know? I came back to my home state so I had to do what I had to do.”
Thing is, Robinson had to do it after a tone had already been set by his state-mate and quarterback Dak Prescott. The team’s triggerman caught LSU’s proud defense by first-quarter surprise with well-placed passes; as well as Prescott’s own exceptional footwork. The quarterback also ran for 105 yards and a score. In the process Prescott and his receivers, both tight and split, gradually convinced LSU to widen things out.
Cue Robinson, who took advantage to blast away ‘tween the tackles. “We’ve got great receivers, we’ve got everybody out there so you have to respect the pass,” he said. “Because we’ve got a dual threat back there, we’ve got Dak and me back there.”
The result was Robinson had chances to be up to speed by the time he hit the line while said LSU line-men were battled and often batted aside by superior State blocking. “My o-line was perfect. We already knew what we had coming and we had the mindset.” The body-set too because what stood out were the yards-after-contact Robinson collected.
Simply, Robinson wasn’t going down on the first hit or to a lone tackler this night. Of course, he grinned. “They don’t call me the Bowling Ball for nothing! But just low center of gravity, protect the ball, do the little things right and that makes a great player.”
And if he got past the line clean, that spread-out defense meant no linebacker or safety backing them. This led to Robinson’s best run, a 66-yard break in the second quarter from State’s 17 all the way to LSU’s same yard line. Not that Robinson was entirely pleased with that play.
“Shoot, I shouldn’t have got caught to be honest!” And the Dogs did have to settle for an Evan Sobiesk field goal and 17-0 lead. Still the theme for three quarters was established; the Tigers could watch the edges and ends, or stack the center, but not both against this dialed-in Dog team.
Had State left Robinson in for just one more play, he would have reached the 200-yard mark and the game’s frantic ending been prevented. He was pulled after getting first down on the Tiger 12 with the 34-16 lead and didn’t touch the ball again, while LSU reeled off two more fast TDs and had a last-play shot at salvaging their evening. Fortunately the Dog defense made that one concluding play to seal victory.
And, allow Robinson to celebrate after getting some post-game treatment—he took his share of shots as well as gave—with what he called his family. Which appeared to count every living State soul awaiting him outside the gate, accounting for all ages, ethnicities, and genders. “I’ve had a numerous amount of family!” Robinson beamed.
Then sobering, “It’s just a dream come true, to be honest. A dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this moment since I was ten, I got recruited by LSU and they said I could play defense. But I had to make a statement tonight and rushed for nearly 200 yards.” At which point Robinson had to dab his eyes as stronger emotions took over.
“It’s just showing you how God works, the wonders he can do. It’s showing whatever you plant you will harvest later on in life.”
A deep thought indeed for the late hour. But then this is J-Rob and such seriousity couldn’t last long. Not as Robinson was asked how, with an open date ahead, the 24-hour celebrating rule Coach Dan Mullen mandates applied. Especially after topping the #8-Tigers in their den.
“Aww, we’ve got a whole-week rule!”