OSU-A&M: Robinson Didn't Expect This

STILLWATER - Zac Robinson spent most of Saturday throwing up. The Oklahoma State backup quarterback wasn't having butterflies; he didn't expect to play. The 6-3, 215-pounder had flu-like symptoms, and he didn't eat a bite at pregame meal. He never expected Bobby Reid to have to be helped off the field with a mild concussion. All of a sudden the veteran of two mop-up stints was on center stage.

"I was surprised. It was really unexpected but I went in there and knew that the offense wouldn't miss a beat," said the redshirt freshman. "I was telling the guys that we were going to be all right and that we would punch it in."

On that first series he was in, with the Cowboys leading Texas A&M 6-3, Robinson carried on an option keeper on third down and was slammed pretty good by the Aggies Cyril Obizor. It was a welcome-to-the-Big 12-type of hit.

"Yeah for sure, I got popped pretty good and right then I knew I wasn't wearing that green jersey that I wear in practice," Robinson said of a hit that jarred him into his reality of the night.

When Robinson first reached the huddle his teammates knew he could handle it. His voice didn't crack and there was no deer in the headlights look. Robinson may or may not have been confident, but his teammates knew he was ready.

""He surprised me a lot," said Bowman. "He came out and was more fired up than the guys that had been on the field. That kind of made me more confident because I was looking at it as a young game coming in and would be jittery and nervous. But Zac came in and smiled and he was telling us, 'Let's not slow down. Let's keep moving.' He came in and filled Bobby's shoes real well."

The Cowboys kept it simple the remaining three series in the first half, and allowed Robinson to ease into running the offense. The backs carried the load in those three series, but Robinson took off in the second half.

"The first half the last couple of series I was pretty cold coming off the bench," explained Robinson. "At halftime I warmed up my legs and was ready to go and everybody was rallying around me and saying we were going to get it done."

He finished the game 7-of-16 passing for 94 yards with no interceptions and three touchdowns. He looked like a veteran in hitting fullback John Johnson in stride for a 12-yard score on his first touchdown pass. He later hit Adarius Bowman for a 22-yard score in the back of the end zone to give the Cowboys a 20-13 lead. In overtime found Bowman again, wide open, for a 15-yard potential tying score. Bowman was so open it was tough to get it there.

"It almost did," said Robinson. "Sometimes those are the toughest throws. Pre-snap I didn't think they would let him be so free, but I came back to him and he made the play."

Robinson also rushed for 16 yards, including some key third-down and fourth-down conversions. Had the Cowboys won, Robinson would have been the story of the night. For head coach Mike Gundy it was still a major accomplishment and one that makes the future that much brighter. The backup quarterback can play.

"We were proud of Zac and the way he competed," said Gundy. "He's in a difficult situation when you are the backup quarterback and maybe getting 20 percent of the reps during the week. Then you come off the bench and it's a little chilly and you have to go out and get it done. I was really proud of the way he rallied. His demeanor was good and he executed. He converted on third and longs, ran the ball well, and had a few touchdown passes. That was a bright spot for us for him to play well."

Robinson said, "I was just going in and trying to make the offense not miss a beat. For sure (it will be easier next time). I had some experience coming into games, but next time I will be much more comfortable."

The next time could be as early as next week although the early reports are that Reid should be available.

The reason that Robinson didn't get the hero off the bench headlines and the heroics that go with it were many. There were two missed extra points and the defense again couldn't get off the field, allowing A&M to go on drives of 80 and 65 yards in the fourth quarter. With 1:43 left and the Aggies facing fourth down and 13 yard sto go, A&M quarterback Stephen McGee scrambled around and found jumbo back Javorskie Lane for a 17-yard gain. It was a pressured throw and a sensational one-handed grab by Lane that converted the first down and sent the Aggies on to the tying score with just three seconds left.

"Yeah, it was real close, like split second," said Cowboy defensive end Victor DeGrate. "If he had held the ball a split second longer I would have got to him, but on the fourth-and-13 he got it off. Javorskie made a good catch. Like I said, it is a hard loss and we are just going to prep for next week."

It's become a familiar story for the Cowboys, not being able to come up with the key stop.

"There is nothing complex to it we just have to go out there and stop them," said defensive end Nathan Peterson. "It the same situation every game -- there is a time in the fourth quarter we have to stop them. Offense is doing their job, and we can't do it. We can't finish. It makes me sick to my stomach and we're all frustrated. Every time we want to go out and do better. It just makes us want to work harder. It felt great to win last week, and now we're not going to sulk. We have a big, big game next week (against Nebraska). We're just going to worry about what we need to do and that is finish. We knew that last drive and how crucial it was and they put together a great drive. Fourth-and-13, we knew we needed to stop them and we failed to do that."

"We have to find a way to stop them," said Gundy. "That is a fact. We knew what they were doing game-plan wise. There were times we played well and got some stops, but at the end of the game when you get them in long yardage situations you have to stop them. As the head coach I'll take repsonsibility and in practice we'll find some situations that are more like a game and give them more pressure in that situation to make a play, It's happened a couple of times, and obviously as a head coach I have to find a way to combat it, so that next time we make that play."

Offense or defense, it doesn't matter, for the second time in three weeks Oklahoma State has been left with a gut-wrenching loss, defeat clutched from the jaws of victory. A loss many teams don't recover from, but at least the Cowboys have practice and have done it once this season and will look to do it again.

"It kind of feels fake," said Bowman. "It kind of feels like it really didn't happen. Like I say every week guys have to go out and work hard and don't shut down right here because I'm not."

On a more personal level, the failed extra points hit home. My son Zach is the deep snapper for the Cowboys. That made it difficult but not impossible to hold the microphone in Mike Gundy's face while he gave his viewpoint on the failed conversions.

"The only thing to me was it looked like it was a low kick," Gundy said of the overtime missed extra point. "WIthout seeing the tape but just standing there watching it, it looked like the kick was low, and special teams, people talk about them not being as important, but we had two points tonight. A fumbled snap on the first PAT that we didn't handle well on the first PAT and then the blocked kick. You'll find a lot of close games are decided in the special teams. We have to continue to work hard and overcome the problems that we had."

I don't know if it makes me a bad father or a good father, but as soon as the post-game show was over I went to the football office to watch the tape of the failed extra points. I just had to know, and I got my answers. It didn't make any difference. Even though both snaps were right on, it didn't make me feel much better. Once Zach knew I had watched the tape he wanted to know what I saw. It didn't make him feel any better. One of the last things he said was, "I just feel I could have done something more. Something to help us win."

He's not alone, a lot of Cowboys were saying that in the locker room after the game. They will ask it again as they try to go to sleep, and they will ask it every time they look in the mirror this week. It is because they will ask that they have a chance to change the result as soon as next Saturday against Nebraska.

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