Troy Will See A Different Zac Robinson

STILLWATER – Good news for Oklahoma State fans entering Saturday's game against the Troy Trojans. It will not be the first start for Cowboy quarterback Zac Robinson. The junior from Littleton, Colo., replaced Bobby Reid in the starting lineup a year ago, and played like it as Troy defeated OSU, 41-23, in Troy, Ala.

It wasn't the first time that Robinson had struggled as a first-time starting quarterback. After playing as a wide receiver as an underclassman, he was named the starting quarterback as a senior for Chatfield High School in Colorado. His first game did not go well. "(My first starts at OSU and in high school) were actually pretty similar. I lost both times," Robinson said Monday, "and I don't think I had a very good start my first start (at quarterback) in high school.

"They were pretty similar but I learned from the mistakes I made and kept growing," continued Robinson, who went on to earn first team All-State honors at Chatfield High.

Robinson will be making his 15th consecutive start Saturday night against Troy since taking over the Cowboys' offense reins on Sept. 14, 2007, and is now the sixth-rated active passer in the NCAA (149.81 rating). His name is already written throughout the school record book, including third with 30 career touchdowns, fifth with 3,764 career passing yards, and also holds the single-game record with 430 passing yards a year ago.

But Robinson and the Cowboys were not setting any records in last year's trip to Troy. As a matter of fact, it was a trip that many would like to forget. The opening kickoff was delayed because of rain and lightning, and then Keith Toston fumbled the ball away to the Trojans on OSU's first offensive play.

Robinson completed 18 of 37 passes for 191 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown throw to tight end Brandon Pettigrew, but he suffered a pair of interceptions.

"I was pretty anxious (against Troy)," Robinson said Monday. "I felt good about the game. Then we had the delay (to the start of the game) and that kind of threw things off, and then we turned the ball over on the first offensive play. It kind of went down hill.

"I threw a couple of interceptions that were ill-advised. It was a combination of a lot of things. I know that I'm a completely different player than I was back then."

Robinson has started every Cowboy game since then, and admits that he is a completely different player than what the Trojans saw a year ago.

"Totally different. Things were moving pretty fast that night. Throughout the season I felt like I got better and got more comfortable with the offense. I feel even more so now," the 22-year-old said. "I feel like I've gotten a lot better since than, and hopefully we can go out and show it on Saturday."

Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy knows what it takes for a young quarterback to mature. He started his first game early in his freshman season in 1986 when he replaced a senior, and went on to set many OSU passing records (which Robinson is likely to break by the time he leaves following the 2009 season). Gundy said Monday that it wasn't until his third season as a starter that he felt comfortable running the Cowboy offense.

"I think he has a pretty good idea of what's going on. I think he has a good feel for all that but how he feels in the operation of a game you would have to ask him how much different he feels now than then," Gundy said. "I'm going to say it's considerably different because he's had 12 games, or however many games. I'm just talking about when I felt I had command of the offense, and really controlled what the defense did. You'd have to ask him that."

But it's apparent to Gundy that Robinson is not the same quarterback from early in the 2007 season. "(It's) just the understanding of the offense, and the normal progression of a quarterback. Maturity and things like that. He had a lot of areas to improve in … his overall command of the game is where he's improved the most," he said.

The Cowboys were definitely unsettled a year ago, with Robinson replacing Reid at quarterback the week of the Troy game.

"I think unsettled is a good word," Gundy said. "I don't think there's any question that we're more settled as a team than we were a year ago.

"This (Troy) team is different than most teams we've played because people don't understand the ability they have. Last year, when we had this press conference we were talking about their quarterback as a good player, and talking about their defensive back as a good player, and I don't think anybody understood or gave them that much credit. Then the corner ended up being the 11th player selected in the (NFL) draft, and had a punt return against us for a touchdown.

"We're more settled in. I'm looking forward to playing this game because I have a lot of respect for what they do and the players that they have. I think they're very, very skilled."

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