Robinson: I'll Be Ready For Cotton Bowl

Zac Robinson said he hardly knew where the training room was during his first four years at Oklahoma State. But that changed in 2009 when he battled hamstring injuries, a shoulder injury which ended his streak of 34 straight starts, and then an ankle injury in the regular season finale against Oklahoma. But the Cowboys' starting quarterback said he expects to be healthy for the 2010 Cotton Bowl.

Robinson and other members of the Cowboys visited with the media on Tuesday, and the fifth-year senior said he is back to practicing for Oklahoma State's showdown with Mississippi in the 2010 Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

"I'm getting better," Robinson answered when asked Tuesday about his health. "It's obviously frustrating not being healthy but we've still got a lot of time. I know I continue to get better every day. It's going to be fine."

Robinson and the Cowboys will practice in Stillwater through the remainder of this week before players return to their homes to celebrate Christmas with their families. The team will then reconvene in Dallas on Dec. 26 to begin final preparations for the Cotton Bowl.

The 23-year-old quarterback had played in 34 consecutive games before being forced to sit out OSU's 31-28 victory over Colorado on Nov. 19 with the shoulder injury suffered from the vicious hit by Texas Tech cornerback Jamar Walls a week earlier. He returned against OU but suffered the ankle injury on the Cowboys' first series, and has been a frequent visitor to the training room since the season ended.

"It's been frustrating. I have basically stayed out of the training room my whole career up until this year, and I think I've gotten to know those guys down there too well almost," Robinson said.

"It's been hard (having to deal with the injuries this season) but it's something you have to try to push through, and I know that God has a plan, and it's all for the better.

"Everything happens for a reason and I think it's made me stronger, and it's helped me realize and appreciate what it's like being healthy and being able to go out every day," Robinson added.

Robinson will become just the second quarterback in OSU history to lead his team to three consecutive bowl games (the other being Rusty Hilger, in the 1981 Independence Bowl, 1983 Bluebonnet Bowl and 1984 Gator Bowl), and says this group of seniors wants to get to the 10-win plateau.

"I think a lot of the times when you practice for bowl games you get a lot of different guys reps, and it's almost like a mini-spring practice, but this year we have a mindset that we have to get ready to play this game right now," he said. "So we've been practicing like the game is this Saturday. I think that's going to help us out a lot.

"We're preparing like we're playing on Saturday, and I think that's going to help us as we practice this next week and when we get down to Dallas (for practice leading up to the game). But 10 wins is important. We wanted to reach it last year and we fell short. That is a goal of ours, and as soon as we were in a position to do that we knew we wanted to get that 10th win. We've got a great chance to do it, and we're excited about it."

Robinson spent what he says is too much time in the training room this season, but he also took his share of punishment in the Cowboys' bowl game last year when Oregon was dominant in the second half of a 42-31 victory at the Holiday Bowl.

"They out-physicaled us, especially in the second half, and we had some guys that got hurt. But the bottom line in the fourth quarter is that they out-physicaled us on both sides," said Robinson. "We're not going to let that happen (this year). We've been practicing harder and been trying to stay in as good of shape as we can, and preparing for a physical game."

But the Cowboys know that they can expect more of the same from a Mississippi team that plays in the Southeastern Conference.

"They're a great defense. They're very physical. They stop the run," Robinson said. "We know that we're going to have our hands full, and that's why we're practicing as hard as we are. We've got to be ready, especially as an offense, for them and be ready for the physicality."

The Ole Miss defense ranks 15th in the nation in pass efficiency defense, 17th in scoring defense (18.58 points), 24th in total defense (319.33 yards), and 55th in rushing defense (140.33). Robinson says the Rebel defense is similar to what the Cowboys faced in the Big 12 South.

"I think Ole Miss would be like a Texas or OU in our league defensively," he said. "We've got to execute. We didn't execute at all at OU. I think it is similar (to facing Texas or OU). I think it's motivation for us that we know we've got to practice that much harder, and prepare that much more to play a good football team.

"They've got a couple of defensive tackles that are really big. They definitely plug up the middle. They're a good overall defense. Their front seven is good, their secondary is fast and they can cover and they can tackle. We know that we have our hands full," Robinson continued.

"We'll put together a really good plan for them and try to offset some of the things that they do. We know it's going to be a difficult game, and we're going to have to execute at a high level, and play really well."

Oklahoma State opened the season with a victory over an SEC team in Georgia, and Robinson believes defeating the Bulldogs 24-10 back in September will give his team confidence.

"I think so. We've always kind of been a physical team, that's been our deal being able to run the ball and stopping the run on defense. We know that's their style of football. They're a very physical team on both sides, and I think going through that and playing like we have all season is going to help us."

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