Sophomore Robert Lane didn't want to get the starting quarterback job the way he has - via an injury to senior Micheal Spurlock. He would have liked to have earned it in head-to-head competition with his friend.
But, as the cliche' goes, injury is a part of the game and all that's on his mind is leading the Rebels to wins.
"I'm thinking about one thing right now - helping the team get wins," said Lane, who came off the bench last year and showed a knack for being able to spark the Rebs. "Micheal got hurt and it's terrible for him. I feel bad for him, but we have to bounce back as a team and get ready for Wyoming. It's my job to make sure the offense doesn't miss him, and that's the way he wants it too."
Robert is immersed in his preparations for Wyoming, but he understands from past experience that there is a progression to go through this week.
"You can't learn everything about an opponent in one film session or one practice. You learn about them one day at a time and by the end of the week you feel you have a grasp of what they are trying to do on defense," he explained. "I'm just starting the process, but I feel comfortable in my ability to have it all down pat by game time."
Robert struggled some with his passing a year ago, completing just 43.9% of his attempts. So what's the difference this year?
"I hope to be able to get in a rhythm this year. Last year, it was difficult to get in any kind of rhythm, except when I played a lot against Mississippi State," he noted. "I had a better percentage of completions (10-17) in that game, so I know I can do it."
Robert also believes the reps he got in spring and summer in the new offense have helped him get more comfortable.
"Missing part of spring affected me a little bit, but I think I have overcome that. All during the offseason and in August camp, we threw a lot of balls to our receivers and learned more and more about this offense," he explained. "I think my passing game is coming along fine."
There were all sorts of rumors last year about a change in his throwing motion last year and going back to his "old ways" this year. Lane says those are false.
"None of that is true. There were a few little tweaks last year that the coaches wanted me to try, but it wasn't major or anything. When you are in a game, you are just you. You do what you do," Lane stated. "College football - at least at QB - is all about getting reps. A lot of times bad plays come from not being sure what you are going to do with the ball. Until you experience some things and learn, you have some doubt and indecision. I believe I have overcome most of that.
"You have to develop your game mentally as much as physically. You have to have a good idea where you are going with the ball before you get the snap. Things happen quickly on this level and you have to know what you are doing with it before you can make a good throw. Throwing the ball is mainly reacting to what you see and until you get the game to slow down for you a little by knowing what you are supposed to do, that's difficult to do. The game has slowed down for me some."
Lane is a fan of the Rebel offense, which also helps ease his mind.
"I love it. You can do a lot of different things in this offense. A quarterback can get outside the pocket and make plays, stay in the pocket, be the main runner on some plays - we can do it all," Robert said. "I think that fits my game and my style."
Robert believes he is ready for the challenge.
"I have always had faith and confidence in my ability to lead this team. I'm excited about another opportunity," Lane closed. "I want this to come out the right way, not cocky, but I expect to do well."
Lane preps for first start
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