STILLWATER — Zac Robinson loves contact. Loves it. That's great if you're a middle linebacker; not so great if you're the team's starting quarterback, the school's single-season record holder for total offense and undoubtedly the most important piece to your team's potential success.
It's a fine line Oklahoma State coaches walk with their starting quarterback. Ask Robinson to protect himself from big hits and risk limiting his play-making ability; tell him to go all-out and risk losing him to injury without a proven backup to replace him. It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it. "I would never ask him to (run out of bounds),” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. "I would never want to take away his stinger. That's what makes him special. "But when I'm standing there and he's running and we've converted a first down, it makes me breathe a little easier if he runs out of bounds versus taking a hit. He has to take enough hits running the offense we run, with the option.” And it's not just the hits he takes, but the ones he gives out. Like when he ducks his shoulder to pick up an extra yard or two. Or when he throws a block to help out his ball carrier, like he did last season at Nebraska. "That was one of my most favorite plays last year,” Robinson said. "I looked at the sideline and everybody was all fired up. I saw defensive guys getting fired up and everybody who saw it. "I have fun doing that. I know I've got to watch it sometimes, but anytime I feel like I can get a clean shot, I'm gonna take it.” And coaches haven't told him to avoid attempting such plays? "No,” he said. "They just said, ‘Good job,' and we didn't really talk about it.” Still, Robinson and the coaches will do what they can to limit the punishment the quarterback's body takes. "I'm assuming there won't be as many called quarterback run plays,” Robinson said. "But there's always a time when there's nothing there and I have to pull it down and run.” And that's the most dangerous time, Gundy says. "You can control (the amount of run plays) somewhat with Zac,” Gundy said.
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Oklahoma State's Zac Robinson loves contact. Mike Gundy says he likes that quality in a quarterback — but it does make him nervous. By NATE BILLINGS, THE OKLAHOMAN
How I do what I do
Zac Robinson explains what it's really like when you're working the dirty job of taking a hit. "I've always liked contact. I enjoy hitting people. I enjoy getting hit, for some reason, most of the time. Sometimes you take some pretty good shots. But I like getting hit, I like the contact. That's why I play. "The hit I took when I got the concussion against Texas A&M — that was really the only hit that I took where I really didn't know what was going on and stuff like that. Other than that, you've got so much adrenaline going during the game, you hardly even feel it. "I'd rather see the hit coming, because you can at least brace yourself for it. Blind-sided, that's no good. "I look at (being a running quarterback) as an advantage. Anytime you can hurt a defense by pulling it down and picking up eight or 10 yards, it puts that much more pressure on them.”