Countdown to Blue-White / 25 Days: What Will Allen Robinson Do as an Encore?
Within a year, Allen Robinson went from being just the guy who went to former Penn State quarterback Rob Bolden’s high school to the go-to-guy in the Nittany Lions’ high-powered offense.
The rising junior wide receiver played sparingly as a freshman in 2011, catching three passes for 29 yards. This past fall, it took him all of five plays in the season opening drive against Ohio to surpass those numbers. It was a sign of things to come, and the story is well known from there.
Robinson proceeded to have a breakout season, leading the Big Ten in receptions (77), receiving yards (1013), and receiving touchdowns (11) while breaking Bobby Engram and O.J. McDuffie’s single-season receptions record that stood for over 20 years.
“This offense has never had just one go-to receiver. It’s more about throwing to the guy that’s open, but I’ll say this about Allen — he’s a guy that has done a really good job of understanding what we’re trying to do,” coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s picked it up really well. He can line up in a bunch of different positions. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s got good hands. He’s smart, he’s instinctive, so he’s a guy that we think is going to be a good player for us.”
O’Brien may want the first sentence of that August 28, 2012 quote back. While Matt McGloin spread the ball around to tight ends and running backs, Robinson had more catches, yards, and touchdowns than all other Penn State receivers combined and was responsible for 28.5 percent of McGloin’s completions, 31 percent of his yards, and 46 percent of his touchdowns.
After putting on some additional muscle in the off-season, the only question that remains is whether Robinson can improve on these lofty numbers in 2013.
There are a few potential roadblocks that are out of Robinson’s direct control:
- A new quarterback — After having great chemistry with McGloin, whoever wins the starting job will need to get on the same page with Robinson. Last week in a practice drill, he appeared to have a step on Adrian Amos, but Steven Bench slightly overthrew him.
- Help from teammates — As previously mentioned, Robinson improving on his fantastic season may depend more on other receivers than himself. Brandon-Moseby Felder, Eugene Lewis, and other wideouts who see action will need to keep teams honest and prevent Robinson from seeing increased double coverage.
- Run-pass ratio — With an inexperienced signal-caller and a stable trio of running backs in Zach Zwinak, Bill Belton, and Akeel Lynch, there is a chance Penn State throws a bit less in 2013.
For as good as Robinson’s 2012 campaign looks on paper, there were some missed opportunities that could have increased his production even more. The evolving receiver dealt with a case of the drops early on and overall had 43 balls thrown his direction that fell incomplete including ten in the loss to Virginia. Monster 3-touchdown, 100+ yard games against Navy and Indiana mask a few contests where he was held to under 40 receiving yards. Better consistency will be key as Robinson looks to take his game to the next level.
Can he do it? After exploding onto the scene last fall, will Robinson top his 2012 numbers?
Some factors are out of his hands, but with a bit of help, Robinson has every chance to set some more records and break one of his own.
This is the ninth installment in a 33-day series about the Penn State football program leading up to the Blue-White Game on April 20. We’ve put together a team of football writers who will examine a variety of topics and answer key questions about Bill O’Brien’s team. Click here for past installments in the series.
Day 28: Who Replaces Matt Stankiewitch?