Chop Robinson Electrifies Penn State Defense In Iowa Win
October 9, 2021, doesn’t carry great memories for Penn State football fans. It’s not any happier for defensive end Chop Robinson.
That fateful day nearly two years ago marked the occasion when the high-flying Nittany Lions flew into Iowa in a battle of two top-ranked Big Ten teams, each with playoff aspirations. The game was the beginning of the end for the visitors, as No. 4 Penn State fell to No. 3 Iowa 23-20. The previously 5-0 Nittany Lions ended the regular season 6-6 before dropping their bowl game to Arkansas.
Meanwhile, Robinson was getting blown out by Ohio State.
Then at Maryland, Robinson was making his name at a program that finished below Penn State in the Big Ten standings in 2021, though only by a difference of one loss. As a freshman, Robinson played in all thirteen of the Terrapins games before he transferred to Penn State for his sophomore year. On that day that Penn State lost to Iowa, Maryland gave up 66 points to the Buckeyes.
While he wasn’t a Nittany Lion during that defeat to Iowa, Robinson was one of Penn State’s most abrasive players against the Hawkeyes Saturday. Two times after making a big play Saturday, Robinson dropped limp to the ground. It wasn’t a random change of pace for someone whose normal celebration is an imitation of chopping wood.
In 2021, Iowa fans famously — or infamously, for that matter — accused the many Penn State players going down on the field with injuries of foul play. Head coach Kirk Ferentz said that his fans “smelled a rat” and that fans and coaches accusing the Nittany Lions of faking their injuries was fair play. Robinson felt differently.
What Robinson saw was Iowa’s special teams coordinator making fun of Arnold Ebiketie and PJ Mustipher, two players who brought Robinson into the fold at Penn State. After the game, Franklin said that Ebiketie’s injury looked serious at the moment, while Mustipher found out he’d torn his ACL and wouldn’t play football until the 2022 season. Robinson wanted revenge.
“We don’t take that type of disrespect,” Robinson said after Penn State beat Iowa Saturday. “I just had to do it for them to be honest.”
Robinson put on his performance of the season against the Hawkeyes. Penn State changed the way it used its defensive line Saturday, putting three defensive ends on the field at once and letting Robinson rush the quarterback from the inside. Robinson totaled one sack, one forced fumble, and two quarterback hurries.
Some of Robinson’s best moments didn’t show up on the stat sheet. Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara was uncomfortable throughout the game, and Robinson was a big reason why. As Robinson put it, he’s happy to do the dirty work as long as his team finds ways to win.
“As long as I do my job and the people behind me are making plays or we’re winning, that’s what matters to me,” he said. “I could care less about stats.”
Robinson echoed a sentiment that James Franklin had presented earlier in the week, that pass rushers don’t always get the best statistics, but what really matters is how they’re able to change plays in the trenches to force pressure on opposing offenses.
Similarly, it was Franklin who got Robinson and his teammates fired up to play the Hawkeyes. Franklin and his coaching staff, Robinson said, showed Penn State film of that Iowa special teams coach flopping on the sideline in 2021. That film session was the inspiration for Robinson’s celebration and one of his motivators before the game.
“Once I saw it, I was like ‘OK, so disrespectful coaches, disrespectful team,” Robinson said. “So I was like, ‘I’m going to definitely do that once I make a big play.'”
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