BOCA RATON – After waiting until game time to announce that Chris Robison would be his season-opening starting quarterback, it shouldn’t be a surprise that coach Lane Kiffin isn’t ready yet to anoint Robison the Owls’ start for Saturday’s game against Air Force.
“We’ve not discussed that yet,” Kiffin said on Sunday afternoon, a little more than 24 hours after No. 7 Oklahoma demolished his Owls 63-14.
Robison didn’t play poorly, completing 15 of 26 passes for 157 yards in three quarters against the Sooners. He didn’t turn the ball over.
In his final possession of the afternoon Robison led the Owls on their first touchdown drive of the season, covering 75 yards in 10 plays and culminating with a 5-yard Devin Singletary run.
Robison struggled with his downfield passes, overthrowing open receivers on several occasions.
The game marked the first collegiate action for the redshirt freshman and it came at the school which dismissed him from the team last summer following his arrest for public intoxication.
“I would say that, probably a ‘C,’” said Kiffin, grading Robison’s game management. “We didn’t do a whole lot around him. There were some times where he missed some throws, but he’s having to hurry it because we’re getting beat upfront. We didn’t hit hardly any explosive passes, which you have to do against those guys because they were geared up to strop the run. They were playing real heavy techniques up front and their whole game plan was to stop Singletary and force us throw, which obviously, was a good plan by them.”
Robison won a three-way battle for the quarterback spot, besting graduate transfer Rafe Peavey and redshirt junior De’Andre Johnson.
Both Peavey and Robison guided a possession in the fourth quarter. By that time Oklahoma was digging deep into its depth chart.
Peavey, who began his career at Arkansas and transferred to Southern Methodist before joining FAU, had the Owls moving with two completions before tossing an interception.
“He made a really good throw on the post route, then the next play threw the interception – only turnover of the day, which was very frustrating,” Kiffin said.
Johnson led the Owls to their second and final score, a seven-yard Kerrith Whyte run. He only completed one of his passes, covering 11 yards, but Johnson did rush for 41 yards on nine carries.
Kiffin noted that Johnson was “making good plays with his feet.”
The action was Johnson’s first since undergoing surgery to remove blood clots from his arm following last season’s opener.
Robison piloted FAU into Oklahoma territory on three first-half drives only to have penalties and incomplete passes to open receivers thwart those possessions. The Owls went three-and-out on five other first half drives.
The season opener marked the first FAU football game with Charlie Weis, Tony Pecoraro and Jaron Fairman as the Owls offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators, respectively.
Kiffin didn’t think the staff turnover unsettled the Owls in their first game.
“I don’t know that’s why were performed so poorly,” Kiffin said. “We didn’t play well offensively. We left a lot of points out there on the board. There were some plays there, we just weren’t able to make the play, or wrong read, or missed throws on some things. Then on defense we tackled horribly the whole day.”