BOCA RATON – FAU quarterback Chris Robison insists he is mentally better equipped to play No. 16 Central Florida on Friday than he was a few weeks ago during his first career start – an FAU blowout loss at Oklahoma.
“It was a big deal to me but I didn’t prepare as well as I should have and that showed on Sept. 1,” said Robison, who made his first collegiate appearance against the then-No. 7 Sooners.
A redshirt freshman about to make his fourth career start, Robison expects to be more in control of the Owls’ offense on at UCF – the second and potentially final ranked team on FAU’s schedule.
Lessons learned at Oklahoma should help.
“Against Oklahoma I could tell that the team wasn’t where we should have been,” said Robison, answering questions from the media for the first time since his transfer to FAU from Oklahoma last summer.
“We got down on ourselves real quick after they got up 14-0 and you could just feel everybody in the locker room or even just on the sideline just get down on themselves. I think that actually helped us even though we lost pretty badly. I think that actually helped us going forward and moving forward – especially to this game.”
Robison didn’t play all that poorly in the loss to Oklahoma, throwing for 157 yards on 15-of-26 passing. He did lead the Owls into Sooner territory during their first drive before penalties stalled progress.
The Owls scored their first touchdown of the year – a five-yard Devin Singletary run – on Robison’s final possession of the game. By that time, an Oklahoma victory had become a certainty.
“We didn’t do what we wanted to on offense,” Robison said. “We scored 14 points and we were shut out in the first half. We should have been moving the ball down the field, scoring drives. They have a good team but I think our team is good enough to score points on them.”
Part of Robison’s self-described lack of preparation for the season opener can potentially be attributed to FAU’s three-way quarterback battle which limited his snaps with the first team offense.
Robison’s 33-for-40, 471-yard performance the following week against Air Force ended that battle, which should aid both Robison and the Owls as they prepare for the Knights.
An emotional player who coach Lane Kiffin likened to Johnny Manziel upon the quarterback’s arrival in Boca Raton, Robison spent much of fall camp working to temper those emotions on the field.
“That was probably my worst attribute, was my emotion got way too high during a game or even practice,” Robison said. “I get mad at myself. Even though it shows itself a little bit, I’m working on it. It’s gotten 100 times better than what it was.”
Against Oklahoma Kiffin saw in Robison a quarterback trying to speed up his game, pressing to make everything happen at once. That could have been first-game jitters enhanced by Robison’s propensity to play with great emotion.
While Robison showed significant improvement the following week against Air Force, he couldn’t repeat that performance on Saturday in FAU’s victory over Bethune-Cookman.
For Friday’s nationally-televised contest, one potentially with New Year’s Six bowl implications, Kiffin is hoping Robison reverts back to the form and emotional level that brought him success against Air Force.
“We’re going to have to calm him down and be under control a lot more like he was in Game 2,” Kiffin said. “He’s going to have to play great for us in this game.”