“That’s usually the case,” Kiffin said. “I’ve said it before, you know the Jalen Hurts situation is very abnormal in that he was a freshman doing what he did. This is more normal. You see it in the NFL, too. I looked at Sam Darnold’s numbers (Sunday).”
With Kiffin as his offensive coordinator, Hurts led Alabama to the 2017 national title game as a true freshman. Darnold, a New York Jets rookie and first-round draft choice out of USC, threw three interceptions as part of a 17-for-41 afternoon in a 37-17 loss.
In Saturday’s 31-7 loss to Marshall, Robison’s stat line resembled Darnold’s, completing 18 of 35 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown. Not terrible, until the four interceptions are added to the stat line.
Kiffin defended several of those throws that ended up in the wrong hands.
“Really, one of them is a bad pick,” Kiffin said. “The one he was throwing to Cousart, he under-throws it. It was going to be a big play because the corner actually falls down behind that. That one was a really bad pick. You have to look at the other three. The one desperation, it’s almost like a Hail Mary at the end of the first half, (the receiver was) supposed to go back to the post and he didn’t. Then you’ve got one that hit Singletary in the hand, and then the other one gets tipped. His play was not as poor as the stat line in that area.”
His play on third down, however, couldn’t be termed successful. FAU converted only three of 17 third down opportunities in the loss at Marshall.
Third down struggles have been a common thread in FAU losses this season.
“A lot of times freshman quarterbacks, rookie quarterbacks in the NFL, they struggle, especially on third down,” Kiffin said.
Receivers didn’t always help the cause. Jovon Durante dropped two likely touchdown passes. Others couldn’t hall in on-target passes that would have led to first downs.
Heading into the Marshall game, Robison acknowledged he was still growing into the college game. His struggles have been magnified on the road, where the Owls have lost all four games he started.
“I’m still working to learn how to play on Saturdays,” Robison said. “It’s pretty easy in practice because you are around the same guys every day, but once you get on the road or in the game where there are people watching you, it’s a little bit different. You’ve got to learn how to play. I’m still in the process of that. I’m getting better as every game goes by.”
Robison emerged from fall camp the winner of a three-way quarterback battle, and has started all seven games thus far this this season. His availability for Friday’s game against Louisiana Tech at Howard Schnellenberger Field, however, is uncertain.
During the third quarter of Saturday’s loss Robison injured an ankle. He missed the following series while getting taped on the sideline. When he did return, Robison was ineffective.
With Robison on the sideline backups De’Andre Johnson and Rafe Peavey both played, but neither did so effectively, with each completing one of their three pass attempts.
Kiffin reiterated on Sunday that neither Johnson or Peavey has been able to separate themselves from the other in the battle to back up Robison.
“They both end up going into games and stuff just to see who’s going to operate the system and who’s going to perform well when they get their chance in the game,” Kiffin said.
The Owls ran four possessions with Robison sidelined – two with Johnson at QB, two with Peavey – but none of them yielded a first down.