November 6, 2010

Spotlight on Sean Robinson

As soon as Purdue's game vs. Illinois ended last week, Sean Robinson knew he'd be Purdue's starter Saturday against Wisconsin.

The advance work gained from having a full week of practice as Purdue's No. 1 certainly paid off vs. the Badgers, as the true freshman helped give the Boiler offense some life, before turnovers undid an upset bid late.

Robinson finished with a mixed bag appropriate for a first-time starter, as he had 141 yards passing on 19-of-38 attempts with a touchdown, but three interceptions.

"He played awesome," tight end Kyle Adamssaid after Purdue's closer-than-the-margin 34-13 loss to the Badgers. "I know there's some things that didn't go our way, but he did so much better. You could see him developing each and every week. He's a good player now and he's going to be an even better player."

For much of the game - Purdue led 10-6 at the half, and trailed only 20-13 with 10 minutes left - Robinson looked poised beyond his years. After hitting on only 7-of-20 pass in relief against Illinois last week, with many of his misses going well high of intended receivers, Robinson was dialed in better vs. the Badgers.

Robinson, who began this season as the No. 4 quarterback on the depth chart, if not lower, says Purdue's early success calmed his nerves.

"It helped a lot," said Robinson, who also rushed for 31 yards, including a long of 17. "Coach (Gary) Nord was messing with me before the game, trying to loosen me up a little bit. I was a little tense. Being a freshman, you're used to playing in front of 2,000. However many people were at this game, that's a big difference.

"To have (everybody) making plays, that settled me down quite a bit."

Purdue erased doubt, at least within its own ranks, about the starter early in the week. Rob Henry, who started the last week despite his injured finger, barely practiced, allowing Robinson to take nearly every practice snap. That, plus his intense film study, allowed some improvement.

"I thought, particularly early in the game, he showed some great progress, showed some poise," Coach Danny Hope said. "He made some plays. We still have to fine-tune the passing game because we're not throwing and passing like we need to."

In the second half, the Badger defense gave the youngster some problems. After a turnover-free first half, in which Robinson threw for 91 yards while hitting on better than 50 percent of his attempts, he had three interceptions in the second. One was returned for a touchdown and the other two led to scores.

But, considering the circumstances, Robinson took a big step forward.

"He was way down the depth chart a month ago, but he got all the reps and did a good job in practice," Hope said. "Any time you learn a lesson in a big game at that position, you grow from it. And he's learned some tough lessons early and he's grown. He's a great competitor.

"He's young, a true freshman, but he's mature in some ways."

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