With senior Austyn Carta-Samuels out for the BBVA Compass Bowl after undergoing surgery to repair a torn ACL, Robinette, a redshirt freshman, is tak ing over now instead of during spring practice.
Robinette and true freshman Johnny McCrary have been able to gain experience and a steady helping of extra practice reps as Vanderbilt prepares to play Houston on Jan. 4.
“I think this is great for (Robinette),” quarterbacks coach Ricky Rahne said. “Any time you can get reps, it’s a great deal, and he gets to go against some real live All-SEC (caliber) players in Andre Hal, Kenny Ladler and Javon Marshall.” Rahne said that while it’s a great reward to go to a bowl, the key to the bowl season is that the teams get 15 extra practices, which is bound to help Robinette and McCrary.
“Every rep counts, especially at quarterback,” said Robinette, a Maryville High School graduate. “Getting out there and working through problems on the field and seeing the way defenses run and what we can do to attack it is huge for my progression. It’s definitely going to be big (for me) going into next year.” Because Robinette is the unquestioned starter, Rahne said that gives him a heightened sense of comfort in his role.
“This is a good experience for him,” Rahne said. “He knows it’s not one of those deals where, ‘If I make a mistake I get pulled.’ He knows he’s got to play well and give us a chance to win, but he also knows that he’s going to go out there and we are going to give him every chance to be successful.” Robinette has appeared in nine games and started two, including the 3417 win at Florida afterCarta-Samuels injured his knee. He has completed 40 of 69 pass attempts for 488 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions while also rushing for 177 yards and six touchdowns.
He likely will be the only available quarterback because backup Josh Grady is not expected to be ready due to a knee injury. The Commodores don’t want to burn the redshirt status of McCrary just for one game.
“We might use someother guys who played high school quarterback as well,” coach James Franklin said. “We have multiple guys on our team that played quarterback in high school, so they could be in that position.” Franklin declined to divulge who he may consider should a Robinette injury occur, but did say that potential fill-ins would take reps during the week of practice leading into the bowl game.
Vanderbilt offensive lineman Blake Fromang, left, lifts quarterback Patton Robinette after the Commodores defeated Tennessee 14-10 at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 23. Robinette, who a graduate of Maryville High School, scored the game-winning touchdown.