Sunday, November 29, 2015

Robinson, Hackenberg connect in wideout's first start of season

Allen Robinson provides an essential target for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg.

Robinson, Hackenberg connect in wideout's first start of season

Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)
Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

Allen Robinson is an innovative wide receiver, whether he's slipping defensive backs on the field or standing idle off the field.

The junior wideout started his first game of the season Saturday in Penn State's 45-7 win over Michigan, snagging 129 yards and one touchdown through the air.

Robinson didn't play in the first half on Aug. 31 against Syracuse for undisclosed reasons, so he had to get creative in his sideline productivity.

"It was I guess a learning experience not being able to play the first half, just trying to help my teammates out anyway possible," Robinson said. "Just go out the first half, just trying to use my brain instead of my legs in the first half to help us out. Somewhere on the sideline, I’m trying to help guys out there."

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On Saturday in Beaver Stadium, Robinson could focus on exploiting coverage himself rather than identifying it for his teammates. At first, Christian Hackenberg didn't take advantage of Robinson's increased playing time. The freshman quarterback was overthrowing many of his passes to open receivers.

But by the fourth quarter, Hackenberg had settled into a groove with a comfortable lead. He found Robinson for a 45-yard touchdown with 12 minutes to play in the game.

"I wouldn’t say it’s really too much adjustment [to Hackenberg]," Robinson said. "At the end of the day, [Matt] McGloin got the ball out pretty quickly as well. Just with arm strength, any quarterback can throw the ball as far as they want, but how many times do we throw the ball 80 yards down the field? Not really much at all."

With Robinson's talent catching the football, the transition period of throwing to him likely doesn't take all that long. Especially now that he's improved physically from last year.

"He’s in his second year in the offense so he plays faster," wide receivers coach Stan Hixon said. "And he’s gained weight, as in strength. Also, he’s gotten faster in regular speed. He knows what he wants to do. He has a plan for each route he’s running. He knows how to set the defensive backs [so Robinson can] get away, like on the last touchdown he had."

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About this blog
Joe Juliano has been a staff writer for The Inquirer for 30 years, covering covering Penn State football, Villanova basketball and other college sports, along with golf and the Penn Relays. This is his seventh season on The Inquirer’s Penn State beat. He previously covered the Nittany Lions for United Press International from 1976-84.

Joining Joe this season is Erin McCarthy, an intern for The Inquirer and a junior at Penn State majoring in print and digital journalism. This is Erin's first season on the Penn State football beat. She previously spent two summers as an Inquirer summer intern on the Pennsylvania and South Jersey desks. She is also an editor for the Daily Collegian, the university's student newspaper. A Delaware County native, Erin graduated from Episcopal Academy.

Joe Juliano Inquirer Staff Writer
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