ORLANDO — Once UCF wide receiver Jaylon Robinson was injured in 2021, it really changed the Knights offense. Remember his incredible fourth one-handed hitch for a touchdown against Louisville?
This hold was arguably as good as any in the past college football season, and not having Robinson for six games, in addition to being far from healthy in several of the others, caused the Knights to change their game plans.
Robinson changes UCF’s offense in a number of ways, and that’s one of the main reasons he’s No. 11 on this list. Here’s a look at the long-term impact of Robinson’s return to the fold this spring.
Height: 5’9″, 180 pounds
Position: Wide Receiver
He needs no introduction for UCF fans. Robinson’s career stats with the Knights read as follows: 73 receptions, 1,301 yards, 17.8 average and eight touchdowns. That’s from just a season and a half at UCF. If he stays healthy in 2022, especially with the other talent surrounding him like Ryan O’Keefe, No. 14 on this same countdownRobinson’s final tally of numbers may actually climb in 2022.
Who will be the double cover of the defenses?
As stated on this same site many times already, and many more times to come, opposing defensive coordinators cannot double Robinson and O’Keefe. That doesn’t take into account players like Florida transfer tight end Kemore Gamble or Auburn transfer wide receiver Kobe Hudson.
Choose your poison.
Robinson is not a player many defensive backs can really run with. It is blurry. Also, he is nervous in space, i.e. he likes to catch a fly with chopsticks via Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid movie. This is especially important to note because this category is divided into subcategories.
Look for teams to play a little zone against the Knights next fall. Man cover is really risky. This opens the door to lots of quick screens, tunnel screens and even that simple ‘look pass’ where the UCF signal caller turns around and throws the ball to Robinson because the cornerback in front of him is playing away from the line of scrimmage.
Even if he only gains five, six or seven yards on screens, it opens up other opportunities and keeps the chains moving. Each screen can also potentially bring defensive backs closer to the line of scrimmage. This is when the Knights can pound defenses with a variety of passing game concepts.
Open pass game
If the teams come up to the line to play the man, of course Robinson’s bombs are a possibility. Beyond that obvious notion, watch for plenty of shallow crossover patterns and combination routes where UCF receivers operate in tandem.
Scrubbing the routes and flooding one side of the field where he puts defensive backs in a bind to make a final decision on switching or crossing traffic while trying to keep up with Robinson and all the other fast UCF receivers. Good luck. The opposing defensive backs will need it. This raises another point about Robinson’s impact on UCF’s overall offense, and it’s vital.
The racing game benefits from the return of Robinson
With some of the load taken off running backs like Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson, Robinson helps the team simply by being on the field. Again, choose your poison. Go ahead, double Robinson cover. That’s when Bowser destroys the other team’s run defense.
Look, teams aren’t likely to stop Bowser (or Richardson for that matter) with six in the box. If teams are designed to keep Robinson and the Knights from passing the ball and going with five in the box, forget it. UCF will go wild and maybe hit the 250 rushing yard mark. That’s why the Spring Ball is so important to Robinson and the Knights.
Timing and rhythm
Talent aside, there aren’t two positions more intertwined than quarterback and receiver. No matter which quarterback ends up being the man behind the Knights’ center, Robinson needs to get back into the groove with the passing game. He missed a lot of time last season.
Plus, Chip Lindsey, UCF’s new offensive coordinator, helps lead the offense now. He knows the workings of head coach Gus Malzahn well. They’ll work well together, but he’ll still add new wrinkles to the attack. It’s inevitable and Robinson can take advantage of it.
If Robinson masters the offense this spring, his ranking as the No. 11 player on this list may actually be undersold. He is so experienced and so talented that it was thought that other players could enjoy the spring even more than Robinson. There’s always that chance that he really takes that big step and becomes a college football player. To do that, Robinson needs to be completely in tune with what’s happening from game to game.
Robinson could explode for 70 catches and 1,200 yards this fall. Hard to say. More importantly, he will impact the Knights offense as a whole, just with his speed and overall playability in the lineup. Robinson doesn’t have to touch the football during a 10-game practice, but he can create a scenario where Bowser faces fewer defenders in the box.
When double-teamed, one of the other wide receivers will likely be open against a defensive back or linebacker who just can’t cover him in space.
Button line, Robinson changes the UCF offense in a multitude of ways. It’s good that he’s back for the Spring Ball. He’s going to improve his game and the Knights will be a much better offense this fall because he’s training now.
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