TCU is now certain to get a long look at Shawn Robinson, the four-star quarterback who enrolled early and won the backup job as a freshman in spring practice.
Starter Kenny Hill was expected to not make the trip to Lubbock for Saturday’s game against Texas Tech, coach Gary Patterson said Thursday, opening the way for the former DeSoto star to make his first start for No. 11 TCU.
Patterson said Thursday that in addition to Hill, strong safety Niko Small and kicker Jonathan Song will also not make the trip.
Linebacker Travin Howard will travel, Patterson said, but could be a game-time decision.
Robinson, who has played in five games, was on track to play more in the final two games of the regular season even before Hill’s status changed, Patterson indicated earlier this week. Now it is more likely Robinson will start Saturday and perhaps beyond.
“Sometimes things happen for a reason,” Patterson said Tuesday at his midweek press conference, when he announced that Hill and others could be questionable. “So we’ll see what the reason is and what we have to do. Sometimes it’s a learning experience. I’m hoping it’s a really good learning experience and it helps you down the road.”
Robinson, rated a four-star prospect at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, enrolled in January and participated in spring practice. He won the backup job over veteran Grayson Muehslstein in what was a thin competition after TCU lost two quarterbacks to transfers when Foster Sawyer went to Stephen F. Austin and Brennen Wooten opted for Tyler Junior College. Jordan Kitna, a walk-on who would have been in his second year, is sitting out the season because of injury.
For Hill, it means an interruption in a season in which he ranks ninth in the country in completion percentage (65.9) with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 16-to-5. He has run for 194 yards and three touchdowns. He also has a touchdown catch. Hill and the Frogs had the nation’s best third-down conversion percentage during a 7-0 start.
Patterson did not say why the other players are unavailable, but two people close to the team have said it is because of concussions for Hill and Small. No injury was apparent for Hill or Howard against Oklahoma last week, and both spoke with reporters after the game. Typically, TCU does not bring injured players to the interview room.
Song was unable to practice last week, Patterson said, but traveled and dressed at Oklahoma before the team decided not to use him. Cole Bunce kicked two PATs. Ryan Graf missed a 30-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Patterson expressed confidence in Robinson, who had a strong spring and was the only quarterback to throw a touchdown in the spring game.
Patterson said Robinson has gotten as many practice snaps during the season as Hill.
“We’ve always worked two huddles, 1s and 2s,” Patterson said. “That’s the pro style where they have just one huddle, limited time, and the 2s have to get what they call mental reps. I’m not much into mental reps. They have to do it the way they do it because of their roster. We’re still at 100-something guys.”
TCU is a touchdown favorite in the 11 a.m. kickoff at Jones AT&T Stadium, needing wins in both of its final games to all but clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game on Dec. 2.
A TCU loss increases the chance for Oklahoma State or West Virginia to reach the title game.
Patterson said Robinson shouldn’t be too fazed by the college atmosphere in what should be his first start.
“If he has to go, he’s played in a lot of big ballgames,” Patterson said. “He’s won a state title in the state of Texas. That means you’ve played in front of 50,000. It’s not like you’ve played in front of 2,500. The championship game in 6A is probably in front of 45-, 50,000, so it’s not like he hasn’t played in front of a big audience and done the things you need to do.”
No. 11 TCU at Texas Tech
11 a.m. Saturday, FS1