Short on experience, Vanderbilt quarterback benefits from a lot of short fields

It is not being critical to say that Patton Robinette has a long way to go before he realizes his full potential.

Vanderbilt’s quarterback for the last two-plus games is a redshirt-freshman. That means his college career has barely started and the more he practices and plays the better he will be. That’s common sense.

At this point, though, his teammates have helped make things easier on him by making sure he does not have to take the offense a long way in order to score points. Of Vanderbilt’s 19 takeaways this season, 12 have come since Robinette was thrust into action.

The latest example of such was Saturday’s 34-17 victory at Florida. Four of the Commodores’ six scoring ‘drives’ consisted of four plays or fewer and covered no more than 22 yards. Three came after interceptions and the fourth after the defense held on downs in the fourth quarter.

“… Because of the turnovers that our defense was able to get, the offense had a short field a lot of times, and I think that was the difference in the game,” coach James Franklin said. “We talked about all week long that the penalties and the turnovers were going to be a huge factor in the game.”

More than half of Vanderbilt’s 13 scoring drives since Robinette replaced the injured Austyn Carta-Samuels just before halftime of the Georgia game have been fewer than five plays.

Prior to that point the Commodores scored 33 times. Of those, eight possessions were fewer than five plays, including two each against non-conference opponents Alabama-Birmingham and Austin Peay.

That’s not to say Robinette can’t drive the offense the length of the field. His two longest drives, in terms of both number of plays and time off the clock, also were in the Florida game. At least once in all three contests he’s played he’s directed a scoring march of more than 10 plays.

It’s also common sense, though, that it’s easier to score when you don’t have that far to go. And he and the Vanderbilt offense make it look relatively easy when that’s the case.

“[It’s] knowing your defense has your back, which they always do, they always have our back,” Robinette said. “Getting that great field position, being able to go 20 yards and get a touchdown is awesome.”

A look at Vanderbilt’s scoring drives, by number of plays, since Robinette replaced Carta-Samuels:

1 play – 13 yards, 0:07 vs. Georgia (TD – Seymour 13 run)
1 play – 10 yards, 0:08 at Florida (TD – Seymour 10 run)

2 plays – 4 yards, 0:47 at Florida (TD – Seymour 2 run)

4 plays – 27 yards, 0:49 at Texas A&M (Seymour 4 run)
4 plays – 22 yards, 1:55 at Florida (TD – Robinette 5 run)
4 plays – 44 yards, 2:12 at Texas A&M (Krause 30 pass from Robinette)
4 plays – minus-4 yards, 2:38 at Florida (FG – Spear 31)

9 plays – 36 yards, 4:41 vs. Georgia (TD – Robinette 4 run)

10 plays – 69 yards, 4:49 at Texas A&M (FG – Spear 23)

11 plays – 60 yards, 4:44 vs. Georgia (FG – Spear 40)

13 plays – 80 yards, 5:28 at Texas A&M (TD – Robinette 7 run)

14 plays – 62 yards, 7:04 at Florida (FG – Spear 31)

17 plays – 75 yards, 7:22 at Florida (TD – Seymour 1 run)