Patton Robinette gave up the job as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback weeks ago but has not stopped scoring touchdowns.
Robinette, the redshirt freshman out of Maryville, played in the Commodores’ final six games and seven of their last eight. In all but one of those he ran the ball into the end zone.
His six rushing touchdowns are tied for third among Vanderbilt quarterbacks over the 19 seasons, the time since Gerry Dinardo, who ran the run-heavy ‘I-bone,’ left to be head coach at LSU.
In Dinardo’s final season, quarterback Ronnie Gordon had a team-high 13 rushing touchdowns. The current Commodores are much more balanced and varied in their offensive approach.
MOST RUSHING TDs, VANDERBILT QBs
9 – Chris Nickson (2006)
9 – Jay Cutler (2002)
6 – Patton Robinette (2013)
6 – Chris Nickson (2008)
6 – Jay Cutler (2004)
5 – Austyn Carta-Samuels (2013)
5 – Greg Zolman (2001)
5 – Greg Zolman (1999)
4 – Jordan Rodgers (2011)
4 – Larry Smith (2010)
3 – Mackenzi Adams (2007)
Unlike the others who scored that many or more, though, Robinette did not have the ball in his hands for the vast majority of snaps.
He started two games while senior Austyn Carta-Samuels was out with a knee injury. In the final three games of the regular season he played only in situational packages.
“You’re basically running the wildcat offense, but you’re running the wildcat offense with a quarterback,” coach James Franklin said. “So it’s one thing if [running back] Jerron Seymour is back there doing and they know the likelihood of you throwing the ball is a small percentage. If you have a quarterback back there and you over-commit to stopping the run then you’re going to leave [wide receiver] Jordan Matthews one-on-one outside and be able to create some big plays there.”
Carta-Samuels has been no slouch in his own right. He has rushed for five touchdowns, but his have come on scrambles or sneaks. Since he injured his knee Oct. 19 against Georgia, the coaches have tried to limit his need to run. Thus, they opted for the package with Robinette.
All 11 of the quarterbacks’ touchdown runs have come from inside the 10-yard line.
“The quarterback is an extra number,” Carta-Samuels said. “When you hand the ball of to a running back, you’ve got one less blocker whereas is the running back is leading up the hole for the quarterback you have an extra one.”
Never was that one worth more than in the victory over Tennessee on Nov. 23. Robinette scored the game-winning touchdown on a five-yard run with 14 seconds remaining.
“It’s a nice little package for us,” Franklin said. “We plan on continuing to use it and continuing to grow. It’s been great for getting Patton some experience as well.”