LAFAYETTE — It would’ve been hard to tell by the game he just had Saturday night at Cajun Field, but senior wide receiver Jamal Robinson was tired.
“I was winded,” Robinson said, with a smile. “I’ve got to get back in shape.”
Jeez, what does that mean for everybody else left on the UL-Lafayette schedule?
Robinson was utterly dominant in his first game back, which less-than-coincidentally coincided with the Cajuns offense rounding into form and, oh yeah, a win.
He was at his best, which caught Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth off guard. After all, Robinson hadn’t had a chance to work himself into game shape.
“Jamal exceeded my expectations,” Hudspeth said.
The 6-foot-4 beast of a wide receiver hauled in a season-high eight passes for a season-high 119 yards.
Two of those catches went for scores, which is also what happened the last time Robinson played a full game.
Both of those scores were contested, which is also what happened the last time Robinson caught two touchdowns. The guy has a knack for coming down with a jump ball.
One of them won the game.
But his impact goes beyond just being quarterback Terrance Broadway’s ever-present safety blanket — seriously, if Broadway’s ever in trouble he should just heave it up somewhere within 10 or 12 yards of Robinson.
That in itself makes Robinson a really good player, but his true impact becomes evident when you see what his presence does for the rest of the offense.
“It was a big help that Jamal came back tonight and that the defense wasn’t able to load the box in the run game,” said sophomore running back Elijah McGuire, who had 90 of the Cajuns 195 rushing yards. “It spread the field a little bit, and as a team we made some plays.”
Four Cajuns players finished with more than 60 yards from scrimmage, including fellow receiver Al Riles.
Riles did his best Robinson impression on a fancy catch down the sidelines, leaping for the ball and dragging his toe to keep the Cajuns alive in the fourth quarter as they were driving for a game-winning score.
Robinson gave his heavily wrapped left knee its biggest test when Riles came down with the ball.
“I was more excited than him,” Robinson said. “It was the highest I’ve ever jumped. I jumped high, ran to him, and then he left me hanging when I ran to celebrate with him.
“It’s cool. He was celebrating with everybody else.”
This game game us the true measure of Robinson’s greatness. Just by being present on the field, everybody else was freer to step their own games up. But Robinson wasn’t buying into it after the game.
“Everybody should make plays,” Robinson said. “Ain’t no one person should make plays, because if one person makes plays the defense can easily put two people on one person. A lot of people stepped up this game.”
But it was Robinson who stepped up the biggest and loudest, hauling in a game-winner with a couple minutes remaining on the clock. Using his big frame to give his quarterback confidence to simply throw it in his general vicinity, saying, ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got this.”
And it worked. Even if he was tired.
Tired, but not hurt. That knee? It felt just fine after the game.
“Great,” Robinson said. “Running full-speed.”