Final take: Robinson’s departure puts NU in a tough spot heading into 2021
There is no trying to spin this one. The loss of wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson is a big one for Scott Frost and the Nebraska football team.
After two seasons where Frost worked to find ways to feature the talented Robinson in his offense, nobody could have seen this one coming.
Robinson was arguably the face of the program. NU already started building his NIL brand on social media over the last year. He was the player spokesperson back in 2019 when Nebraska announced they were building a new $155 million football facility.
It leads me to my next question. Why? Why would somebody that essentially had the keys to the Frost offense jump ship after two years?
My hunch is Robinson and those close to him did not like the way he was being utilized in the offense. I fully understand he also wants to be closer to home and his family.
There were grumblings of a potential Robinson transfer for the last year, ever since the Huskers were forced to use him as a tailback in the Big Ten because of the different issues they have had the last two seasons with guys like Dedrick Mills and Maurice Washington.
Running back was probably not the best fit for Robinson in a physical league like the Big Ten, but Frost had to call on him to help his team win. He took 16 carries in their win vs. Penn State, 18 in a win at Illinois in 2019, and 22 in a loss vs. Indiana in 2019.
I’ve always been told Robinson’s camp sees him exclusively as a receiver and they didn’t like how he was being used at times the last two seasons as a between-the-tackles runner.
Even in 2020, Robinson was by far the Huskers' most consistent weapon on offense, but nothing was easy. Both of Robinson’s touchdowns in NU’s season finale at Rutgers came with physical punishment. He took a fourth-and-1 option pitch where he injured his ribs, and then a third-and-12 pass over the middle where he took a hard shot, but still was able to score.
Nobody can be upset at Robison. He played his guts out for Nebraska the last two seasons. He operated with class and carried himself in a very humble manner, both on and off the field. He bailed the Huskers out of some tough situations. In the 8 games NU won over 2019 and 2020 Robinson played a key factor in a lot of them.
Once again, the bigger question remains how did we get to this point?
Frost will be heading into a pivotal fourth season at Nebraska, and it almost has the feel as if he is starting over in the skill position department. This team will have no proven backs or receivers in 2021, and they will have the only starting quarterback returning in the Big Ten (Adrian Martinez) that did not have a touchdown pass of 20 yards or longer in 2020.
Martinez was just 6-of-20 for 176 yards on his throws that traveled 20 yards or more last season. He had a Big Ten worst 24.2 NFL passer rating on those throws according to PFF. Michigan’s Joe Milton was the next worst with a 53.2 NFL passer rating on deep-ball throws.
Frost has a lot to chew over the next few months. He has been faced with quite a bit of adversity this last year, from the loss of his father to the ups and downs of the 2020 season. This Robinson moment feels like something we will be talking about, one way or the other, for a long time.
Frost needs to take a deep look at what changes need to be made going into year four, as things are in a very tough spot with his offense as we head into the 2021 season. The good news is they just added a legitimate NFL prospect at wide receiver on Monday in Montana grad-transfer Samori Toure. Can they add a few more quality pieces to close out this cycle?