Dropped pass lives on in Robiskie's mind

Staff Writer
The Columbus Dispatch

The fade pass to the left edge of the end zone was there, and so was the defender. But Brian Robiskie still got his hands on the ball. He just couldn't hang on.

It was a crucial moment, perhaps the pendulum-swinging play, in Ohio State's loss in the national championship game last season. If Robiskie had hung on, the Buckeyes would have regained momentum and the lead, 17-10, early in the second quarter. Instead, a field-goal attempt was blocked on the next play, and Louisiana State was off to a 38-24 victory.

Asked how often he has thought about that play, Robiskie didn't hesitate:

"Every day," he said. "I've got to stop it."

Except he can't.

"He came into my office one day this spring and said, 'Coach, here's the plays I should have made this year and I didn't make them,' " receivers coach Darrell Hazell said. "He named four plays he thought he should have made."

The drop against LSU was one of them.

Robiskie, who will be a senior this fall, could have slapped down a long list of the plays he did make -- he led the Buckeyes in receptions (55) and touchdown catches (11).

"Those are not the things that drive the great players," Hazell said. "It's not the catch he made at Minnesota that drives him, or the big play he made to start off the second half at Washington. It's the thought of the plays he didn't make that drives him.

"The great ones are not complacent. They are never satisfied."

Hazell pointed out that the play came relatively early in the game, which meant there was still plenty of time to recover. But the fact the Buckeyes did not recover added to the play's impact.

"It makes you want to work that much more," Robiskie said, "to keep getting better, and to put it further and further behind you."

Robiskie's perfectionist attitude doesn't surprise Hazell.

"If you look at all the great athletes over time, I think it is something bred into them, their competitive juices are so high, because they know they are going to make the routine play that everybody is going to make," Hazell said. "But the great ones, they want to make that uncommon play that sets them apart at the crucial moment.

"And if they don't make it, that eats at them."

Robiskie underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in February and did not participate in full contact during spring drills in April. But as the offseason workouts spill into seven-on-seven competitions during the summer, he plans to participate fully, maybe even put in extra work on fades to the corner like the one against LSU.

Not that he is obsessing over it.

"But that's something you go back and you use," Robiskie said. "When you're not feeling like you should be or you're not doing some of the things that you should be, you can look at it and you can use it.

"That's one of the plays you obviously should have made, and you didn't. But I've put it behind me now. I'm ready to move on and to get this season under way."

tmay@dispatch.com