During the third quarter against Indiana, Penn State wide receiver Allen Robinson landed on his back following an incomplete pass in the end zone and stayed down. A collective gasp could be heard originating from Central Pennsylvania as Nittany Nation feared the worst: A Penn State offense without All-American candidate and Biletnikoff Award hopeful, Allen Robinson.
Through five games, Robinson has often carried the Nittany Lions offense on his back, which is a rare feat for a wide receiver. His 12-catch, 173-yard, two-touchdown performance against Indiana was a great example. He accounted for more than half of Christian Hackenberg's passing yards as well as a whopping 42 percent of the team's total offensive yards.
On the year, Robinson has accounted for more than 27.5 percent of Penn State's yardage, and that includes the first half against Syracuse when he sat out for disciplinary reasons. In that half of football, Penn State scored just six points—the lowest point total for any half this year.
In fact, with Robinson, Penn State has scored less than six points just once in any quarter.
In the first three games, Hackenberg completed 23 of 24 passes thrown to Robinson, not including a handful of pass-interference calls that moved the chains. Against Indiana, the freshman quarterback aimed 20 of his school-record 55 attempts at the junior receiver from Michigan.
While Robinson's 6'3" frame allows him to be a red-zone threat, he is also an excellent deep threat, striking on plays of at least 45 yards in four of five games this year.
He is tied nationally for 15th in catches, seventh in yards and 13th in receiving touchdowns, but the stats don't justify his value to the Penn State offense.
No other player on the roster ranks in the top 126 in any of those categories. He has more yards than the next six Nittany Lions combined and more than every other wide receiver on the roster put together. His 38 catches account for 34 percent of the team's completions, and he has caught five of Penn State's eight touchdown passes.
While Robinson is a lock as an All-Conference player, his award potential transcends regional prizes. The last receiver to win the Heisman Trophy, Desmond Howard, amassed 985 receiving yards and 180 rushing yards, good for 23 percent of Michigan's total offensive yards in 1991, per TotalFootballStats.com. Before him, Tim Brown accounted for 26.5 percent of his Notre Dame team's 3,455 offensive yards but had just four offensive touchdowns.
Robinson's contributions thus far best both of them.
While it's nearly impossible to compare players across different positions, it is undeniable that Robinson is the glue that holds the Penn State offense together. He is the safety net for a freshman quarterback and a threat that garners attention from the entire defense.
There may be no other player in the country right now who demands as much individual attention when opposing coaches game-plan. Without Robinson on the field, Penn State's offense is essentially nonexistent.
All stats courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.