Dan Mullen does indeed know who Wan'Dale Robinson is, but if you don't, you should
I watched the video, I read the press conference transcript and I came to my own conclusion.
Dan Mullen knows who Wan’Dale Robinson is.
At a Monday press conference, Florida’s head coach was asked about the Kentucky offense. Specifically, Robinson. Mullen, however, needed some help identifying who Robinson was. Mullen asked for Robinson’s number (1) and then went on to describe how explosive he’s been and how Robinson has been dangerous in play-action, especially with how effective Kentucky is running the ball.
Was it a bit clunky? Sure. Ideally, the coach would have an opposing starting lineup identified by name and number, though Mullen is hardly the first coach to identify an opposing player by just their number.
Was it the type of the thing that any team will probably treat as bulletin board material? Probably. If Robinson were to lead Kentucky to a win against Florida in Lexington for the first time since 1986, you’d better believe there’d be a Wildcat or two who would say something to the effect of “I bet Mullen knows who Robinson is now.”
But based on how he correctly identified Robinson’s skill set in Kentucky’s new offense, Mullen knows who No. 1 in blue and white is.
Wan’Dale Robinson on 20+ yard targets this season:
🔹 6 Catches (T-1st)
🔹 239 Yards (1st)pic.twitter.com/uQ0HwKyJ2b
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 22, 2021
However, let’s treat this as a time to make everyone in college football familiar with Robinson.
He isn’t just No. 1 in your program. He’s your No. 1 receiver in the SEC heading into October.
The Nebraska transfer — that’s probably another reason Mullen didn’t have his name and number identified — has been exactly what the doctor ordered. More specifically, it’s exactly what Liam Coen ordered for Kentucky’s new offense.
It’s fitting that in the NFL, Cooper Kupp is currently the league’s leading receiver. That’s the player Coen said Robinson could be in Kentucky’s offense if he picked the home state Cats after entering the transfer portal. Robinson wanted out of doing cut blocks as a pass-catching tailback in Scott Frost’s offense at Nebraska.
So far at Kentucky, Coen kept his word. Robinson’s snap count through 4 games is:
- Slot: 143
- Wide: 49
- Punt return: 17
- Backfield: 0
As a full-time receiver, Pro Football Focus has Robinson graded as the No. 2 Power 5 player at the position. And if there was any concern about Robinson’s physicality following his comments about not wanting to cut block at Nebraska, he’s graded No. 16 among SEC receivers in run-blocking.
Ask Mullen. Robinson is dangerous no matter where he is on the field. Previously, a 3rd-and-12 for Kentucky was an automatic punt. With Robinson in Coen’s offense — it ranks No. 8 in FBS in 3rd-down conversion rate — that’s a possible chunk play.
Wan’Dale Robinson – and Will Levis – are dudes.
Robinson and this Kentucky offense has been so much fun to watch tonight, lots of explosive plays. pic.twitter.com/FYnosknntO
— Seven Rounds in Heaven (@7RoundsInHeaven) September 12, 2021
Granted, it helped that play that Mizzou opted for press man coverage on Robinson, which Will Levis correctly identified at the line of scrimmage.
That’s what makes Robinson so unique. You can’t jam him at the line in press coverage because he can beat you deep. It’s also dangerous giving him that cushion because of his ability to make defenders miss in space. Coen will put him in motion and run end-arounds, too. He busted one loose for 64 yards against Mizzou, which was the highlight of career-best 174-yard (101 receiving, 73 rushing) performance.
In many ways, Robinson served as the representation for this new-look Kentucky offense. It has multiple ways to beat you. It’s far from a finished product — ball security is still a major issue overall — but the foundation is clear. Robinson is the game-changer in the passing game and Chris Rodriguez is plenty dangerous in the ground game. Rodriguez leads the SEC in rushing by 96 yards, and he ranks No. 5 in FBS. Hence, why the play-action has been so successful.
Mullen identified that. More important than that on the Florida side is how Todd Grantham approaches Robinson and Co.
Um, it’s safe to say he’s not taking the Cats lightly.
Dan Mullen today admitted #Gators basically rested key guys who weren’t 100% against the Vols.
Adding insult to injury, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham just praised Kentucky’s offense:
“It’s a much more difficult challenge than, say, last week.”
— Thomas Goldkamp (@ThomasGoldkamp) September 27, 2021
That might say more about Tennessee in Year 1 with Josh Heupel’s offense than Kentucky in Year 1 with Coen’s offense, but whatever the case, Robinson isn’t going under Florida’s radar.
Even people who didn’t watch him emerge into Nebraska’s best player in his 2 years in Lincoln should be well aware of Robinson. His Bluegrass State buddy Rondale Moore, who starred at Purdue and his now carving out a role as one of Kyler Murray’s go-targets with the Arizona Cardinals, was supposed to be Robinson’s comp. But with the way Robinson stretched the field in his first month, he’s almost become like Kentucky’s version of Jaylen Waddle.
As Robinson’s connection with Levis grows — the Penn State transfer enrolled at Kentucky over the summer — so too should his potential. That’s saying something.
Perhaps the only thing that can stand in the way of that is Robinson’s health. He dealt with a hamstring injury against South Carolina, which marked his first game without 100 receiving yards in 2021 (he had 7 catches for 65 yards). Robinson, however, said that he felt “100 percent.”
Whatever the case, Kentucky is going to need every bit of him to string together scoring drives against a Florida defense who became the first SEC team to hold Alabama to less than 35 points since 2018. Already, Robinson has become an indispensable piece of his new program.
Saturday night is a chance for Kentucky to send Florida out of Lexington with a loss for the first time in 35 years.
What could also happen by night’s end? Wan’Dale Robinson makes everyone remember his name.