Linebacker/quarterback Griff Robles is having a turbulent sophomore season. Or is it quarterback/linebacker? No matter the perspective, or official title, Robles has been bounced around from position to position.
Robles started the 2011 season as a quarterback, spent the off-season as well as fall camp as a linebacker, and now in the midst of a QB crisis, is back as a signal caller.
Robles took a redshirt year in 2009, having just returned from an LDS mission that summer. As a result, Robles, a highly-touted recruit out of Spanish Fork High School (Utah), played catch up from the moment he stepped foot back on campus.
Robles had to fast-track his post-mission adjustment to life outside of a mission, the process of getting back into football shape and had little time to grasp the Utah spread offense.
Two years later, nothing has really changed for Robles as he is still playing catch up.
After a solid year running the Utah scout team, as well as action in four games in 2010, Robles seemed to be headed in the right direction in terms of the natural growth and learning process of becoming a collegiate quarterback.
Enter Norm Chow, and the introduction of his pro-style offense.
Robles was given from December through Spring of 2011 to make the adjustment to the new offensive scheme, before moving to linebacker immediately following the Utes' spring camp.
Robles then threw himself into learning his new defensive position, and worked diligently to do so.
With another season-ending injury to Jordan Wynn, more than halfway through a tumultuous and trying Utah season, Robles suddenly finds himself one play away from being the starting quarterback at the University of Utah in it's inaugural Pac-12 season.
Robles, a high-character, team guy, is ready to do what's needed in order to help the team win as he diligently prepares for his new challenge and role.
"The adjustment back hasn't been terrible. It's definitely been a bit of a learning curve, with me coming in and having to learn all the install and all of that," Robles explained. "But I've done it in the past. We've done the install from week to week, so I've been able to catch up and catch on pretty quick."
Facing serious adversity in the past weeks, Robles acknowledged the difficulties and challenges ahead of him and his offensive counterparts, but remained confident and upbeat.
"I'm very confident in our game plan for this week. We've seen the film, and feel like we've identified some areas we can have success," Robles said. "Last week they loaded the box on us, and I expect that they'll do that to us again this week, so we'll look to pass outside. We'll have to learn from that and come back better this week."
Despite the surprising last-minute announcement that the Utes would not travel previously named backup quarterback Tyler Shreve on Utes' on the road trip to Cal last Saturday, Robles was aware, and prepared for his backup role in that game.
"I was ready to go, and I expected to go into the game last week," he revealed, an indication that the Utes had known for at least a few days prior to leaving for San Francisco that Shreve's redshirt status would remain in tact through 2011.
Robles made the switch to quarterback three weeks ago, after it was announced that Jon Hays would be the starter in the injured Wynn's place, but was only receiving a small portion of the snaps. Since Shreve had been named Hays' backup, he received all the snaps with the twos for nearly three weeks of practice, leaving Robles with little to no time to fully prepare for his new backup duties versus the Golden Bears.
According to Robles, the Oregon State defense presents some challenges in that he expects strong corner play, making his job that much tougher should he see game time.
This week, however, Robles will have had the benefit of a full week of practice and preparation as the number two man under his belt. By all accounts, he's seized the challenge, and the opportunity with the team-first attitude and vigor he has been known for since he arrived back on the team in 2009.
You'd never know it. The 6-foot-4 235 pounder is a no-nonsense, man of few words.
"I've just had a lot of extra film time, and a ton of time in my book, studying the plays," Robles stated simply. "I'm putting in extra work, but I'm glad to be back."
In his career at quarterback, including limited time in 2011, Robles is 0-2 in passing, and has 22 rushes for a net gain of 135 yards.