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Why Longhorns RB Bijan Robinson's Fumble Is A Lesson For Big 12 Play

Bijan Robinson will carry a football around campus all week before facing West Virginia on Saturday.

Bijan Robinson pulled a play out of Charles Billingsley's coaching book Monday when walking around campus. As Texas' star running back headed to class, a football was nuzzled between his forearm and chest. 

Word caught on around campus that Robinson was testing students to pull the football out of his grips. Based on conversations Monday with the media, multiple students tried to rip the ball from his clutches. 

No one succeeded at the task. 

"Everybody is trying to knock it out of my hands," Robinson said. "There was even a student that tried to knock it out of my hands. I was like, ‘Dang.’”

There's a reason behind Robinson's madness as to why he's walked around Austin looking like Donny Billingsley without the tape on his hands. Despite dazzling in Saturday's overtime loss to Texas Tech, no one is talking about Robinson's 103-yard performance. They're not mentioning his two touchdown runs, including a 40-yard scamper in the third quarter. 

All the focus is on the lone mistake of Robinson's season — a fumble on the opening play of overtime that eventually led to Texas falling in Lubbock. Robinson is making sure this is the last time people pay attention to plays such as those. 

"For me, it’s a learning lesson," Robinson said. "I can’t go back and be like, ‘Man, I fumbled.’ Because if I start thinking about that then it starts clouding my mind. I don’t ever want that to happen again.”

To put into context how rare a turnover by Robinson is, one would have to go back to his first start in 2020. In three years, the junior has totaled 397 touches as a runner and receiving. 

Prior to Saturday, Robinson coughed up the ball twice. Both came in Week 10 against Iowa State en route to a 30-7 loss at Jack Trice Stadium. The moral of the story? If Robinson fumbles the ball, Texas loses the game. 

Maybe those two notions don't completely correlate with each other. Texas coach Steve Sarkisian won't blame Robinson's mishap in overtime as the reason the Longhorns (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) are back at .500 entering Week 5. He also shouldn't. 

Texas led by a touchdown entering the final 15 minutes of action. The defense allowed Tech quarterback Donovan Smith to find tight end Baylor Cupp for a 19-yard score with just under eight minutes remaining. A 45-yard field goal from Trey Wolff with 21 seconds left should have been the dagger. 

Instead, Hudson Card connected with Tarique Milton and Ja'Tavion Sanders for three catches and 46 yards, setting up a 48-yard field goal from Bert Auburn to send the game to overtime. 

A fumble by Robinson and five plays later, Joey McGuire was being praised for taking down a Saban assistant in his own backyard.

“It’s easy to point out that one play," Sarkisian said Monday. "But there were multiple plays that led to us getting into that position and into that situation.

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"Bijan got right back to work today doing what he does. And that’s practicing his tail off.”

Robinson holds himself to a different standard compared to other Longhorns in the locker room. Scouts at the next level already have compared him to greats like LaDainian Tomlinson, Reggie Bush, and even Walter Payton. Some have called him the safest running back prospect since Saquon Barkley was drafted No. 2 overall out of Penn State in 2018. 

In a sense, the scouts are onto something. Where would the Longhorns be without No. 5 in their backfield? Even with a handful of touches late in games, Robinson keeps Texas' hopes alive on Saturdays. On any given play, he can rip off a play down the sidelines for substantial gains and a fresh set of downs. 

Defenses know this. So does Sarkisian. 

As the Horns prepare for their Big 12 home opener against West Virginia (2-2, 0-1 Big 12), Robinson should remain the team's x-factor. Most players would likely see their production diminish after a costly turnover in overtime. 

Robinson isn't most players. 

That's not a knock on Texas' roster or its running back room. In reality, few players can change the game in an instant the way Robinson can, and most rely on their arms as passers over anything else. 

It's unknown if Robinson will continue to carry the football around on the Forty Acres this week in preparation for the Mountaineers' arrival. Perhaps a few more reps while prepping for midterms might be exactly what the doctor ordered to get the preseason All-American back on track. 

The doctor? Former NFL veteran and Longhorns running backs coach Tashard Choice. He was the one who suggested the idea to Robinson, to begin with.

"[He told me to] make it muscle memory," Robinson said of Choice's idea. "Just fix it and just learn it.'”

The Longhorns will kick off from Royal-Memorial Stadium Saturday at 6:30 p.m. 

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