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Midweek Musing: The Ballad of the Backup QB

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The haters gonna hate. And y’all (wrongly) hate Kenny.

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Most of you weren’t happy when Kenny Hill went to Texas A&M.

Many of you were glad when he burned out there.

Several were upset that he made his way to TCU.

And a large portion of you blamed him for the Frogs’ 6-7 campaign a year ago.

*** editor’s note: I was among those people ***

Sure, he was inconsistent - but so was the rest of the team. He made too many bad turnovers, I will give you that, but behind a subpar offensive line and surrounded by a wide receiver corp that had a bad case of the butter fingers, many of those can be attributed to trying to make a play. Kenny was an easy, and not entirely blameless, target in 2016, leading to people calling for Shawn Robinson to be the starter before he even arrived on campus.

Once the Chosen One arrived on campus in the spring, people read into every quote and every snap, hoping he was the Next Big Thing, or more specifically, good enough to supplant Kenny. It felt a lot like 2014 (as this season often has) when Matt Joeckel made his way to Fort Worth, from College Station, and looked primed to supplant Trevone Boykin the QB/WR/HB that had looked so bad at times a season prior. But much like that story, this one took a twist - Kenny won the job easily (though the true freshman was good enough to send Foster Sawyer packing and keep Grayson Muehlstein on the bench) and though he didn’t necessarily win the hearts of the fanbase, he won a ton of games. Hill came out of the gate firing, completing more than 70% of his passes, tossing 3x the number of touchdowns to interceptions, and game-managing his way to a 7-0 start. He was good. He was really good. But people weren’t sold.

There is no more loved man on campus than the backup QB. The clipboard holder with all the untapped potential in the world, a sterling track record in spring games, and the bonus of not having had to play when the pressure is on. How good is your second-stringer? He could be the next Joe Montana for all you know, because he almost never has to actually play meaningful minutes and prove that wrong.

Enter Shawn Robinson.

We got a taste of Shawn Robinson, who went 6-9 for 100 yards, two touchdowns, and added 78 yards on the ground. Most of that work came against Jackson State (which isn’t a state), and while he has put up decent stats, we haven’t seen anything in games that makes me think he’s ready to take over a team with serious playoff aspirations. He hasn’t taken a meaningful snap, outside of a couple times when Hill lost a helmet, ever. But lo... one bad game by Kenny Hill, and suddenly everyone thinks the guy who has yet to take a pressure snap should be leading the 7-1 Horned Frogs. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some terrible tweets:

These could literally go on forever.

So, let me ask you... what other QB on TCU’s roster would have gotten TCU to 7-1? Would the Mule have won in Stillwater? Would a true freshman have had the poise to overcome an early deficit against SMU? Could Shawn Robinson have withstood the pressure against WVU and the hype of College Game Day?

I don’t know, maybe you’re a big believer in Asaph Zamora or Jack Adams or Karson Ringdahl. But I doubt it. Maybe you think Shawn is the next Jake Fromm. But for every Jalen Hurts there’s a slough of players that didn’t work out, and it’s rare that a first year player steps into the most important role and performs at a high enough level to take a team all the way - unless that team is Alabama where you or I would probably take snaps and get to nine wins.

On the season, Kenny is completing 67.8% of his passes for 1,863 yards, 15 touchdown, and five interceptions. He has a QB rating of 151.9, the eighth highest completion rate in the country, is 20th in passing efficiency, and most importantly, has helped put his team at #8 in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Do you really, truly, honestly believe a true freshman QB, led by a rookie play-caller, would be better in any of those categories? ESPECIALLY the last one?

I am excited for the Shawn Robinson era. I think he has a chance to be truly special. But I can wait five or six (or maybe eight?) more games for it to start. Kenny isn’t perfect, he’s far from it, but he’s far and away the best option when it comes to which QB on the roster can get the Frogs to Arlington to compete for a Big 12 Title (something that few of you thought heading into the season would still be in play when the calendar turned to November - be honest). I want TCU to keep winning games, and Saturday aside, Kenny Hill keeps finding ways to help the Frogs do just that.

Hill has, by all accounts, matured on and off the field. He put in the work this off-season, he is seen as a leader by his teammates, and they all seem to genuinely like him. He’s a redshirt senior that has been through the ringer in football and lived to tell about it, and now he has a chance to write the ultimate redemption story by leading TCU to a Big 12 Title. So, I implore you: quit thinking about what might be and focus on who is there now. Kenny needs our support, and he’s earned it. Let’s get to 8-1, Frog fans. Kenny can take us there.