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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Zac Robinson is confident about his team's chances this season.
Oklahoma State's senior quarterback expects to see an improvement over last season's 9-4 record. And he knows that a strong collective effort could lead to a shot at the Cowboys' first Big 12 South Division title and the school's first BCS bowl bid.
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|Zac Robinson is excited about what the Cowboys bring back for 2009.|
We sat down to talk with Robinson about wide receiver Dez Bryant's freakish athletic talents, Robinson's reasons for added weight from last season and what the Cowboys need to do to become Big 12 title contenders.
Your coach, Mike Gundy, is making a point to develop your backups and cutting back on your work this spring. Do you like your lack of activity?
Zac Robinson: It has been a little different for me this spring. I'll get out and get my reps and then spend my time teaching the young receivers. Any way I can help with the signal or with certain routes. I'm there trying to help them out and also the other quarterbacks. I'm just trying to get a lot of mental repetitions with the offense and help the other guys out.
When we go with our team period, I'll get the first four snaps and then let the rest of them ride out the rest of the period. Our offense is looking good. It's good to get a little bit of a break. I want to try to better myself in any way I can, but the other guys can use the work in the individual periods. I understand where they are going with it and how they want to have the next guys ready to go.
With Dez Bryant recovering from an injury and Bo Bowling suspended, a lot of your younger receivers are getting most of the snaps in the spring. How do they look so far?
ZR: The work they will get this spring will be great for them. I'm already seeing some guys who might be challenge for some playing time. And as much as it hurt us not to have Dez out there this spring, it's really good for our younger guys to get some reps. I'm excited to see them stand up and find out who can help us out. We've always known we have guys who are talented and who can help us out. They have stepped up in a big way this spring and shown what they can do.
You guys had a strong regular season, but had the disappointing loss in the Holiday Bowl where you squandered a 17-7 halftime lead after Bryant got hurt. How disappointing was that after what you had accomplished during the regular season?
ZR: Sure, we were disappointed because we wanted to get to the 10-win mark and finish off the season on a good note. But we've used it as a little motivation. They were more physical than we were and we don't want to let that happen again. We've used that as motivation to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Dez had an incredible first half in that game with nine receptions before he hurt his knee. If he hadn't gotten hurt, what could he have done against Oregon's defense?
ZR: Honestly, the way they were playing us, he could have had 25 catches in that game. We hadn't seen that kind of coverage since the third or fourth week of the season. It was fun while it lasted to get out and have the other team give us what we wanted. But they were able to take advantage after he got hurt and we just came up short.
It seemed like your load as a running threat increased as the season went on last season. Are you comfortable with that?
ZR: Honestly, I'll do whatever our offensive plans call for and whatever it takes. I like to keep the defense honest and do nothing better than getting 8 or 10 yards a carry. We just want to keep them from not laying back on our passes. We want to stay balanced and see what we can do.
I've heard you've gained some weight since the end of last season. How much do you weigh now and what do you think it will help you do?
ZR: I'm weighing about 225 pounds now. I played at 210 last season. It was just a decision between myself and coach Glass (Oklahoma State strength coach Rob Glass) when we sat down after the end of the season. It was my idea as much as it was his.
I feel like I can play at 205 and felt as fresh as anything after last year. It doesn't really matter what I'm weighing. But towards the end, if I end up playing at the next level, I might like to put a little more weight on.
How has your offense evolved since the end of last season?
ZR: We should be very similar to what we did last year and the year before that. If you look at who we have back, we have everybody back except for Brandon Pettigrew. But we've got some young guys who can run and block who can help us at his position. We're excited about what we've got. It's going to be a lot of fun to see which guys will step up to help us by making plays on offense.
With the added seats at T. Boone Pickens Stadium, the strong home schedule you guys will have and all of the excitement from last season, can you tell there's a buzz among your fans that some good things will be happening during the upcoming season?
ZR: There's definitely an excitement about football around here. It hasn't always been like that. We started building up momentum and it got people excited about our chances of winning titles and bringing championships to Stillwater. But just as fast as we rose to the top 10 or 15 teams last season, we know it can be taken away just like that. We've got to keep working and take the next step, pushing harder than ever before.
It looks like you guys might have more quality depth than any time you've been at Oklahoma State and likely any time in recent history. What does that mean for your program?
ZR: You take a look around at who we have coming back and all the depth we have running with the second string, it's completely different than it's been for us around here before. It's definitely the most talented team since I've been here from a depth perspective and we're overall more talented at our other positions. I think we'll be an exciting team and get better for next season.
What does Oklahoma State need to do to take the next step as a program and start making championship games and big-time bowls?
ZR: I think it will boil down on our abilities to play as a team. A lot of times last season our offense would play well or our defense would. But it was always something where one facet didn't play up to its part. We feel like when we put things together on both sides of the ball we can compete with anybody. Our goal is to continue working together and just see what happens.