Aldrick Robinson had waited a long time to get his season started.
SMU's leading returning receiver had been counted to become the main receiving producer for the Mustangs this season. But a slow start saw him produce no touchdowns in his first two games as the normally potent SMU offense ranked only 73rd nationally in passing.
Despite those early struggles, Robinson remained relaxed. He knew the chances eventually would be coming with quarterback Kyle Padron in coach June Jones' run-and-shoot offense.
"I had no pressure," Robinson said. "I trusted in the offense, in Kyle and in Coach Jones. Every time I get the opportunity, I just wanted to make the plays."
Those opportunities finally came against Washington State. Robinson made the most of them by grabbing three touchdown receptions to help spark SMU's 35-21 victory over Washington State.
"I got some good chances today," Robinson said. "The balls were perfectly thrown to me, so all I had to do was make the catch and I did. The balls were on me. [Padron] came in the huddle a little more enthusiastic today."
Robinson's breakout performance clearly helped Padron, who had struggled with his grasp of the Mustangs' offense in his first two games. Last week's victory over UAB featured the Mustangs rolling up the most running yards in Jones' coaching tenure there.
They were intent on passing more against the Cougars, who came into the game ranked among the bottom teams nationally in scoring defense and total defense. Padron and Robinson hooked up on a 67-yard scoring strike that was the first of the trio of scoring plays.
It was a return to form for Robinson, who struggled with injuries last season before a breakout nine-catch, 176-yard effort in the Mustangs' Hawaii Bowl victory over Nevada.
More efforts like that were expected this season. But the slow start had helped strip the Mustangs of one of their primary deep threats.
The offense sputtered at times against Washington State, but came alive in the second half when they scored touchdowns on their first two drives to put the game away.
After converting only one of five third downs in the first half, Padron and the Mustangs clicked on three straight third-down plays to start the second half and take control of the game.
"We haven't been very good on third-down conversions so far, so I was glad to see him do that," Jones said. "A lot of that are things that are out of Kyle's control. But today he did what he was supposed to do in key situations and made several key throws when we needed them."
The Mustangs iced the victory as Padron and Robinson hooked up on touchdown tosses of 16 and 10 yards to put the game away.
It enabled Padron to finish with 280 yards and a career-best four touchdown passes.
And with No. 4 TCU coming up Friday night, getting the offense back in synch was important for the Mustangs' confidence heading into their bitter rivalry with their metropolitan-area foes.
"We showed what we can do and what we're capable of doing in that second half," Padron said. "We just need to go out and do that for a full 60 minutes."
Copyright (C) 2010 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.