As far as I can tell, it’s just a rumor that Bryce Robertson is looking for a pick-up football game this Saturday so he can snipe a couple of quarterback tosses. Then again, if you are playing with your friends in the backyard and you see an orange bolt of lightning fire out from behind a tree and pick off one of your passes, it’s probably him.
You have to wonder at what point people check and see where No. 5 is and go in another direction. You know, after Bryce Robertson intercepted six passes in the first seven games, you might start to think about it.
Now that the Bucknell senior has picked off two more passes in each of the past two games, upping his nation-leading total to 10, they can’t still keep throwing his way, can they? Well, quarterbacks, as smart as they are, are stubborn. They know, just know, they can fit the ball into that tiny window. They know, just know, they are the guy who is going to burn Bryce Robertson.
Right now, though, they are all wrong.
“Quarterbacks are confident, and they have faith that they can make the throw and their receiver will make the catch,” Robertson said Monday. “That’s fine with me. But I am kind of, sort of, surprised they are still throwing at me.”
Robertson entered this, his senior season in Lewisburg, with as much experience as anyone on the Bucknell defense. He had started 26 games in his first three years, played in 30 of them. In those 30 games he had one career interception.
A single pick his sophomore year at Penn. And that was it. So maybe that’s why teams think they can throw in his direction. It took the kid 30 games to intercept one pass. Well, it’s taken him nine games this season to break the Patriot League record with 10 interceptions. Saturday at Lafayette, he intercepted two for the second consecutive game and the third this year.
How good has the 5-foot-9, 180-pounder from Louisiana been? Even if you just count the Princeton, Holy Cross and Lafayette games, Bryce Robertson would still rank third in the country in interceptions. He has two more interceptions than any other defensive back in the nation and that’s counting players from Alabama to Youngstown State and everywhere in between.
So what’s the secret?
“The scheme has been a good fit for me,” the former all-stater out of East St. John High said of coordinator Clayton Carlin’s new 4-2-5. “And I am playing with a lot of confidence. Our front six has been very good, too. They get a lot of pressure on the quarterback and that allows me to sit on a rout once in a while.”
Now that he has 10 interceptions, equaling Bucknell’s single-season record set by Gene Luccarelli in 1970 and breaking the Patriot League record of nine set by Holy Cross’ Dave Murphy in 1987, Robertson is grateful the victories are coming as well. After going 1-10 last year, the Bison are 5-4 heading into this week’s bye before traveling to Colgate and Fordham to finish out the season.
It’s a turnaround that has Robertson feeling good about the state of the program and still thinking about the ones that got away. Two weeks ago against Holy Cross, Robertson had a ball thrown right into his hands in the end zone. The ball slipped through his fingers and the Crusaders scored on the very next play, a crucial turn of events in what turned into a 16-13 Bison loss.
“That was devastating,” he said. “You always look at the ones that got away. It was a missed opportunity for us and gave them another opportunity they took advantage of. It’s all about winning, that’s what we put all that work in for.
“I would give up all my interceptions for a win. It doesn’t matter what I do, it’s about the team’s success.”
And his team is off this weekend, so beware if you are playing catch in your backyard.