In his first full season in 2012 as the full-time starting quarterback, Robbie Matey led Johns Hopkins to a 10-2 record, the program’s fourth straight Centennial Conference title and the second round of the NCAA playoffs.
So what’s in store for 2013? The 5-foot-9, 190-pound senior thinks he’s a better quarterback now than he was a year ago.
“Just another year in the offense,” Matey said when asked how he has changed since last season. “You get more reps, you get more opportunities, you get game-time reps against all these opponents. I’ve seen two years of film, and now I’ve seen one year of games. So I’m just more prepared.”
In 2012, Matey ranked second among conference quarterbacks in passing efficiency (134.2), third in passing yards (2,453) and fourth in average yards (204.4). He completed 67.6 percent of his throws (219-of-324).
In two games this fall, Matey has increased his passing efficiency (150.9), average passing yards (290.0) and completion percentage (72.9). He has accounted for five of the team’s eight touchdowns (three passing and two rushing).
In the preseason, Matey impressed coach Jim Margraff with his leadership skills, especially with the graduation of running back Jonathan Rigaud, the conference's Offensive Player of the Year.
“He’s always been tough, and that’s the biggest thing that jumps out about Robbie,” Margraff said. “Some quarterbacks, if they get off to a bad start, it’s like a pitcher who struggles in the first inning and sometimes you should just take him out because he’s done for the game. Robbie’s just mentally tough. He’ll always rebound, he’ll always come back. He’s incredibly supportive of his teammates, but his leadership abilities are what he does best. And from last year to this year, he’s much more of a skilled quarterback. He’s very disciplined in his progressions. He plays within himself and knows what he can do, what he’s best at.”
As many football players who mature are apt to say, the game has slowed down for Matey, and that could be critical as the offense tries to fill the void created by the departure of Rigaud (238 carries for conference-high 1,555 yards and 22 touchdowns).
Senior J.D. Abbott (38 rushes for 190 yards and two touchdowns) and sophomore Brandon Cherry (19 carries for 119 yards) have picked up the slack, but Margraff said the responsibility is not just on Matey’s shoulders.
“I think it’s a shared burden,” Margraff said. “We have four senior offensive linemen who have some sort of ‘All-Something’ to them. We have an All-American type wide receiver in [senior] Dan Wodicka and another great receiver in [senior] Bob D’Orazio. So there’s enough weapons around to help the run game mature and help us figure out what we’re going to do best there. And I think he’ll take it upon himself though, and I feel good about that.”
Matey shrugged off any thought about pressure building on him to spark the offense.
“There is [some pressure], but anytime you have four out of five offensive linemen returning and one is an All American is right tackle [senior Armand Jenifer], one is an academic All American at left tackle [senior Vincenzo Bonaddio], and one is a Centennial Conference first-team center [senior Ben Cranston] and a preseason All American, the running game is still going to be there,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who’s back there because of how good they are.”