Claremore Daily Progress

Sports

September 12, 2013

Robinson a reboot or retread for Texas defense?

AUSTIN — Texas coach Mack Brown has turned to friend and former assistant Greg Robinson to reboot his defense and save the season.

But is a coach a decade removed from his last success on the field the right architect to rebuild, or simply a retread?

Robinson last coached at Texas (1-1) in 2004, when the Longhorns went 11-1 and won the Rose Bowl. As coordinator, his defense ranked No. 23 nationally. The Longhorns allowed only 107 yards rushing per game that season, far below the 550 piled up last week by BYU that helped get Manny Diaz fired the next day.

Robinson parlayed his one season at Texas into a head coaching job at Syracuse, where he was 10-37 in four seasons, including the only two 10-loss seasons in a program that dates to 1889. Robinson landed as defensive coordinator at Michigan under then-coach Rich Rodriguez. In Robinson's two seasons at Michigan, the Wolverines ranked No. 82 and No. 110 nationally in total defense.

In 2010, the Wolverines were last in the Big Ten in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense.

None of that dissuaded Brown from calling on Robinson to replace Diaz in hopes of rescuing a season that started with so much promise. And if he fails, the growing unrest among Texas fans could hit a fever pitch.

"I think Greg has a track record that's as good as anybody in this country. The guy has won Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator, won Rose Bowls as a defensive coordinator. He's a veteran. He's a seasoned veteran,'' Brown said.

"When he went to Michigan, they weren't very good. We have good players on defense. We just have to play better,'' Brown said. "I've seen Greg. I've watched him, been in meetings with him, watched how he works on the field. He has a knack of making guys work hard and get in the right place.''

Robinson's biggest success came 15 years ago in the NFL. He was the defensive coordinator when the Denver Broncos won the 1997 and 1998 Super Bowls. He also was fired by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2003.

Robinson's one season in Austin clearly impressed Brown, who initially brought Robinson back in July as a $62,500-a-year analyst charged with scouting opponents and reviewing video of Texas practices.

Having Robinson on staff gave Brown an insurance policy he cashed after the BYU debacle. Brown stuck with Diaz after the 2012 defense was one of the worst in school history, but with Robinson already on the payroll, Brown could afford to make a drastic move.

Brown said his defensive coaches knew they were on a "short leash'' this season if he sensed a repeat of last season, and he pulled it tight after just two games.

"I didn't bring him in to look over Manny's shoulder, the defensive staff's shoulder,'' Brown said. "That was not part of the deal at all. I thought our defense would be much improved. I thought Manny would do great. That is not what I brought (Robinson) in for ... I didn't think this was going to happen.''

Brown said Robinson would not speak with reporters before Saturday night's game against No. 25 Mississippi (2-0).

Brown described Robinson as a "players coach'' who was demanding of his assistants and would challenge them to pay attention to detail. Texas fans also remember him as a fiery personality on the sideline in 2004.

The Longhorns started that season with a 65-0 win over North Texas that included Robinson yelling at his players later in the game to preserve the shutout. In a 12-0 loss to Oklahoma, a fired-up Robinson exchanged some colorful language with Sooners fans in the Cotton Bowl.

The Longhorns lineup that season was peppered with future NFL talent in All-America linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive tackle Rod Wright and safety Michael Huff. The defense that season was known for playing aggressive and making big plays.

"He's confident. Kids gravitate to him. He just makes kids play better,'' Brown said.

Texas' current players, the oldest of whom were still in middle school the last time Robinson wore burnt orange, met their new coach in a short meeting Sunday night.

"We know whatever he says it has worked before. Two Super Bowls and the Rose Bowl win. Just continue to keep working, that's the biggest thing for us,'' senior defensive back Carrington Byndom said.

Robinson has little time to prepare for Mississippi. But the sudden change also forced the Rebels to consider about adjusting their game plan as well. As soon as the news of Diaz's firing broke, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had his staff scouting old game film on Robinson.

"It's certainly an uncomfortable feeling. We already had a shell of a game plan together based on what they had done last year and early this year. Is that still a good plan? I don't know,'' Freeze said.

Robinson has to quickly learn everything he can about the defense, from the players to the terminology and signals Diaz had put in place.

"He's behind, so we have to continue to teach him the things we know,'' defensive back Quandre Diggs said after practice Tuesday night.

Brown admitted he's put Robinson in a tough spot, but says he's confident Robinson can deliver the kind of playmaking defense he expected when the season began.

"I think so,'' Brown said, "or I wouldn't have brought him back.''



 

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSC_0111web.jpg ‘Team behind the Team’

    For the second-straight year, the Claremore Zebra student training staff will be represented in the Oklahoma Coaches All-State games held in Tulsa.
    Meranda Golbek and Sarah Szcinski, a pair of 2014 Claremore High School graduates, earned All-State honors for their athletic training careers and will join two other student trainers from Jenks and Stillwater High School on the East squad.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • FISHFRYweb.jpg Claremore QB Club holds Fish Fry Aug. 2

    The Claremore Zebra Quarterback Club will hold its annual Fish Fry fundraiser on Aug. 2 at the Claremore High School cafeteria.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blackmon a 'big deal' for the wrong reasons

    The sports world is littered with gifted athletes whose self-destructive tendencies derailed what should have been promising careers. Ex-Oklahoma State wide receiver Justin Blackmon appears to be on that well-worn path with his latest arrest.

    July 27, 2014

  • BASEBALL: Three Rivers Bandits notch 8th-straight win

    The Three Rivers Bandits seem to be getting hot when they need to be, heading into next week’s state tournament.

    The Bartlesville Indians were victims of the heat as the Bandits swept a doubleheader from them, 2-0 and then 9-2, on Saturday at Connors State College for their eighth straight win.

    July 27, 2014

  • TCU's Fields surrenders to misdemeanor warrant

    TCU defensive end Devonte Fields has surrendered to authorities on a misdemeanor assault warrant.

    That's after TCU suspended the defensive standout earlier this week amid allegations he punched an ex-girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun while shouting, "I should blast you!"

    July 27, 2014

  • College football workouts not for the meek

    The massive men ran from one station to the next, barely taking a second to catch their breath between rounds of sit-ups, push-ups and throwing weighted balls against a wall.

    July 27, 2014

  • Utah QB Wilson cited on alcohol charge

    Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been cited at a concert on a charge of possession or consumption of alcohol by a minor.

    July 27, 2014

  • NFL: Eagles dealing with suspension of ex-Sooner OL Lane Johnson

    Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly opened training camp Saturday dealing with an issue he never faced before — one of his top players being suspended.

    Right tackle Lane Johnson, Kelly's first opening-round draft pick and the fourth overall pick of the 2013 draft will miss the first four games of the 2014 season after testing positive for a banned substance.

    July 27, 2014

  • NFL: Browns fans flock to see Johnny Football

    There were No. 2 jerseys everywhere, ringing the practice fields in various shapes, sizes and colors.

    On the first day of training camp, Browns fans came out by the thousands, many of them to get their first live look at the popular and polarizing quarterback who electrified college football and who may one day lead Cleveland back to pro football glory.

    They all came to see Johnny Manziel.

    July 27, 2014

  • Manziel's day at Browns camp

    A look at Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel's day at training camp.

    July 27, 2014