Fellow defensive lineman Jarran Reed is a co-contributor in the efforts to monitor and insure the intensity level is hovering near the top. “As a D-lineman, you’ve got to be the enforcer, you are the dogs of the team, of the defense, so you have got to make sure you force everything and make sure everybody is on point as well as you are,” said the 2015 consensus All-American. Robinson held court on Monday morning at the Omni Hotel Dallas answering questions from the media. Responses were delivered in a low key voice and reserved manner. The words were measured and expansive thoughts uttered succinctly. A mere mention of last year’s domination at the point of attack by Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl has spiked the motivation meter. Twice the Arlington Heights HS product has felt the sting of defeat in bowl games. Oklahoma was the culprit his freshman year. A'Shawn Robinson is keenly aware of the lackluster performances and vows the outcome will be different.
The 6-4, 308 pound defender makes no distinction as to the opponent carrying the rock, the offensive scheme, conference affiliation or any other perceived distracting factor. He is focused on the task. “I just want to go out there and hit as hard as I can the person whoever has the ball, try to strike and knock back the offensive lineman. For me personally, it’s just doing everything for my teammates and I’m sure it’s the same thing for them. I want to do everything for them so that we achieve our goal at the end. I play more so for those guys than thinking about anything else.” Robinson welcomes additional blockers so linebackers and fellow defensive lineman are free to make plays.
An early football experience on offense absorbing hits convinced Robinson delivering the blows on defense was the preferred choice. A “great recruiting visit” to Alabama was the difference for him to rebuff the overtures from his dream school, USC.
His selfless attitude resonates with other endeavors. Practicing the sermon he preaches is demonstrated by authentic gestures away from the field. He visited Alabama fans in a hospital solely intent on lifting the spirits of patients. Robinson celebrated the Christmas Holidays at home visiting with family and friends. Eight of those relatives and supporters from the inner circle are expected to attend the Thursday evening College Football Playoff Semifinal Game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Robinson adheres to the premise that peppering ball carriers with a horde of tacklers eventually crushes the opponent’s competitive spirit. Run-oriented Michigan State will provide the Alabama 11 defenders ample opportunities to apply their well-known trade of gridiron oppression. Finishing is the rallying battle cry ingrained since the debacle of New Orleans. “We are here to show people what we do,” replied Robinson. A defense consistently governing football’s line of demarcation faces the ultimate challenge to thwart an offense predicated on running the football.
The legion of media attention has emphasized the Tide’s impenetrable wall but a concentrated effort by the team’s most glorified unit to improve on the 2014 sack total of 31 produced impressive results. Alabama ranks first in the SEC with 46 sacks, third nationally (3.54 per game) representing a Saban era best. The gifted front also found alternative ways to torment opposing quarterbacks. They are tied for second nationally with 16 pass breaks ups. Robinson said on affecting quarterbacks, “It’s a dog eat dog world. In our minds, we are trying to feast. It’s like a pack of wolves out there on a hunt. We just try to go out there and dominate and get after whoever is out there. Our mindset is we see blood and we’re trying to get the blood.”
Alabama’s defensive front excels in stopping the run and rushing the passer. Michigan State’s pro-style offense will test the versatile group. Robinson and company are starving after two years of coming up empty on the hunt for a bowl victory. Focus and a collective rededication to developing all phases have them prepared for a feast.
Listen and view additional comments from Robinson as he addresses the mindset of the team, the Michigan State Spartans and admiration for Alabama defensive coordinator, Kirby Smart, defensive line coach Bo Davis and running back Derrick Henry.