Wednesday Grid Update, 11/18

Willy Robinson is back. The Arkansas defensive coordinator thanked fans for support after missing last week's victory over Troy because of illness.

Willy Robinson met with the media after practice Wednesday -- the first time since the defensive coordinator messed the 56-20 victory over Troy on Saturday. He said he felt fine, and it was good to be back.

As far as missing the game, the Arkansas assistant coach said he didn't know he missed for a day.

"I didn't know the score until I opened up the paper Saturday morning," Robinson said. "My wife listened to the game. She said she told me three times Saturday night, but I was out of it and I don't remember that."

Robinson wouldn't be specific about what decked him, calling it just an "internal infection." He said the school release noting it was a gallbladder infection was close enough. He said, "It was somewhere down there."

The culprit was apparently dehydration, perhaps brought on by too much coffee.

"I drink way too much coffee," he said. "I watch video, and I have a cup in one hand and the remote in the other. It's like something soft and cuddly. I just have to have it. I'm changing that I'm going to eat better."

Robinson said the weekend was tough, but not nearly the worst experience of his life. He lost his wife to cancer during his time coaching in the NFL.

"That was during the season," he said. "That was a lot worse."

To make things tougher, he had a car wreck on a cross-country drive to California for the funeral.

"You go through things and think they were hard, but that was very tough," he said. "It's about as tough as anything you could go through. We got sideswiped. I wasn't hurt. My youngest daughter -- she was in high school -- was in the back seat. It broke her back. She was in the hospital from that the day her mother was buried."

Sickness has hit before, but never to the point of missing a game. In 1992, he had pneumonia during bowl practices. He coached at practice during the day, then spent the nights in the hospital.

"That was six nights," he said. "I think in coaching you always have to battle something, but you think you can get through it. I thought I could get through this."

There's a two day period last week that are just wiped from his memory.

"I was fading in and out (Friday)," he said. "I don't remember it. That's what they tell me anyway.

"It was about a four-day buildup. I thought I could handle it."

The cards and letters from fans wishing him well are still pouring into Robinson.

"I really appreciate the support from the fans," he said. "They are greatly appreciated."

He's also gotten great support from the coaching staff. He said many have been through similar struggles.

"Bobby Petrino, Tim Horton and Bobby Allen have all had certain illnesses at times," he said. "Again, you think you can fight through it."

He said he was weak Sunday morning, but found strength to make it to the office Sunday afternoon to watch game film. He was pleased with what he saw.

"Our coaches did a great job of putting together the plan that we had worked on all week," he said. "And, our players executed the plan. I missed being on the field with the kids for that game, but I have a good feel for the way our players responded."

They gave him the game ball from Saturday.

"It's in the closet with the rest of the game balls I've received through the years," he said. "It was much appreciated."

Robinson fielded questions on Mississippi State, too. Most of them were on how the Hogs would stop running back Anthony Dixon. They failed to do that last year.

"He's a really good looking back," Robinson said. "He gets yards after contact. He's their bell cow and they do a good job of utilizing him."

MSU head coach Dan Mullen has installed much the same scheme he coordinated last year at Florida.

"It's a lot of the same stuff, but they have mixed in some zone plays and read option that the new offensive coordinator brought. Where at Florida they were getting the ball to Tim Tebow, this offense gets the ball to Dixon and then comes back with misdirection.

"You still have to stop the dive. If you don't get that stopped first, then the other phases of the option don't matter. They will run that dive down your throat."

The Hogs benefit from getting Wendel Davis back. He sat out last week with injuries that have been slowing him for several weeks.

"You see Wendel this week and he looks fresh," Robinson said. "He's moving faster. He got through that little lull and he is in football shape again."

Free safety Matt Harris knows that stopping Dixon is the number one priority.

"Ninety percent of their offense and what we've been practicing has been that run," Harris said. "Their pass play is predicated off of that run. Dixon does a great job for them. He's second leading in the sec. He's a big guy. He's looking me in the eyes and he's 6-3. He's a running back. He weighs 235. He's got good feet. He keeps them going on contact, so we're going to have to swarm this guy and get him down on the ground."

The Bulldogs hammered the Hogs with the run last year in Starkville, then added play-action passes to Dixon as the game progressed. Harris is certain that loss is on the mind of the Hogs as they head to Little Rock this week.

"This one is personal," he said. "Every game you like to go out there and win. But last year this kind of shot our dreams down and now that we're bowl eligible, we'd like to repay the gift there."

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