The Best Man for the Job

On day one of his arrival, special teams coach Joe Robinson knew that some changes will take place. Knights News caught up with coach Robinson for a follow up on the special teams.

On day one of his arrival, special team's coach Joe Robinson knew that he would have to change a lot of the players' attitudes in his unit. A new special team philosophy was greatly needed. When the Knights open its season at Virginia Tech, UCF fans will see a new scheme or a "called style" on special teams. Adding to the learning process, UCF has always had difficulty with Virginia Tech's special teams. After years of disappointment, head coach Mike Kruczek was forced to make a change at the special team position.

Coaching replacements will not instantly change the unit's habit. At times, UCF special team players attempted to do too much during punt returns and kickoff returns. In an attempt to gain for more yardages, returners often lost more real estate than what they started with. The dancing is out. No longer will UCF fans see players attempt to do the tango on the field. "I don't want that, I want a guy who can take it north and south," said Coach Robinson. Now the coach has the confidence and the personnel to cover his returners, but obviously there are times they'll take a big hit. Nevertheless, that's the kind of returner coach Robinson has his eyes on. "What I am looking for in a returner is a sure handed guy, courage guy, and a guy when catching the football will bust north and south," Robinson said.

Changes are in store for the fall when practice resumes. Look for Coach Robinson to use some of the schemes that had worked before. "We're going to do a lot of things that we were successful with in the past," Robinson said. But more importantly, the coach will utilize certain schemes that suit his players and will be available to him. "We're going to do the things that best fit with our personnel here...and things that will feature the talents of our players," Robinson replied. "We will try to do what we think will help us win the (MAC) championship," Robinson added. The special team's coach had coached against Virginia Tech before in 1992 and 1993 while he was an assistant with Southern Miss. In both of those games against Virginia Tech, Robinson maneuvered his players around the strategy of current Hokie Coach Beamer.

The coaching staff has the same philosophy when it comes to the use of the true freshmen, who will be coming in the fall. Coach Kruczek had said he would prefer to have the freshmen redshirted their first year. This belief is also shared by Coach Robinson, "I think most of those freshmen probably will and should redshirt," he said. The coaching staff is not going to hang their hat over the in coming freshmen. "To be honest with you I'm hesitant to put a lot of stock on the freshmen," said Robinson. If there happened to be a freshman that came in here and appeared to be able to play really well, like say at the receiver, or defensive back, then I'll look at him seriously because I'll know he can help us," added Coach Robinson.

Further, Coach Robinson does not want to take a redshirt off a player just to play on special teams. "If he's going to play somewhere else, you better believe we're going to look at him, we're going to try to have him have an impact on special teams," replied Robinson. Nevertheless, if a redshirt freshman is an exceptional returner and he can make a difference on winning or losing games, Coach Robinson will probably not redshirt him. The same philosophy does not apply with the junior college players. This season like many seasons ago, the junior college players that are coming in will be counted on to carry a heavy load. "Those kids who are coming in here out of JC were signed to make an immediate impact," said Robinson. "They weren't signed to wait a couple of years." Coach Robinson expects the JC players to be ready for the challenge ahead of them in the fall. "Those kids need to factor in as a force, at least the ones like the linebackers. They need to factor in somewhere in the special teams. They need to come in here and play well on the team and at least in one way earn their way on to the team."

Coach Robinson's special teams will have to face Virginia Tech's special teams out of the gate. To some facing V-Tech might be too much of a challenge, but he does not feel this way. Virginia Tech is just another team that UCF has to play. If UCF doesn't play well against FAU or Akron, the fans will want to see Robinson fired. Virginia Tech has great special teams but the Knights are going to go out and do the best that they can to compete with the Hokies, just like any other football team. Coach Robinson feels there is no additional pressure put on him and all that he can do is to prepare his players the best that he knows how to.

Edited by Rich Sheldon


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