Recon: Words from 'Cuse Coach Greg Robinson

Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson had plenty to say about Iowa in his press conference that took place on Tuesday. He has high praise for Drew Tate and Kirk Ferentz, and acknowledged that Iowa was running a plain vanilla game plan against Montana last week. Read what the former NFL Defensive Coordinator had to say...

The following comments are from Syracuse Head Coach Greg Robinson during his press conference from September 5th, 2006. Q: Have you made any personnel changes?

Greg Robinson: "I don't think that there will be any changes made. There will be people who will continue to play as opposed to just the first string. Obviously on defense there will be a lot of it. We will still have (cornerbacks) Nick Chestnut and Terrell Lemon splitting time. A.J. Brown will play at the safety position, along with Joe Fields. On the offensive line, we will still have (center) Justin (Outten) and Larry Norton will come into play at tackle. Other than that, I think you will see pretty much the see the same group of people."

Q: Can you talk about getting (offensive tackles) Tucker Baumbach and Ryan Ehrie playing time?

Robinson: "Tucker is somebody who got some reps through training camp because we were banged up. He showed some promise. We are not looking to just roll players on the offensive line. With that in mind, I think it was important for Justin to get in the game and I think it was the same in Larry's (Norton) case with Eugene (Newsome). That was a very competitive situation and we decided to go one route, but we still want to see Larry in that ball game. So we will continue to do it that way."

Q: How much of a step-up opponent is Iowa compared to Wake Forest?

Robinson: "Wake Forest is a good football team. I feel for them that they lost their quarterback. That is going to be a setback for them. He was an experienced player and I liked him. Being on the field with him, I was impressed. I thought he was very competitive. They are a good football team and they extend you in certain ways that make it difficult and it was on the road. Iowa, on the other hand, they are a fine football team. There is no question. Just go back and look at the preseason rankings. They (the media) have them as one of the top two or three teams in the Big Ten. They went into their last game against Montana and in a very basic format and stuck with it throughout the game. As the game progressed, they really took over and I think they should have. There is a difference between Montana and Iowa. They are coming into our place and I think that is important. Coming into the Dome is a different experience for teams. I think that it creates a more competitive environment for us."

Q: You mentioned a basic format, what is that format?

Robinson: I think that they played pretty close to the vest, both offensively and defensively. What we viewed from them in the past, we expect to see a little more than what we saw in that game. At the same time, I thought that they did a good job with a basic plan of executing and playing their style of game, a physical football game on both sides of the ball."

Q: Does that make your preparation tougher?

Robinson: "No, we have studied them. We have to believe that some of things that they have done in the past, they will do this week."

Q: How are your impressions of their quarterback Drew Tate?

Robinson: "He is a good player. If I was to say that he resembles somebody, I am not going to tell you that he is at the level, but he reminds of Drew Brees. He may not be as tall as Drew, but he is put together and he can maneuver and he can get around. He throws with a strong arm and he is an accurate, a pin-point passer. There is a reason why he was, I think, the Big Ten Player of the Year a couple of years ago."

Q: They say you make your best improvement form week one to week two. Do you believe that?

Robinson: (smiling) "I like that. I absolutely do believe that. (laughing) I think I said it."

Q: Will you play Andrew Robinson in this game?

Robinson: "That isn't the plan. It isn't like we are looking to put Andrew in the game right now. Andrew is the backup quarterback. Our plan is to go out there and get Perry (Patterson) to get that thing rolling and just to continue to grow and develop his game right now. That is the most important thing for our football team right now in regard to the quarterback position and, really, those around him. I think it is the offense's responsibility – the offensive line, receivers and the running game – to provide the help that is needed to the quarterback position. If they'll really embrace that, and I think they are trying to, then you will see a real fine quarterback down the road here. That is the thinking right now."

Q: What did you take from the receivers (in the Wake Forest game)?

Robinson: "I saw probably four balls in probably the first two and a half quarters that could have been caught. A couple of them were darts. They were on the money and they were there. They were precision type passes that we need to snag and run with. Our guys know that and they know that is their job. They are capable of it because I have seen them do it all through training camp. That is what I am looking to see. I am looking to see our guys catch those balls that are truly what I term ‘catchable balls.'"

Q: Were the passes thrown too hard?

Robinson: "There are going to be times when they are going to zip. I promise you this, you are going to see (Iowa's) Drew Tate zip the balls at times and he is going to expect his receivers to snag the ball. (Notre Dame quarterback Brady) Quinn could fire that ball last year, as could (Louisville quarterback Brian) Bohm. These guy put heat on that ball. If you are going to the next level to play, you better get ready to catch that football. When they are on the money and ball is that area where you are to make a play, you have to make it. Not everything is going to be perfect, but there were several where they were very good throws and we just have to get those balls. You are throwing through zones. You have a window and you are trying to fit that ball through a zone and the receiver is in that window, make the play. There are some quarterbacks who don't have the gumption to spit it in there through a zone. These balls were in there. They were fitting through that spot. I didn't see much of that last year."

Q: You had 136 yards and were 1-for-11 on third downs. Did that shock you and don't you have to improve that?

Robinson: "I was surprised because I would have thought that we had much more than that. I think we lost some yards at the very end of the game. What I saw on film was marked improvement from last year. Statistically it wasn't, but I see things are in place. It just needs to keep growing and developing. The offensive line play and the running game was cleaner and I think that the passing game, there was some precision to it. We just have to upgrade it. I am not going to get hung up on the stats as much as I am going to look at what I see. There were a number of things that were better. I like that offensively there is one penalty in the whole football game and that was a substitution penalty. Knock on wood that we can maintain that. That, in itself, should tells you something. It tells you that the attention to detail is there."

Q: Do you think that field position was a factor? You had a good chance when before you lost the fumble. I think that was the turning point in the game.

Robinson: "We did a fine job on our touchdown drive of coming out in a backed up situation and taking that football down the field. There was several times in the second half where the field position was tough. You can't be as aggressive offensively. There comes a point in time when the score dictates. That game wasn't like that. This was a 10-10 game and then a 13-10 game. That play (the fumble) was, I do agree with you, a momentum swing but I don't believe that any one play changes the game. We had two opportunities when it was a 10-10 game and it stayed 10-10 and there were two fumbles. If we get two fumbles, the ball is at the 35-yard line and we are right back in there and the momentum swing is back. Instead, they get a field goal. It makes it 13-10. Instead of gaining the momentum and being excited about it, it came right back, you had to regroup quickly. The team did and held them. It was a setback when you thought that you had your play. You got your chance and here we go and it didn't. I would like to think that the team isn't that fragile that that's the end of the game. We are tougher minded than that. It just meant that we had to bear down again and take advantage of those situations."

Q: There are some unsold seats at the game. What is your message to get fans to the game?

Robinson: "We need the fans to be there. There a lot of people here who want very badly for this football team to excel. We need their support. We really do. We need to go in that Dome and to feel that energy and hear that noise. On third downs, when Iowa has that football, that's real important to that football team. I hate to use the word hope. I put a plea out to the people to come out and support this football team because what I do believe is this: you are going to see a competitive football team that is going to take it to Iowa to the best of their ability. I don't know that fans really ask for much more than that. They want you to win, but they want you to bust your tail and compete and fly around and show that you are a good football team."

Q: You said you were advancing from last year. Where are you from where you need to be?

Robinson: "What happened in that game, we still didn't produce what we have to. We still have work to do. I am not trying to say that we are just right there. There is still work to do and we are still trying to figure out the right people. What I see is the discipline, how close it is to executing. How consistent can we be? Talent has a lot to do with that. I am encouraged by the talent level, too. I think the receiving corps has a chance to be good. I think that the running back corps has a chance to be good. I liked the offensive line the other night – they are continuing to develop. There were a number of plays where they were physical and they looked like a unit. We have to score points to win. We have to make more than 11 first downs to win. We need to add to the statistics."

Q: You say there are plays where you played good. How close are you to saying quarters and games (are good)?

Robinson: "I think that really that the first half was a good half, not a great half, but a good half by the offense. Then in the second half, the first time we touched the ball, we fumbled and it was setback. We did show some life a little later. I think Paul Chiara ripped off a run. It has to be in chunks."

Q: If it is a 1,000 mile trip from where you started (last January when you accepted this position) and where you want to end up, how far are you? Are you 100 miles in? Are you 400 miles in?

Robinson: "We are in there. Are we 400 miles in there? We are. It is a matter of having some success. They need to do something that we can go back to the locker room and be proud of. It was great that we beat Buffalo last year but we were supposed to beat Buffalo and we were supposed to beat Buffalo about what we beat them. We played West Virginia real tough and Virginia real tough and, in my mind, had Louisville on the ropes in the fourth quarter. They have to be able to walk into the locker room and feel like they really accomplished something. This team needs to taste that because once they do, I would like to believe that with success comes more success. We need to taste what you consider a good win. To me, they are all good."

Q: How much do you need to come into the locker room with a win right now?

Robinson: "That would be great. I might be a little more resilient then (the players) because I can see where we are going. Sometimes I think that it is hard to see the forest through the trees for the players. We have tough-minded kids. They will fight the fight. I am convinced of that. I don't ever like to say they deserve, life isn't about deserving. It is about getting it done. They just need to keep fighting through it and put themselves over that hump and this would be a fine week to do that."

Q: Will Bruce Williams be back this week?

Robinson: "There is a chance that Bruce will be back. We will see today. I think that he is going to play. Punt return, I don't know that."

Q: Anything else injury wise?

Robinson: "No, we are really in good shape."

Q: What happened to Marvin McCall?

Robinson: "It was a hand injury, bruised, but he was better today. Sunday it was still sore. Deep bruise, but he was still functional."

Q: Syracuse is offering a buy one football ticket, get one free men's basketball ticket this week. Will this boost attendance?

Robinson: "I am going to leave that to the marketing people. I hope that it does. Anyway that we could get the crowd that I saw at the early in the year last year. It was exciting and I know what these players feel when that place is like that. I know that it is there responsibility to get it there. They clawed and scratched the other night, now. They were in that ball game. They were in it."

Q: Can you talk about Kirk Ferentz and your experience with him?

Robinson: "We have coached against each other in pro football. I think he was around (Iowa) when I was at UCLA. We played against each other at the Rose Bowl. Kirk is a good coach. They are very proud that he is their coach. He is good person. I like the way that his son, who played for him last year, played the game. He played the game tough. He played it smart. He played it clean. It is the old saying ‘The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.' He is a good man and a good coach."

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