Greg Robinson on the 4-3 D and His Personnel

Full Transcript: Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson on the 4-3 Defense ... and on Jonas Mouton, Obi Ezeh, Mike Martin, Brandon Graham, Ryan VanBergen, Brandon Herron ... and much more.

Question: What do you think is the biggest challenge in the 4-3?

Greg Robinson: "I don't know if…I'd have to sit and think about this one, but the 4-3 it comes down to what are you doing with the 4-3. Are you playing an eight man front or are you playing a seven man front. If you're playing a 3-4 and you're playing an eight man front and you are playing a 4-3 and playing a seven man front. It is really how are you tied in with your secondary has as much to do with all those things as anything. Sometimes an eight man front, you involve the secondary in the front, it becomes more like a 4-4 or like a 3-5. Or if you are playing in a seven man scheme, it just changes the dynamics and I don't think there are very few teams that are 4-3 that are strictly eight man front. Pete (Carrol) is not strictly an eight man front guy. There is very few in this day and age that can play a seven man front play in and play out and be a dominant defense, because offenses are too good. So you have to be able to maneuver and go within an eight man front, seven man front, pressure. All those things are the dynamics of defense and a 4-3 or a 3-4, you choose your poison."

Question: You are always going to play one gap?

Greg Robinson: "No I don't say that."

Question: Oh really?

Greg Robinson: "No it depends on the situation all the way. No a 4-3 cover two is not a one gap defense, but primarily on early downs, we will be a one gap defense."

Question: What do you like about Jonas Mouton?

Greg Robinson: "Number one, I see he is a very explosive player and he can really accelerate, and he is strong from the toes up and on impact he can really pop somebody, that jumps out at you. His running ability. He can change direction very well in the open field. He has a lot of talent and he is instinctive. He shows instinct. He can feel things. Basically what I'm telling you is that I see a lot of fine qualities as a football player."

Question: You don't have a lot of experience at safety, these guys haven't started before, but are you comfortable with them?

Greg Robinson: "We're growing more and more comfortable as they grow together. I think…it's a unit of four really. Those linebackers play a role into it, because they are into the communication. When you have safeties that are inexperienced then you'd better have some people that can communicate and talk to make sure that they are all on the same page. That's why I think Stevie Brown who has been a safety, but is in a position where he can communicate to the front end as well as the back end, that's important. Obi Ezeh is a good communicator. I use the term, he's one of those kind of guys that can make others look better at times, because he's talking. When you have that kind of infusion into your secondary from those positions that's good."

Question: Is there a simple way to stop big plays? Last year in the secondary especially, they killed Michigan's defense.

Greg Robinson: "Well it's something that you really have to work very hard on a lot of different things, one structurally. Schematically, you've got to try to put your guys in position where you're sound. Two, you've to teach people how to play in the open field that's where I think it's a lost art and we've spent hours upon hours upon hours trying to improve our open field play. There is a lot of dynamics that go into that. I can do a clinic on it…I do a clinic on it, but it's true and it's football. It's basics of the game, fundamentals. That's just something that we are going to continue to grown and develop in that area. I see our group becoming better and better in that area. Nobody is without sin; there is no way to put it in regards to the explosive play. We say a run of 11 yards or more or a pass of 16 yards or more, we term as explosive, so our intent is to limit those to the minimum. I can see that we are beginning to…you all got to fit together, that's why I say it takes 11. That's why I say the 4-3, these guys back here have something to do with it too. I think you got to be able to take a concept of what you're trying to play and now everybody has to be able to work through it so that we're positioned well."

Question: Coach Rodriguez said you are going to be on field on game day, as opposed to being box; what do you like about being on the field and what type of personality do you bring to your defense?

Greg Robinson: "I'm on the field for a couple of reasons, being on the field I strongly feel, especially now that offenses have gone to this no huddle offense, you get two or three seconds longer to think and that's an eternity in football. Just you can make a quicker decision because you don't have to transfer a call from upstairs to downstairs and then you have somebody else get it out. That is an advantage. Two, you are on the field so that when issues occur, you can pinpoint and get to them quickly. I've had a lot of experience coaching. If I'm always upstairs having to deliver the message through whosayers, sometimes something can be lost. That's another reason, as far as what is infused, I think others have to answer that. I can say a lot of things about myself, I'd rather not (laugh). I leave that to what other coaches and players have to say."

Question: Coach, can you talk about your defensive line, guys like Mike Martin, Brandon Graham, Will Campbell; I know you talk about the unit, but can you talk briefly about those guys for a bit.

Greg Robinson: "I think those guys…Brandon is the ‘bell cow' and he's the guy that generates…he's going to generate the most attention by an offense. Then you move in and Mike Martin is a physical presence and I still think that there is a development stage in Mike's game. He was a freshman thrown into the fire…Catholic Central, good football, but it is still high school football; this is a different level now. He can't just walk in and physically dominate everybody. They can schematically work him. He understands that and he is working hard to develop and as he continues to develop he'll be a presence. Ryan Van Bergen is an athletic guy. He brings movement to the interior. I had a player by the name of Dennis Byrd that I coached at the New York Jets, who unfortunately broke his neck, but Dennis was an underside. He was 260 pound defensive tackle that had 14 sacks I believe in 1990 or 91, I don't know which year her had that. Dennis was an athletic type player in there as opposed to a hulking type. Ryan is an attention to detail guy. I think it is really good to have a guy like that in your front because he's aware of all the little things that might have to go on if there is a check made, he's good at those kinds of things. I like that to all have that type of player to be mixed in your group and that's not to take anything away from the other guys but it is good to have a guy that is a vocal type leader. Right now Brandon Herron is working at the quick position, which is part time line player and he's made some nice progress from the spring to the fall now. It is starting to become more of a part of him and that is good to see. Those younger guys are a work in progress that we are trying to bring along as quickly as we can."

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