When Greg Robinson lost the Syracuse head coaching job and the Michigan defensive coordinator job, and spent time as Texas's football analyst in the player personnel department, he said he never lost confidence in his own ability to coach.
"I don't think so," Robinson said. "I know I can coach. John Wooden used to come in and talk to our staff every year I was at UCLA, and he always stared it with, 'To win, you must have talent. Some with talent don't win, but to win, you must have talent.' I believe in that too, and I think we have good football players here. I'd like to believe that we just keep getting better."
For Robinson, the improvement has been aided by a defensive line group that has emerged as arguably the Big 12's best.
"This group is a really good group," Robinson said. "What's nice too is that there is some depth. When you can spell some guys, that really goes a long way. I really think that they're only going to get better."
But the defensive line has just been the tip of the spear, not the whole brunt of the weapon. Players like Quandre Diggs and Adrian Phillips have helped, thanks to their blitzing ability, and the biggest improvements might have come at linebacker.
That's especially true of junior Steve Edmond, a player who has earned plenty of criticism the past few years for his play, but who has made major strides under Robinson.
"He's got great hands and great anticipation," Robinson said. "He really is an outstanding pass dropper and has great hands."
Those hands helped him collect a key interception in Saturday's 30-7 victory at TCU. But just as important has been Edmond's development as a run-stopper, with the linebacker appearing more confident by the week.
"I don't know that you'd ever know that," Robinson said. "He just kind of goes about his business, but I think he's working hard and I think that's the key to getting better. I just appreciate his effort. I think he's trying to be a really good football player."
Edmond has really taken off since moving out of the middle of the Longhorn defense to Jordan Hicks's former spot at WILL. That spot hasn't just helped Dalton Santos showcase his talents at MIKE, but have allowed Edmond to grow along the outside, where he's a more physical presence than the average outside linebacker.
When Jordan Hicks went down, we had to do some maneuvering," Robinson said. "We started one way and then we flipped it. I put Steve at Jordan's position and put Dalton at the MIKE linebacker position. Really, moving them around was really trying to figure out what was best and how they fit. I think that that's a good fit."
Texas could use both players at their best on Saturday. While Kansas has struggled offensively, the Jayhawks still have several of the pieces, including senior running back James Sims, who were around when they gashed the Longhorns a year ago with the run. Of course, that was a different defense, under a different defensive coordinator.
"I see that an offensive line can be productive," Robinson said. "I think that the running backs — they've got one kid that can flat out go — and the quarterback, at times he can throw it around a little bit. I can't tell you I really have a great feel for the wideouts yet. We spent some time yesterday, but I didn't get it all.
"They are what they are," Robinson said. "It really isn't so much them as it is about us."