Exclusive: One-On-One With Co-DC Greg Robinson

<B>Greg Robinson</B> was hired in January as the Co-Defensive Coordinator and linebackers coach at Texas. His 14 years of NFL experience included directing the defenses at Kansas City (2001-03) and at Denver. During six seasons with the Broncos, Robinson's squad posted three Top 10 finishes in total defense. His run defense also registered three Top 10 finishes, including an NFL best 83.2 ypg in 1997. Not coincidentally, that year was the first of consecutive Super Bowl championships for Denver.

Inside Texas had the opportunity to talk privately with Robinson this week. Rather than incorporating the interview in the format of a feature story, we offer Robinson's remarks in a question-and-answer format to allow subscribers insights into both his personality and the direction in which he is taking the 2004 Longhorn defense.

Following is Part One of the interview. Part Two will be available Thursday, March 18.

Inside Texas: Initially, can you give us an overview of your recent transition to Texas, and all that you've done to get acclimated to the program?

Greg Robinson: It's been a mad dash, with the off-season program and trying to put together our defensive scheme, getting coaches on the same page, getting players on the same page, getting to know the players, and then getting into spring ball. It's been a whirlwind. We had our (high school) Coaches Clinic in here at the same time and having to be involved in all that and speaking at that, so it's been truly a whirlwind. Not that I haven't enjoyed it. I've enjoyed the heck out of it. We spent two days, Thursday and Friday, as a defensive staff just grinding away at trying to re-evaluate and see where we're at and where we're going to head for the next two weeks and how we want to wrap Spring Football up. As far as this week is concerned, some of the coaches got out of town for a few days. As a matter of fact, my wife and I are going to go down to San Antonio for probably three days and come back and get re-organized again and get going. Really, this is going to be the first break I've had since mid-July. It's been pretty hectic.

IT: One of the things Mack Brown said nearly every day during spring drills is there has been an emphasis on defensive fundamentals. Why do you think that type of focus was important for the Texas defense?

GR: I don't care what level of football you're on, you have to build your foundation around fundamentals and that has to do with defeating blockers and playing very good pass defense fundamentally. No matter what we do schematically, in the different techniques that we give the players, we are going to be a very sound, fundamental football team.

This has nothing to do with what has been here in the past. It's just my philosophy, and we're working very hard at that. We've broken it down to the very basics in both defeating blockers, and tackling, and pass defense. At the same time, we have to teach them schematically what we're wanting to do and the techniques that go with those. It's a process and, as I keep mentioning to the players, it's one where we have so little time. They need to understand that. Even in the off-season conditioning program, we were trying to establish something. You know, a tough work ethic.

But that was then. We've got to take what we've established in that and it has to carry over into spring practice. When we started spring practice, it was the basic fundamentals that we were working on and, at the same time, schematically, the basic techniques that we're teaching. We only have so much time, and we're halfway done now. Here, we're going to have another window of growth over the next two weeks and we've got to get so much accomplished. There's just so much time that you have and we hope that they understand the sense of urgency.

But as I look back over the last six weeks, I have been very impressed with our players as far as their intent to grow and develop. They've done everything we've asked them to do. We'd like to believe we've challenged them, physically and mentally and emotionally, in all of those areas. I've liked the response from the players. That's a real plus.

We're going to be a defensive group that people are going to see as very fundamental. We're gonna get off blockers. We're gonna chase the ball. We're gonna tackle well. I feel very strongly about that. If you're a great tackling team, then that means other things are being taught. It means you're getting off blocks. It means you're getting to the ball. It means effort's involved. And then it's how you get to the ball. When someone says, 'Aw, they're gonna be a good tackling team,' they think it's just the technique of contact in tackling. No. There's so much more involved in it. I think our players are learning that: to be a great tackling team you have to do so many other things well. It's exciting to watch our guys grow. We've got a long ways to go, still. Like I say, I feel good about the way things are going so far.

*Photos by Will Gallagher/Inside Texas*

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