Robinson: Texas Scheming To Break The 'Bone

The storied program credited with inventing the wishbone offense is now scheming to defend it -- for one week only. Texas won’t see the ‘bone again all year and its Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson hasn’t seen it in more than a decade.

It’s been 15 years since Robinson coached against the type of triple-option attack that Rice brings to DKR Saturday. That was back when Robinson was a UCLA assistant coach facing Arkansas in the 1989 Cotton Bowl. For the record, the Bruins beat the Razorbacks. But the Owl’s offensive game plan is like a broken record in that it hasn’t changed much during coach Ken Hatfield’s 10-year tenure.

Compared to Texas’ ground-breaking, ground-gobbling wishbone attack that launched a 30-game win streak from 1968-1970, the Owls are more likely to throw out of the set, mixing in around 12-to-15 (mainly play-action) passes. Other than that…

"Like I was telling Coach Royal, the wishbone is still the wishbone," Robinson said Tuesday. "They’re going to run the load option, they’re going to give you their unbalanced world. You’ve go to be sound (defensively) or they’re going to find it."

The Owls are averaging 282 ypg rushing (NCAA No. 9) and are riding a five-game winning streak (dating back to last season) heading into the 6 p.m. Saturday kickoff at DKR slated for a Fox Sports Southwest telecast. Senior FB Ed Bailey had the program’s fourth-best rushing night (234 yards on 37 attempts) in Rice’s 41-29 win over Hawaii. But, as with any spread option, it all starts with the signalcaller.

"In any option, it all comes down to good decisions and it starts with the quarterback," Robinson said.

Last week, QB Greg Henderson registered his third 100-yard rushing game of his career with 135 yards on 19 carries.

"He did an excellent job last week of getting the ball to the right people, including himself at times," Robinson said. "They took advantage of what they saw as defensive weaknesses and exploited it. They took what they felt was there."

The key to breaking the ‘bone is sound, disciplined, assignment football -- and coaches have taken advantage of the recent bye week to scheme for an offense that was once a staple (but now an aberration) in college football.

"To me, it’s perfect timing; it’s a perfect schedule," Robinson said. "It demands that we have to be specific and that we have to key properly. That’s going to pay off down the road that we have this stress put on us."


Against 123 total plays in two games, the Texas D has held opponents to less than 2.5 yards on 60 of those snaps. But the defense has also surrendered 14 ‘explosives’ (runs of 9+ yards, completions of 12+ yards). The reason for the big-yardage plays has to do with the ‘eyes’ of Texas, Robinson said.

"It really was a matter of our eyes," Robinson said. "We’ve had a lot of good plays against a really good team. But there were 14 plays where, really, our eyes hurt us. We were seeing too much."

Say what?

"We talk about (how) when you see too much, you see nothing," Robinson continued. "You have to key and diagnose. Here’s your key, but you’re also seeing this. (If) you to see it all, what ends up happening is you lose sight of everything and you see nothing. All of a sudden, it’s just a blur. Instead of getting started in the proper direction, you take yourself out of position."

In short, micro-managing your position to where you make the proper reads and take the proper pursuit angles.

Robinson points to the throwback pass that Arkansas completed for 35 yards in Texas’ 22-20 win as an example.

"We had two guys there but they were just a little bit late," he said. "They were close to seeing this stuff very well but they were just a step or two off against a very tough ‘read’ play. It’s those things that we’re building on."


Stats are always skewed this time of year, but the Longhorn D is currently rated No. 34 nationally after surrendering an average of 294 yards through two games. Texas is currently giving up 106.5 rushing yards (NCAA No. 40) compared to 152.5 ypg (No. 58) last season. Texas finished the 2003 season yielding 329.8 ypg (NCAA No. 25).

"No game is won or lost by its stats," Robinson said. "There are always little stories within them. You have to study those. The biggest mistake is when you start to say, ‘We did this’ or ‘We did that.’ You’ve got to go back in and study why did it happen. Was it because they didn’t tax you very hard? Was it because they were really good? I’ve been through all of that. You can get misled. You can all of a sudden get your hearts broken or you can’t believe it happened. It’s a miracle. In fact, there’s always a story within a story. I just break (stats) down and find out why things are the way they are."

Head coach Mack Brown wants his D to rank in the Top 10 in every statistical category. Obviously, the most important defensive statistic is ‘Scoring Defense’. Texas is currently rated No. 10 nationally after giving up just 10 ppg.

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