Texas vs. OU: It's Why Greg Robinson Is Here

Staring pointblank at the four-game losing skid to Oklahoma that's bracketed by historic losses, it's no stretch to say that Texas hired Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson for <I>this game</I>. What's Robinson's plan for shutting down the Sooners?

The operative word throughout Robinson's Tuesday press conference is that he, on several occasions, described the Oklahoma offense as "complete."

"They're complete," Robinson said of the Sooner offense. "I look forward to finding out where we stand."

Translated: OU has a Heisman winning QB throwing the ball and this week's Sports Illustrated cover boy running it.

Add freshman RB Adrian Peterson (nation's ninth leading rusher who started his first game last Saturday) to a team that set a school scoring record last season (601 points in 14 games), you see why head coach Mack Brown wanted to revamp his defensive staff with NFL experience.

The question of the day, however, was whether Texas will finally unveil the kind of blitz packages that were on display during August camp. And could Texas get sufficient pressure on QB Jason White with its patchworked defensive front? And does Texas have the speed at DE to contain Peterson? And...? And...?

"We're going to do what we have to do," Robinson said matter-of-factly, "and we're capable of doing whatever we have to do to try to win this football game."

Texas has blitzed about a dozen times this season.

"We've come a little bit but we haven't been challenged in such a way that it was necessary," Robinson said. "Each game this year brought a different flavor and, with that, it brought a different emphasis. This game obviously presents a more complete offense than we've faced with the ability to run and throw the ball.

Robinson has never seen the Texas-OU game except on television. Robinson's rookies status in this series prompted OU head coach Bob Stoops to dissect Kansas City game films, where Robinson directed the Chiefs defense from 2001-03, to search for coaching trends. Robinson, meanwhile, has studied films of Kansas State's and LSU's back-to-back wins over the Sooners last season.

"LSU came after them (blitzing) quite a bit," Robinson said. "KSU came some but LSU, they were extreme."

There's been plenty of talk of WLB Derrick Johnson functioning as the designated blitzer (if and when that day comes) but, chances are, D.J. will have his hands full trying to corral Peterson at the corners while helping guard against OU's slant routes that befuddled the UT defense last year. That means the Horns will continue to lean extensively on their down linemen with RDT Rodrique Wright's play status still undisclosed.

(Here's how head coach Mack Brown addressed Wright's ankle injury Tuesday. Brown twice reminded reporters that NCAA statutes prevented him from discussing player injuries and that the trainer's report will be released Thursday, as usual. But when a reporter told Brown that Wright had already pronounced that he was going to play, Brown smiled and said, "Then I would trust Rod.")

With or without Wright, Robinson said something Tuesday that was music to my ears (even though he was stating the obvious). Instead of being intimidated by OU's arsenal of offensive weapons, the key is to get to Jason White who, despite his Heisman credentials, is still not the most mobile of quarterbacks.

"It starts with the quarterback," Robinson said. "He's an excellent player and commander. He really runs the field well. As a passer, he sees coverages. He recognizes things very well. And then he delivers."

But can Texas deliver a sustained pass rush for the first time in five years against the Sooners?

"I'd like to believe that, with the number of guys we're using, that we'll be able to generate some pass rush," Robinson said.

During last January's coaching shuffle (when everybody, it seems, wanted to talk about OC Greg Davis), Brown insisted that Texas' problem "in getting over the hump" was not the offense. Translated: Brown's perception was that the thing that needed fixing was the defense. The numbers from Dallas, at least, lend credence to Brown's assessment. No Orangeblood needs reminding that White riddled the Longhorn secondary (which entered last year's game ranked a deceptive No. 3 nationally) for 363 yards on a 20-of-24 outing. Or, how former RB Quentin Griffin darted for 248 yards in 2002. (It's no small part of the reason why good 'ol former DC Carl Reese is fishing in Missouri these days.)

Enter Greg Robinson. On day one, Robinson stated that his initial task was to instill a new attitude of "controlled violence" into his troops before teaching the fundamentals of tackling. The Horns are currently listed as D-I's No. 17 defense (270.5 ypg) while OU's defense is rated No. 38 overall (324.5 ypg), including last Saturday's win over Texas Tech and its freak show offense. The ultimate litmus test for Robinson's brief tenure, however, is measured the second Saturday in October.

Texas' biggest area of improvement has been in shedding blocks, Robinson believes.

"I think we're getting off blocks and getting to the ball," he said. "I think we're going to the ball hard. For the most part, we're getting into the kind of position to get the kind of hits that we want to get. We're not there yet, but we're getting better. We're seeing that ball now. I think we showed some pass rush (against Baylor) and that was really our first test. They started moving the pocket on us, almost to cool it off. All in all, our guys are starting to understand more and more the style of play that we're trying to establish. We're playing the run better and better."

Texas and OU meet for the 99th time, 11 a.m. Saturday in Dallas.

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