Robinson: Defense Jells In Team Win

Coaches talk of the importance of when an offensive line starts to jell. But the most critical piece of Texas’ 51-21 win in Lubbock may have been that its revamped defense congealed just in time for the nation’s most prolific passing attack.

"The way that it was working was that the world was all over the place," Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson said Tuesday. "Like Mack (Brown) said, it was a team win. And when the defense was on the field, it was a defensive win. It wasn’t any one specific group. It was just a lot of guys jelling and creating problems. That’s really what the game came down to."

MLB Aaron Harris and NB Michael Griffin led the defensive surge with eight tackles each.

"The ball got out on the edges a lot and the corners were making plays and making tackles," Robinson said. "The design was more of that."

Tech did not score a passing TD until Texas had built a 48-14 lead with little more than nine minutes remaining. The 21 points was the fewest the Red Raider offense produced during coach Mike Leach's five-year stint in Lubbock.

STRONG TO THE FINISH

Arguably, the biggest improvement Robinson has brought to the defense is the method by which the entire team is punished for every individual lapse in effort detected on game day. We mentioned last month that players are now subjected each Sunday to NOS (Not Our Standard) drills, an up-down calisthenics regiment in which the number of reps is based upon the cumulative instances of lazy steps in the previous night’s ball game. In short, one’s effort should not be predicated upon score, time remaining, down-and-distance, or if the first team is off the field.

Evidence that the Longhorns are taking the procedure to heart was on display during Texas Tech’s final drive Saturday. By that time, Robinson was fielding backups on his front seven but reported a level of defensive intensity more indicative of the first quarter. The group kept the Red Raiders out of the end zone to preserve the 30-point rout.

"Those guys that were out there were just battling," Robinson said. "They were just bonkers. They were trying real hard and, if I’m not mistaken, (Tech) had real people out there. Did you see that darn little (RDT) Derek Lokey in there clawing and scratching? (RDE Neale) Tweedie and (SLB Stevie) Stigall were all in the right position. It was great for all those guys. It makes a statement."

MOST IMPROVED PLAYER?

Robinson is such a team-oriented guy that he hates to single out a player as most deserving of mid-season ‘most improved’ honors. But if he did, that honor would go to (a drum roll, please) RCB Cedric Griffin.

"All of a sudden during the second half of spring ball, Ced Griffin was starting to feel it. He was starting to come on. Then, all of a sudden, in training camp I felt like he was progressing right there. Duane (Akina) felt the same way. I could see the way he’s preparing and how he’s on his game. I can see him really developing. It’s good to see."

One of eight Longhorns credited with an INT this season, Griffin has also registered four PBU, two TFL, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

"I think he's become a very consistent player. I think he's always flashed talent, but through his preparation and work habits on the practice field, I've seen some real consistency in his play."

WRIGHT PLAYING WITH PAIN

LDT Rodrique Wright is still not 100 percent following last month’s ankle sprain suffered against Rice, but he’s closer than ever to full recovery, Robinson said.

"He's still favoring his ankle, you can tell. He's trying to fight through it. Let me tell you something: it's very hard for a defensive player to hide an ankle injury or a leg injury. In this day and age, the game is just too fast. Your movement is just too critical. You can tell, at times, that he's still feeling it. It's frustrating. He just doesn't have the confidence yet. He's playing, but the moment that (DT Coach Mike Tolleson) can see that he's favoring it a little bit, he pulls him to try to get him rested and try to get him back."

Any prognosis?

"He felt like after the game that he wasn't feeling worse like he was the week before. The week before, he was really sore. I think he's feeling better."

BUT IS COLORADO ON THE MEND?

"I see an improving football team," Robinson said. "I see them getting better the past couple of games."

Colorado, though, started the season with a 3-0 mark (against non-conference teams with losing records) but has gone 1-3 once Big 12 play began. The Buff’s only win since September 18 was a 19-14 home win over North Division cellar dweller Iowa State.

Then again, the Buffs took Texas A&M to OT at Kyle Field Saturday before RB Bobby Purify fumbled at the Aggie 12. The result was CU’s second-straight loss to a Big 12 South Division team (Okie State and A&M).

"They ran the ball well (at A&M)," Robinson said, after the Buffs racked up 510 yards in the losing effort. "You could see the improvement at A&M. They really moved the football."

Texas faces Colorado at Boulder, 2:30 p.m. (CDT), in an ABC regional telecast.


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