Robinson verbatim, Mountain West teleconference

UNLV coach sounds off on playing Wisconsin, injuries to his team and his team's travel schedule

Opening statement

"Well, we could not stay with Tennessee. We had some opportunities early. In the first half, we got inside their 20 three times but only came away with threes. You don't get too many chances. They are a very powerful offensive team. I think they made a move to go to two freshmen quarterbacks and both of them looked like future stars. No. 7, [Brent] Schaeffer…looks like Michael Vick and I think he has that kind of potential.

"We were disappointed defensively in our tackling. We just didn't tackle very well. They had a good plan and they hit us in some spots. Tackling and pass defense were probably disappointing for us.

"Offensively, we made two big errors. We threw an interception on just a totally misread thing down by their goal line and had a fumble down by their goal line.

"Dominique Dorsey had over 200 yards, all purpose yards against them and just had a great game. We had eight receptions by our wide receiver, Earvin Johnson, and felt kind of OK about our offense. I think we're making progress.

"We lost two more players in the game. We lost Ryan Welter, who is an outstanding special teams guy and a really kind of a good pass-rush linebacker. He's out for the year with a knee. And Brandon Gray was injured and is out, whether it's 4-6 weeks, probably for him. So, we have something like seven or eight really front-line players that are out. Four or five of them will come back at some point in the year but it's leaving us a little short. There a few extra seats on the airplane going on the trip.

"While we were playing Sunday night, Wisconsin was watching the game and had practiced and then watched the game. So we're going back to a well-rested team that we upset last year. I'm sure they are focused this year on us. It looks like they have a good team. I'm very impressed with their defense. They seem to be a dominant group from a defensive standpoint…how they develop in the Big Ten, I think they are one of teams that is considered, after the top two, considered having a chance. I've always been impressed with their football and it's pretty damn consistent.

"We haven't had much time off. We just have to get right back on the practice field and go. Four trips across the country in six days can take something out of you, but maybe it just takes it out of the coaches and not the players. I think we have the makings of a good team. I think every team has adversity and we seem to be in it right now both with the schedule circumstances and with a fairly large injury list. But both of those things will change and I think we'll come out strong. I'll answer any questions."

John are you having any second thoughts about this ambitious schedule to start the season now that you are in the middle of a short week?

"I'm on my sixth thoughts now about it. I had bad thoughts when we started it. I think we knew what we were doing it. I think it's a great deal, opportunity wise. Playing back there in Tennessee was fabulous. That was a fabulous night. The scoreboard was lousy but other than that, it was a fabulous experience. And playing in Wisconsin, there aren't two places with more renowned fans or a more renowned environment. For guys like us, that's a real treat. We certainly would like a little more space and all of that but the opportunity to play these games is overriding for them."

What do you think is the biggest challenge of the short week? Physically, mentally?

"Probably a little of both. The biggest challenge is school. They may not fit that in. Realistically, I suppose, it is readjusting yourself to getting on a game. A lot of teams in the NFL that play Sunday, Thursday, they play pretty good. I think we are a team that's learning. We're trying to get new players in there to fill in some of the spots that have been injured. So, we can't afford to kind of rest and relax and focus. We have to go out and practice and try to get our team better."

Why was your blitz so effective against Wisconsin last year? Was it schematic or were you just beating them one-on-one?

"Probably a little bit of both. Probably just one of those days and we surprised them, I guess."

Do you think they'll have a better plan for Jamaal Brimmer this year?

"I'm sure they will. That's something you neutralize and you pay attention to obviously."

How big was that victory over Wisconsin for your program, John, last year?

"It was big for four or five days. You've got to play again the next week. You don't get off that kind of thing. I think a lot of people talk about it and remember it and people around you say, ‘oh boy, I remember that game.' But for the guys playing, you've got to get ready to play the next week. We had a stretch not long after that where I think we lost three or four in a row and that really hurt us but it was a great day. And that's all football games are. They are one day, they are one effort. When it's over you say ‘nice going' or ‘damn it, we didn't get it done."

Will you have to tinker with your practice schedule this week and how much can you take from your experience in the NFL, where I'm sure you had to deal with short weeks, including probably a Sunday-to-Thursday at some point?

"Well, I just think you try to get back on the same routine. I think now it's Tuesday, we are having our normal Tuesday night practice tonight. I think you try to tell them, ‘Hey, this is, you're normal, everything is fine, don't worry about it.' It probably is. In the NFL we used to lie to them and say they were rested and say this and that. They're not all that smart so they say, ‘Yeah, this is good. We'll be sharp.' I honestly don't have an answer for you. There are so many things that in sports that you just take as they come. The worst thing you can do is make a lot out of them. ‘Gee, it's cold outside,' or, ‘We're playing at altitude,' or, ‘It's humid,' or anything. Those things become psychologically damaging to you if you acknowledge them, so we're well-rested and looking forward."

Have you seen any difference in Wisconsin's line play in the one game you've looked at this year, their defensive line, I mean, versus last year, what you saw in that game?

"Well, they're all seniors and they're impressive. It may be the best—we've just seen one game and they may be the best defensive line that I've seen for a while. It's a quick observation but I think it might be accurate. It's an impressive group."

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