Texas head football coach Charlie Strong has always been known as a defensive-minded coach. Prior to his stint as head coach at Louisville from 2010-2013, Strong served as an assistant or defensive coordinator since 1983, most notably as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida from 2003-2009. At Florida, Strong boasted a large list of accomplishments, most notably producing 13 All-Americans and a National Defensive Player of the Year.
This defensive mindset held by Strong, has been reflected in his recruitment of the Class of 2015, most notably in his recruitment of the defensive backfield. Aside from quarterback Zach Gentry, the Longhorns top recruit from the Class of 2015 is safety DeShon Elliot. Elliot, from Rockwall-Heath High School in Heath, Texas, is the number five ranked safety prospect in the nation according to ESPN.com.
At 6-2, 205 pounds, Elliot is a physical safety who excels at covering larger receivers and stopping the run. Due to this, Elliot has been compared to former Longhorn and current Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas, who was the number 14 pick in the 2010 NFL draft.
To play alongside Elliot, the Longhorns have eyed two cornerback recruits; Iman Marshall from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in Long Beach, California and Kendall Sheffield from Thurgood Marshall High School in Missouri City, Texas.
Both Marshall and Sheffield are highly touted prospects, with Marshall being the top ranked corner prospect and Sheffield being the third ranked corner prospect according to rivals.com. With both prospects being ranked so high, it may be difficult for the Longhorns to compete with top flight programs such as Alabama, Florida State and Ohio State. However, the background of Strong and the success of the Texas secondary in past years should place the Longhorns in the running for the two prospects, both of whom have NFL aspirations.
One key selling point for the Longhorns is their ability to get prospects to the NFL. In the case of Marshall and Sheffield, Texas provides a uniquely impressive pitch, as the program has produced five first-round draft picks in the defensive backfield since 2006, most recently safety Kenny Vaccaro, who was selected by the New Orleans Saints with the 15th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Additionally, Strong produced seven first-round draft picks during his time as defensive coordinator at Florida, including cornerback Joe Haden, who was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the seventh pick in the 2010 draft.
The Class of 2015 is Strong’s first recruiting class and his first chance to mold the team in his image. Strong is a coach who preaches physically and defense, and with the addition of Elliot and possibly Marshall and Sheffield, the Longhorns look to be improving on just that.
After his defense was torched against BYU last weekend for 429 yards at home, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford told the team to “look in the mirror” and face reality.
Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford has some advice for the Longhorns: Take a look in the mirror.
“If you can’t be your worst critic when you wake up in the morning, and you look in the mirror, what do you see?” Bedford said. “Some [players] walk around with a crown on their head all the time. They really need to take the crown off and see reality.”
If the players don’t see reality now — BYU’s 41-7 destruction last week certainly looked like reality — it will hit them full force in Arlington on Saturday. Reality will take the form of Brett Hundley, Heisman candidate UCLA junior quarterback; Myles Jack, sophomore two-way linebacker and running back; and the remainder of the threat that No. 12 UCLA poses. To prepare, the defensive squad is trying to take Bedford’s advice to heart. They didn’t quite look in a literal mirror, but they did watch game film.
“Our whole attitude is that, if we expect something to change, and we want to be the best defense in the country, then we have to act like it,” senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said. “We have to go out there and play with some juice, play angry, play smart and play fundamentally sound. Last week, we didn’t do that.”
The squad found the “little things” that they say prevented their efficiency, as well as the more glaring problems, such as last week’s six missed sacks.
“When you have opportunity in life, you have to make the best of them,” Bedford said. “In the game of football, when the ball is in the air, you have the opportunity to go make a play. We missed a lot of opportunities in that game in the third quarter. We didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
Although Bedford, head coach Charlie Strong and the rest of the coaching staff seek to give the Longhorns as many opportunities as possible once they’re on the field, the road to playing time is longer than it once was. Suspensions abound when players don’t follow the rules, which will leave Texas with a compromised lineup this weekend. But Bedford sees the adjustment as just one more reminder that the players need to face reality.
“If you’re a parent at home, and your child does something wrong [with no consequences], what are you teaching that kid?” Bedford said. “As a football coach, guess what? You’re a parent. You’re a parent, you’re a teacher, you’re a counselor, you’re a psychologist. You’re all of those things in one. You have to be an extension of mom and dad, teach them discipline and how to do [the] little things right.”
As the Longhorn line-up seems to shift by the week — junior quarterback David Ash, senior center Dominic Espinosa and senior receiver Jaxon Shipley have all sustained injuries in recent games — and inexperienced players step up, the parent-child metaphor becomes increasingly apt. The coaching staff seeks to transition new players, just as parents help their children through pivotal life moments. Against BYU, the transition didn’t seem fully developed.
Heading into Arlington, the Longhorns have a chance to prove they’ve hit that development and can handle their first away game, albeit at a neutral venue. The first family vacation isn’t always smooth, but, if Bedford and the “parents” have trained their children well, they should like what they see in the mirror.
Giving up 432 yards in an NFL game is considered bad, but being outgained by 432 yards in an NFL game is, well, atrocious.
The Dallas Cowboys managed to be atrocious and all its synonyms Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome as they were torched by Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints 49-17.
Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was fired by the Cowboys in the offseason, is in laughter after this one. Meanwhile, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones might want to file a complaint to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell accusing Ryan and the Saints of bullying. Here are five reasons why.
1. The Saints set an NFL record by gaining 40 first downs. The Cowboys, on the other hand, ended up with 43 total plays to go with just nine first downs. In other words, the Cowboys made the Saints look like the Baylor Bears out there.
2. Sunday night’s game marked the fourth time this season the Cowboys defense has allowed more than 500 yards, one game away from an NFL single-season record.
3. The Cowboys defense allowed running back Mark Ingram to rush for his first 100-yard performance in his pro career.
4. The Cowboys defense allowed 626 total yards, which set a franchise record, breaking the mark set two weeks ago against the Detroit Lions when it gave up 623.
5. The first pass attempt to Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant didn’t come until 33 minutes into the game, and the first and only catch by Bryant occurred a long 44 minutes into the game. The Saints shut Bryant and the passing game down, as quarterback Tony Romo only threw for 128 yards.
Don’t the Cowboys watch the “NFL GameDay Morning” show like I do when they wake up on Sunday? Marshall Faulk, a pro football hall of famer and current NFL Network analyst, said Sunday morning that the Saints would throw for 400 yards, rush for 150 yards and score 50 points against the Cowboys. Clearly, the Cowboys wanted to make Faulk look like a psychic, as they almost fulfilled his bold prediction.
It gets worse.
The Cowboys lost linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant to hamstring injuries during the game. The banged-up defense is already without defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, defensive end Anthony Spencer and defensive backs J.J. Wilcox and Morris Claiborne. Moreover, defensive end DeMarcus Ware is in and out of games.
To add insult to injury for the Cowboys, their former defensive coordinator has turned the Saints defense around, a unit that is the one of the most improved in the league.
Maybe Ryan wasn’t so bad after all.
In the meantime, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and his defense are one of the least feared in the entire league, especially with all of the injuries it is suffering.
I was never one to question the hire of Kiffin because of how dominant his Tampa Bay defense was back in the early 2000s with Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Derrick Brooks and others. After this loss, though, it is starting to make me scratch my head.
Kiffin’s Cowboys defense this season has now allowed a record-breaking amount of yards twice in three games, and in 2012, his USC defense allowed a school record 730 yards to Oregon.
The Cowboys could be in trouble.
And now for the good news. Cowboys fans can save some heartache because they do not have to watch their team next week.
The Cowboys face a much-needed bye week, as they need the rest and, more importantly, to figure out how to be consistent. One week, the Cowboys could look great and click on all cylinders. The other week, the team may look like one of the worst in the league.
Despite all of the bad the Cowboys are dealing with to go along with a mediocre 5-5 record, they are still tied for first place in the NFC East with the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, this team looked defeated after crawling out of New Orleans on Sunday night.
We will just have to see if the Cowboys can get it together during their time off this week and bounce back in Week 12 when they head to the MetLife Stadium to face the division foe New York Giants.
The NFC East is wide open, from top to bottom. Even the Giants and Washington Redskins still have a shot at being crowned the division champion by the end of the regular season.
The Cowboys have six games remaining on the schedule, three of which are against division teams the Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers. The last two games of the season are on the road against the Redskins, ending with a finale at home against the Eagles.
It looks like this could come down to the last game of the season for the Cowboys, yet again. An 8-8 record seems likely to get a playoff spot to represent the division, but the Cowboys are no longer the only team that has a shot at achieving that record. Simply put, the Cowboys are going to struggle to try and make the playoffs for another year.
Since Greg Robinson took over as defensive coordinator after a Week 2 loss to BYU, the Longhorns’ newfound ability to slow opposing running games has received much of the credit for Texas’ improvements on defense.
Just as important in this turnaround, though, has been the improved play of the Longhorns’ defensive line, and Robinson has taken notice.
“It really does start up front,” Robinson. “I just think our D-line just keeps getting better. I’m really impressed by them and we have depth at that position.”
The Longhorns enjoyed considerable success in rushing the passer to start conference play, racking up 16 sacks and 26 quarterback hurries in their first four Big 12 matchups. Senior defensive tackle Chris Whaley believes the Longhorns continue to improve each week, and he expects the defensive front to get even better as the season progresses.
“We’ve been putting some pretty good things up at the front,” Whaley said. “We’ve been getting better every week. That’s what we’ve got to continue to do. That’s the plan, for us to continue to get better and be dominant every week.”
At the forefront of this has been senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who leads the team with six sacks, all of which have come against conference opponents. Jeffcoat also leads Texas with 11 quarterback hurries and 9.5 tackles for a loss.
Junior defensive end Cedric Reed also enjoyed a strong start to the year in his first season as a starter, leading the team with 46 tackles while accumulating three sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. Reed said the Longhorns defensive linemen maintain a strong chemistry with each other, and he credits Jeffcoat and Whaley for their senior leadership.
“We just came together as a unit,” Reed said. “Right before each game we tell ourselves we have to play like this is our last game. Chris leads us, and Jackson helps us out, and they give us inspirational speeches and they just get us going.”
In addition to the stellar play of their defensive ends, the Longhorns’ interior linemen continue to play a major role in the defensive turnaround. Whaley boasts two sacks, five tackles for a loss and an interception return for a touchdown thus far, while sophomore defensive tackle Malcom Brown recorded 6.5 tackles for a loss and two sacks in the first seven starts of his career this season.
While the Longhorns’ ability to bring down quarterbacks and ball carriers in the backfield provides negative plays for opposing offenses, the defensive line’s impact is also greatly felt by members of the Texas secondary.
“They help us a lot,” senior safety Adrian Phillips said. “We don’t have to cover as long, and if a quarterback does get a pass off it might not be as accurate. We need our d-line to keep playing the way they’re playing. When they have chances to make plays, they make them.”
The Longhorns defensive linemen are hoping to continue making big plays each week, as every quarterback hurry, tackle in the backfield and sack makes the defense even more potent.
The way the game was played, it was hard to believe each team had a blue-chip prospect starting at quarterback.
Garrett Gilbert, the nation’s third-best quarterback prospect coming out of high school in 2009, according to rivals.com, left the game in the second quarter with Texas trailing, 13-0. He would never play another down in a Longhorns uniform.
BYU’s Jake Heaps, rivals.com’s top quarterback prospect in the Class of 2010, was held to 192 yards on 22-for-38 passing with one touchdown pass and two interceptions in the 17-16 loss to the Longhorns two years ago. It was defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s second game on the job and it was a good one.
Heaps won’t have it as easy when he returns to Austin and faces a new-and-improved Greg Robinson-led Longhorns defense this weekend.
Neither Gilbert nor Heaps is with the team they began their college football careers with – Gilbert is now with SMU while Heaps, heavily recruited by former Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis, is now playing for Weis at Kansas.
“Quarterbacks usually don’t stay long unless they’re playing,” Texas head coach Mack Brown said. “No one wants to be the backup quarterback, especially if you’re one of the top players in the country coming in.”
Heaps, after sitting out the 2012 season, is getting his second chance as a starter with the Jayhawks, losers of 25 consecutive games against Big 12 opponents. Kansas has lost its four contests in conference play this year by an average of 27 points, with Heaps going 41-for-90 (45.6 percent) for 442 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions in those games.
He was held to 16 yards on 5-for-13 passing in a 34-19 loss to Oklahoma two weeks ago and completed only seven of 19 passes for 85 yards in a 59-14 defeat to Big 12 frontrunner Baylor last weekend.
The way Diaz’s replacement, Greg Robinson, has the Longhorns defense playing, Heaps is going to have another rough outing when Texas hosts Kansas in its first home game in six weeks this Saturday.
The Longhorns have held Big 12 foes to 19.5 points per game, the fewest in the conference, and limited TCU to seven points – its fewest in a game in more than seven years.
“What Greg did is he settled the defense down,” Weis said. “They already have a formidable front four to start off with and now they just line up and play. They don’t try trickery or anything like that. They just try to be athletes, rather than trying to move them all over the place. The past several weeks, they’re seldom out of position.”
Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed have evolved into one of the country’s best 1-2 pass rush punches while the Texas secondary is suddenly swarming to the ball and a linebackers group without its leader in Jordan Hicks is doing its part as well.
“He was around and watched us but we didn’t really build a relationship with him until now,” Jeffcoat said of Robinson. “So it took a couple weeks and now it feels like he’s been here for a while. Things are starting to click.”
Gilbert passed for 538 yards and four touchdowns while running for 97 more yards and two other scores in a 59-49 victory over Rutgers last week – good enough to earn him Walter Camp national player of the week honors and give him the FBS lead in total yards per game at 408.3, nearly 20 more than the next closest player.
Heaps, meanwhile, is struggling. And his struggles won’t stop when he faces the stiff ball-swarming Greg Robinson-led Longhorns defense this Saturday.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin had not been known for stopping an offense run by Eagles’ head coach Chip Kelly.
In fact, the last time these two went head-to-head was just a year ago at the collegiate level, when Kelly’s Oregon Ducks scored a whopping 62 points against the University of Southern California defense led by Kiffin. USC surrendered 730 yards and nine touchdowns in that game alone, which both set school records. Moreover, in three games against Kiffin’s defense, Oregon averaged 601 total yards and never scored less than 35 points.
Sunday was a different story at Lincoln Financial Field as Kiffin’s defense gave up a mere 278 yards, and in an unforeseen defensive battle, the banged up Cowboys defeated the Eagles 17-3 to gain sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
Even without three starters on the defensive line, the Cowboys held Eagles quarterback Nick Foles to just 80 yards passing before knocking him out of the game after three quarters with a head injury. Rookie quarterback Matt Barkley played in relief but was far from effective, throwing three interceptions in three drives.
On the offensive side of the ball, quarterback Tony Romo threw for 317 yards and one touchdown in his 100th career start. Wide receiver Terrance Williams had a solid game contributing 71 receiving yards and a touchdown.
For the first time this season, the Cowboys went on the road and got a victory. While the win may have been ugly, the Cowboys will take it seeing how they have been devastated by injuries. Obviously the team has things to work on, but maybe not as many things as the rest of the division.
The most important thing to take away from this game is that the Cowboys are now 3-0 in the division for the first time since 2007, when they won the division.
The Cowboys remain on the road as they prepare to face the Detroit Lions in Week 8, a team coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The last time these two teams faced each other was Dec. 9, 2007, when the Cowboys escaped with a 28-27 victory.
Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson has stood on the field of the Cotton Bowl once before. It was 2004 and three months before he helped lead Texas to a Rose Bowl Championship.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever had more fun at a game,” Robinson said. “I hated it that we lost, but man it was just a great experience. But it was a great game and it was so unique. You know I’ve been to the Cotton Bowl before coaching, but it was nothing like what that was like.”
Robinson, just one month after taking over the defensive play caller duties from Manny Diaz, has a much larger task on his hands. He not only faces the pressure of playing against Oklahoma but the pressure of getting a defense back on track that has given up an average of 28.4 points per game this season.
Robinson took over a defense that was, statistically, the worst defense in school history in 2012. Since his arrival back in Austin, he has led a team that has given up an average of 401 total yards of offense per game, 168 of which come on the ground — a slight improvement to the performance Diaz had in the first two games of the season.
The veteran coach, who has tallied two Super Bowl championships, is stepping up to the pressure and looks at it more as an opportunity instead of a hindrance.
“It’s Oklahoma week,” Robinson said. “I would have to think that every year that this is the game that you want to play. This is what it’s all about, and the pressure of wanting to win and beat them is exciting. It’s an opportunity for all of us. I think that’s how you look at it. So that’s the challenge and I think we are all pretty excited about accepting that.”
Robinson has seen improvement since he’s taken over as defensive coordinator. One of the new strong points he’s discovered is communication among his players, who agree the defense is becoming more vocal.
“In the defense, you have the linebackers calling the plays but now once the linebackers make the plays, we have all the safeties and all the D-line talk to each other to know that everyone is on the same page and so everyone can play as one defense,” senior defensive lineman Chris Whaley said.
Robinson took time to adjust to his new team before he was able to make these improvements. But after a month in the play caller spot, he’s started to click with his team.
“After that first week everybody kept working and coaches were helping them out a lot,” Whaley said. “So we’re used to him pretty much. Its like we’ve known him for a long time now. We come out for practice and it’s nothing different.”
Having now found a niche in his role as defensive coordinator, Robinson wants to get the Golden Hat back to Texas.
“I think it is an opportunity for us,” Robinson said. “Really, I think doggone it, you know we want to get it back on our side. So I’d like to think that is the mindset of everyone that is involved with it. We all feel like we have a responsibility to our Texas fans.”
Texas was not sharp on defense in Greg Robinson's first game as the Longhorns defensive coordinator this year, a 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, but was much improved in the following week's victory over Kansas State and is looking to continue progressing this week against Iowa State.
More than three weeks ago, Mack Brown made a change.
After an embarrassing showing in Provo, Utah, the longtime Longhorns head coach got rid of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and brought in Greg Robinson, a familiar face, to replace him. Robinson helped Texas win a Rose Bowl title as its defensive coordinator in 2004. The Longhorns are 1-1 since making his second debut as their defensive coordinator this year and has started to click better with the team since his impromptu arrival.
“[We’re] a lot more comfortable [with Robinson],” said senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “We’re starting to really learn what he wants from us. Everyday he gives us more and it’s easy to pick up because we understand how he coaches, his coaching style, everything like that.”
Since Robinson joined the team, the Longhorns have given up only 387 rushing yards — a huge area of concern for the defense — over two games. That is 163 yards less than the Diaz-led defense gave up on the ground to BYU, the last team Texas faced before Diaz was fired.
Diaz handed Robinson a defense that was, statistically, the worst defense in program history in 2012. Texas allowed 403 yards and 29.2 points per game last year. In the first two games of this season, the Longhorns allowed an average of 23.5 points and 513 total yards per game.
Robinson has helped change that.
“Defensively, you have to give Greg Robinson and the other coaches credit for bringing them back,” head coach Mack Brown said. “The players are obviously there. We missed fewer tackles. We chased the ball better. There were fewer people wide open. I thought that’s the kind of defense we wanted to play coming into the season.”
One of the biggest features that Robinson has brought to the team since his arrival is the outside look he has been able to provide. A two-time Super Bowl winner as the Denver Broncos’ defensive coordinator in the 1990s, Robinson has the ability to examine the team from a new perspective since, unlike Diaz, he hasn’t been around the team and looking at the same thing as them for the past two years.
Jeffcoat even brought in his classroom experience from his Business Management class to explain how Robinson has helped consult the defense with his outside look.
“In class we’ve been talking about something like this,” Jeffcoat said. “In companies you have certain ways you do things and you get stuck in those ways. If you bring somebody from the outside they can oversee and see if there’s a problem that needs to be fixed. It can work better because they aren’t thinking in the same mindset as groupthink and the way the group is. He was that outside guy that came in. He said ‘man I know what your problem is’ and was able to fix it.”
Jeffcoat joked his “company” wasn’t Enron and they weren’t that difficult to fix.
Come Thursday, Robinson will have had 12 days to prepare for Iowa State. He had a bye week gave him extra time to get his defense fully on track with his schemes and a chance to get a better look at the company he is now running.
“I think we are definitely growing,” said senior
cornerback Carrington Byndom. “Of course, it was new when [Robinson] first got here. But this is the second week. We have no choice but to grow, and we will continue to grow throughout the rest of the year. Just keep improving.”
This week, Mack Brown has done something he has never done in his 16 years at Texas—make a coaching change mid-season.
It has happened around college football for the past few years and happens from time to time in the NFL, but under Brown, Texas has never made such a drastic change to its coaching staff like it did when it brought in Greg Robinson as the new defensive coordinator this week.
“Never done this before,” Brown said. “Obviously I’ve changed coordinators at the end of the year on both sides of the ball. Never done it during the season.”
The last time the Longhorns switched up coaches was after their 2010 season where they went 5-7, the first losing season under Brown. The coach revamped his whole coaching staff, a move that brought in now offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and now-demoted Manny Diaz.
Coaching changes, especially mid-season, will either fail for a team or benefit them. The team won’t stay the same.
After starting the season 2-5, Georgia Tech fired its defensive coordinator Al Groh last season. Under the new interim play-caller, the Yellow Jackets went 4-2 and even made an appearance in the ACC Championship game. Georgia Tech was able to clinch a spot in the Sun Bowl where it eventually lost to USC.
Many also know the story of the Baltimore Ravens, who relieved their offensive coordinator Cam Cameron of his duties and promoted Jim Caldwell in his place. That move obviously benefited the Ravens who went on to win the Super Bowl.
Decisions such as these aren’t easy to make, but most of the time they have to be done.
“It [this mid-season change] is a lot different,” Brown said. “But, like I said, I’ve made hard decisions and had to change some coaches before. It’s one of the things in this business that people don’t like. At the same time coaches across the country have to win. The message is you have to make decisions when things aren’t going well to get them fixed.”
Mid-season coaching changes bring an added issue, however. The coach has a week turnaround period to get his squad to where it needs to be. Texas had a total of four practices with Robinson before its first game with the new coach.
“You adjust to [mid-season changes],” senior Carrington Byndom said. “That’s the only thing you can do. We know [Robinson] is going to come in and may implement some of his stuff but you just have to adjust to it. There’s nothing we can do, but continue to play for whoever’s coaching.”
Texas had an advantage, however. Robinson has been with the team since July as an analyst and already has an established relationship with secondary coach Duane Akina, who he co-coordinated with back in 2004.
“It is easier because Duane and Greg [Robinson] have worked together and Greg has been doing nothing but studying us since July,” Brown said. “So this isn’t like bringing someone in from the outside as much as it is someone that I trust with knowledge of us that’s been watching us the last three years who has been studying us every day since he came onboard July the 1st.”
Most fans were sitting in their homes Sunday afternoon, trying to forget the embarrassing shellacking Texas suffered the previous night against BYU, when it was announced Manny Diaz had been relieved of his duties as defensive coordinator.
Then entered Greg Robinson, a veteran coach with 36 years of experience with seasons ranging from Super Bowl wins to barely any wins. Robinson takes over Diaz’s duties after Texas suffered its worst season defensively in 2012 and gave up the most yards in school history
“I think Greg has a track record that’s as good as anybody in this country,” head coach Mack Brown said. “The guy has won Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator, won Rose Bowls as a defensive coordinator. He’s a veteran. He’s a seasoned veteran. He’s confident. Kids gravitate to him. He just makes kids play better.”
Robinson started his coaching career as an assistant at the University of the Pacific in 1975. After stints at Cal State Fullerton, NC State and UCLA, Robinson moved onto the NFL where he became a defensive line coach for the New York Jets. In 1994, the veteran took his first job as a defensive coordinator.
In that first year as a defensive playcaller, the Jets went 6-10 and gave up an average of 18.4 points per game.
He bounced back from that disappointing season, winning two Super Bowl rings with the Denver Broncos. Robinson in 1997 and 1998. They only lost six games those two years, including a 14-2 record in 1998, which remains a franchise record.
After a two-year stretch with Kansas City, Robinson moved to Texas and became the new defensive coordinator for the Longhorns.
Texas fans remember Robinson’s lone season in Austin for the Rose Bowl the team won with his defense. Robinson finished the season Top 25 nationally in scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. His unit gave up only 3.2 yards per carry.
“Greg’s a true veteran,” Brown said. “He makes great adjustments. When he was here before we tackled very well. We chased the ball. We were very sound fundamentally. He’s a guy kids love to play for.”
One of Robinson’s biggest features is halftime adjustment, which Texas has lacked these past two seasons. During their 2004 season, the Longhorns outscored their opponents 105-3 in the second half.
After Texas, however, Robinson’s impressive statistics started to dwindle. As the head coach for Syracuse, he went 10-37 through four seasons, the worst for the Orangemen.
As the defensive coordinator for Michigan, Robinson once again struggled. In his first season, the defense finished 82nd in the nation while in his second season his squad ranked last in the conference in total passing, scoring defense and total defense.
Mack Brown tried his best to excuse Robinson’s past troubles.
“They [Michigan] had really bad players and a bad team,” Brown said. “He came in and I think they made him change the defense to something he didn’t believe in. I’m going to let him get back to what he knows.”
The Longhorns have given Robinson a second chance. In July, he returned to Texas to be a football analyst for the team. He worked out of his Los Angeles home to review film, collect data and help the team make adjustments when needed.
Now he’s back to his old coaching ways. When asked if he’ll turn things around for this team, Mack Brown said it simply.
“I think so,” Brown said. “Or I wouldn’t have brought him back.”