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Coach Robinson talks about the D
Question: Did you see the need last year to kind of load up on more speed guys, as this class looks pretty heavy on speed?
Greg Robinson: "When you say last year when are you referring to?
Question: I'm just saying did you see the need last year?
Greg Robinson: "During the season? Oh yeah. We just did not have any depth. Then all of a sudden we've got to move guys around to try to make pieces fit. We're taking guys that we really did not work with really in spring ball. Yeah we had a need. You're always looking for speed. We got guys that on film and track time and things like that, their world in high school they're good athletes. Now it is bringing it to this level. Like Rich was talking about for some of guys that have developed later. Some guys might be topped out you never know. You'd like to think that some are just going to continue to progress and develop and what they displayed they are even going to be better. We're always looking for it and we knew that we needed numbers."
Question: How many of these guys are going to have to play right away do you feel considering the numbers?
Greg Robinson: "You have to wait and see what spring ball tells us. I know this, we do not have a lot of depth going into spring ball. This isn't like we have three deep guys."
Question: What does Josh Furman bring to the table for you?
Greg Robinson: "As Rich said, he is pretty versatile. He's fast, but he's an athlete. He changes direction well. He'll hit you – good blitzer. He can go out there and cover on a wide receiver. He has some versatility. I like having people that are versatile and that you can utilize in different ways. Stevie Brown gave us some things last year being in that hybrid position. People are thinking of him as a linebacker but he is doing things like a secondary player. It is harder on them. We're better in space."
Question: Is that where you imagine starting him at?
Greg Robinson: "I do not know. I used Stevie as that kind of example of that kind of guy that could do a lot of different things. There is a number of guys that you've talked about here that I think are versatile. Now from what we've seen in high school. I'm interested to see them here on our field in how they compare."
Question: You've been a head coach before and you've dealt with how classes are perceived with the recruiting industry; how frustrating is that sometimes as a head coach, because you may see a kid one way…?
Greg Robinson: "Never frustrated. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion and I really have never and I go back to my days at UCLA. It used to amaze me how we were always ranked in the top 10 and I would go all over the country recruiting kids and they would have this guy rated the number nine player in the country and I'd say wow, I do not know that. You wait and see, time will tell. What they are today, you are looking for that guy that goes on and on and continues to develop, sometimes some of them do not."
Question: How much of that recruiting service stuff do you think is just bunk; where it is just guys who maybe no more qualified than anyone else besides you at this table?
Greg Robinson: "I do not know that. I do not know. I like to think that they find ways. What they do is that they do a lot of talking to people too and it is really a process of elimination in some ways. I think that they do a pretty good job. They provide a lot of information to a lot of people. Not all of it is gospel."
Question: Is that something that you sometimes, human nature would say that if a kid is rated a certain way that you might give him a harder look than another kid; is that tough mentality to keep away from?
Greg Robinson: "I think what we do well is that we get a name. I do not care what it said. He's been identified. We go take a look. We base it on what we think. We pick up different names at times that maybe was under our radar and through services we're able to now do our own evaluation. We're going to always evaluate it ourselves."
Question: Looking a little more towards last season; what do you feel happened towards the end of the year with the defense?
Greg Robinson: "Oh I do not know. It's ancient history. Really when you say that I really felt like we played one of our best games in the last game of the year against Ohio State. I felt our kids really played pretty good. It wasn't good enough to win but it felt like throughout the game they were really competing well and doing everything could to hold their own. It was a lot of young people that maybe as time wore on near the end started to get a little better."
Question: When you look at what you've got to replace, you've kind of touched on it already but in theory you may have to replace your best corner (Donovan Warren), your best defensive lineman (Brandon Graham) for sure and your most consistent linebacker (Stevie Brown); what does that have to do to even build leaders at that point let alone good players?
Greg Robinson: "Time will take care of that. I think that will all kind of work itself out. That's the same way it is every year. Really in Brandon's (Grahams) case, I really do not if somebody is going to walk in and replace Brandon, but what I do think is that there are a number of people that maybe are going to up their game and all of a sudden you may see two, three or four guys will manage the numbers that just walked out the door. We think that's not all bad."
Question: Were you surprised that Donovan left?
Greg Robinson: "I do not know that I was surprised. Not really. I think he felt that this was his time to go give it a go and I think he is sophisticated enough in my dealings with him that he's a mature guy and when I look at it, I say hey Donovan is going to go and compete. He's sophisticated enough in this game of football that he is going to be competitive."
Question: Is Ryan Van Bergen going to be in the middle or is he going to move to the outside?
Greg Robinson: "That part will all take care of itself in another couple two weeks. We haven't earmarked everything yet. Some of this has to do with recruiting and all that stuff. We haven't spent al to of time talking a lot in regards to that."
Question: Because of recruiting?
Greg Robinson: "Yeah."
Question: How much is it going to hurt you that Mike Martin is not even going to be around to do much at spring?
Greg Robinson: "I think that sometimes that's a good thing. One's misfortunate can be another's good fortunate. The nice thing is that we know Mike is going to be back and feeling good. He'll probably feel better than he did during the season. If I go by what I hear form the training room and what have you that I think he is going to be better for it. You know what we're going to develop some depth in spring. That's kind of the way I see it."
Question: Is this class as speedy as everybody bills it as, as far as you can tell? Is that the hallmark of it, if there is a hallmark?
Greg Robinson: "I think there are a lot of good athletes. How much speed it is – time will tell. There is a lot of good athletes."
Question: Was it your decision to coach linebackers?
Greg Robinson: "It really isn't finalized. I know this, if Rich felt that the best fit was to get a guy that can do that and I can go do that. I'm not hung up on where I coach. I coach those guys last year because we were working with a new concept of hybrid type players so it was important to do that. I've worked with inside linebackers. I've worked with defensive lineman. I've worked with boundary corners. I've done a lot of that, worked with the back end."
Question: Losing Brandon and Donovan what are the challenges are this defense?
Greg Robinson: "I just think overall we've got to grow and get better. We've got to become a better defense. We are going to have to get better. Five and seven isn't good enough."
Question: Can this be a better defense without those guys?
Greg Robinson: "Time will tell. I can't sit there and make predictions now. After spring ball you'll have a better idea. After training camp you like to think you know more. After the season you'll get a whole lot better idea."
Question: Who do you think may step up as leaders on the defense this year?
Greg Robinson: "We have some young guys. I think Ryan Van Bergen is going to be a leader. Mike Martin has some leadership abilities to him. Obviously Obi Ezeh has some leadership to him. Even Troy Woolfolk has been around, he's been in the program. Then there is young guys, I know I'm leaving some guys out. Craig Roh is a young guy. Let me tell you something, I think our team likes what he brings. How his demeanor and effort on the football field, I think others see that and are impressed and go to it. He's young. I do not think he has to say a lot, but I think he can infuse just like a number of these guys. Those that are returning I'm looking forward to working with. We need to infuse more. We need to get it where everybody is competing for a job. It isn't by a lost person that is given to the next one. I think it is going to be very competitive."