April 15, 2003
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
(This is the third in a series of articles with members of Joe Glenn's 2003 football staff. Today meet defensive line coach Lance Robinson.)
Lance Robinson has a wager with his defensive line.
Robinson coaches Wyoming's defensive front, and after three highly successful years at the University of Montana with Joe Glenn, he's ready to return Wyoming to the defensive line tradition it knew while producing such greats as Mike Dirks, Larry Nels, Mitch Donahue, Pat Rabold, and Dave Edeen.
A hard-nosed Montana graduate who had coached in the program for six seasons, including the three with Glenn, Robinson has been pleased with the progress of his defensive line. He's been so impressed, in fact, that he has challenged members of his front to a friendly bet.
"I told them that if they get 30 sacks this season, I will get a tattoo," he smiles.
That's a pretty optimistic total given the fact Wyoming's entire defense recorded just 10 sacks all of last year.
"I think these guys are capable of doing it," says the soft-spoken Robinson. "Besides, I think they would love to see me get another tattoo."
That's correct, Robinson said "another tattoo". He already has one, on his right leg just above the ankle. He got that one after challenging Montana's defensive line. "I challenged them too. They accepted it, and were successful. They could not wait until I went down, and had it done," he said. The tattoo is that of a good-luck shamrock.
"We'll see how these Cowboys do," Robinson said. "But I challenged them because I believe they can get it done. I have never been around a group of harder-working guys. They are just a great bunch. They are a pleasure to be around.
"Sure, we are a work in progress, but we are very capable," Robinson continued. " I would say we have seven guys who we are comfortable with right now. That is not enough, we are looking for 11 or 12. A couple of those may come out of the incoming freshman class. The group we have together now is very interchangeable. Tackles will be able to play on the outside, and ends will play on the inside."
There was really never a doubt that Robinson, his wife, Shoni, and their two children (daughter Taylor, and son Wynn) would be coming to Wyoming with Glenn. But it was a difficult move. "I knew I would come with him, never a doubt, but my family, Shoni's family and all of our friends are in Montana. So it was a difficult move, but I wanted to be with him. This coaching staff is like a family. It's a lot of fun to coach with this bunch."
Robinson was a two-year football letterman at Montana Tech (Butte), as a safety and corner. He then transferred to the University of Montana, retiring from football, to concentrate on academics. He earned his degree in exercise science in 1997.
"I wanted to be a coach, and I was willing to pay the dues to do so," Robinson said. "I became friends with a Montana assistant by the name of Phil Ryan, and he talked me into talking with the head football coach at the time, Mick Dennehy (head coach at Montana from 1996-99). I had coached high school ball, and I wanted to remain in the game.
"Mick gave me a chance. I began as a volunteer coach I did all kinds of things. I was involved in taking care of our film duties, but I also got a chance to coach a little. After that year, a full-time spot opened up, and I was hired to work with the defensive front. When Joe came, he kept me on which was terrific. I have loved every minute, especially with this coaching staff. They are all great competitors, and we are like a family. It's a great atmosphere.
"We all work well together. Yes, we are competitive, and yes we'll get after each other, just like any family. But when you work together like we do, you can get through the tough times. Although our guys bang heads all the time, Chad (offensive line coach Germer) and I really work closely together. We can help each other. I've learned a lot from him about the mentality of an offensive lineman, how they think, and how they like to attack a defense. Believe me our kids know that Chad and I are very competitive. But the way we relate to each other tells them how much we must stick together."
Robinson said he is a bit surprised how much the members of his front have learned in such a short period of time. He said he believes they are a good group of tough football players. We also have a lot of guys with a lot of heart.
"Depth is a concern for us, but I really like everyone's approach to what we are doing. Each one of our players up front must learn every position because of that lack of depth. I like the senior leadership too.
"Montana and Wyoming are very similar. We were very tuned in as to how much pride they had in their school, and their state. Our fans here in Wyoming are very similar. There's a lot of pride in this state, and they are going to like what they see on the field."
Robinson said one of the major goals of the spring was to install the defense, and get a basic package established. "We want to have something we can hang our hat on, something our guys will get comfortable with. Unlike the kids were used to last year, we don't scheme for each team, each and every week.
"We are going to stay with the same thing each and every week, but we will taylor it to that particular opponent. We will have our bread-and-butter defense that the players will know is going to be there."
Robinson said his most pleasant surprise of spring practice has been tackle Derrick Glasper, a sophomore from Austin, Texas. "He could turn into a big asset," Robinson said. "He is very strong, and has a great understandingof leverage. I think he could really help us."
Robinson also has been impressed with defensive tackle Zach Morris. The junior from Denver, had a great day last Saturday, during Wyoming's first scrimmage, and he impressed his position coach. "He's got that outstandingmixture of strenght, quickness, and savvy, Robinson said. "I think he's going to be an outstanding player."
"I told these guys that while learning all this stuff, we will make mistakes. We are not robots, we are players who will make mistakes. Just go 100-miles-an-hour, and if you make a mistake, we'll get it corrected. They want to win, they are competitors, and they will be just fine."
Those guys would just love to see a tattoo on Robinson's left leg.