Posted by Jerry Hinnen
The 2011 Arkansas defense was supposed to be the Razorbacks' best yet under Bobby Petrino, with star seniors like defensive end Jake Bequette and linebacker Jerry Franklin. That didn't happen, and so it's probably not a coincidence that defensive coordinator Willy Robinson resigned his position Tuesday.
"I want to thank Willy Robinson for his role in helping our defense, which he leaves in better shape than when he arrived," Petrino said in a statement. "I have the utmost respect for Willy Robinson as an individual who wants the best for the young men he coaches. I give Willy credit for his part in the building process the last four years and wish him future success."
Robinson's departure continues a substantial shakeup on the Razorback coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Garrick McGee recently accepted the UAB head coaching position and special teams coach John L. Smith has done the same at FCS Weber State, making Robinson the third Hog assistant to leave in three days.
Robinson had been in Fayetteville for all four years of Petrino's Razorback tenure but had come under fire for his first two defenses, both of which finished in the bottom half of the FBS in total defense; his 2009 unit ranked dead last in the SEC in total defense, yards per-play, and pass defense. Petrino stuck by Robinson and was rewarded with substantial improvement in 2010, as the Hogs cut their yards given up per-play by more than a half yard, finished 36th in the FBS in total defense, and placed fifth in the SEC in total D.
But even with the most experienced defense of his tenure and an SEC as offensively deficient as it's been in years, the Razorbacks still backslid in 2011, finishing 51st in the FBS in total defense and ninth in the SEC. Rush defense was a particular problem; the Hogs gave up an average of 203 yards on the ground to their nine BCS-level opponents and finished 79th in the FBS.