Head Coach Bruce Snyder recently met the media as Arizona State University is in the middle of its 15 spring practices in preparation for the 1998 season which begins September 5 against Washington in Sun Devil Stadium. Below are some of the comments he made:
ON THE LOSSES TO THE DEFENSIVE LINE:
"I think that's one of the places where we lost the most talent, with Hamilton (Mee), Jeremy (Staat), and Vince (Amey), but Albrey Battle has got to step up, and a veteran player, Ryan Reilly is a veteran player, Quincy Yancy...I think he'll be fine at the defensive end spot. I think we're facing the same situation at the rush position as we did a year ago. I'm not quite sure who that's going to be. Derrick Ford is running first team right now and shows flashes of being very fast, very athletic. That whole group needs to be solidified. Jawell Samilton is a new player on campus, out of junior college as a DT, and we have a couple of guys coming in the fall who we think are going to help."
ON HIS IMPRESSION OF HOW THE TEAM HAS DONE SO FAR IN SPRING FOOTBALL:
"We practiced four days before spring break... Well, what I think happened is the first three days they were trying to figure out left from right and all that stuff. The fourth day they were thinking about spring break- where's Lake Havasu? And where's Rocky Point? So I'm not real sure we got a whole lot out of the first four days. I was really frustrated, in fact, during spring break. But, we came back Monday and it was as good a football practice you could have in spring, and we backed it up yesterday with another real good one. So I'm now feeling better. I'm feeling better about this whole thing."
ON THE INTENSITY AND QUALITY OF SPRING PRACTICES:
"Well, without a real game to point toward, and the excitement, there's no crowd, there's no game plan, so what you do is you go out there and you hit each other and you develop skills. And so sometimes I think.....they start counting the thing off, and you end up not having the focus at practice that you need. When you do have one, like we did Monday, and then we backed it up Tuesday, it does so much for a coach and you say that's what we're supposed to do every time we go out. If we can continue that, if we could do that for the next seven or eight practices, then we really have accomplished a lot this spring."
ON THE LIMITS OF SPRING FOOTBALL:
"What has happened, is like every other part of Division I football has become highly legislated. Now, we have some regulations that we have to go by...You must have two days of non padded work to start the thing off. You can only have eight days with pads, with no tackling, you can have three days in which you can have 11 on 11, 50% or more tackling....We have it totally patterned down. But it's not totally different than what we have been doing up until now anyway, in terms of the way I practice. But it is now legislated, and what they're wanting to do is really see whether we can cut down on injuries in spring football. That's the idea. None of us want injuries ever, but there are times when you must teach a man how to tackle, and if you don't he's going to wind up with a more severe injury later. So, you had better do it sometime. People say, 'We'll do it in the fall camp.' Well, that's 10 days and you're getting ready for a game. We're playing Washington in the first game. This is a violent collision, and I don't know if you can teach tackling just in a ten-day period. So, we need spring ball."
ON SOME OF THE NEW PLAYERS AND THE EXPECTATIONS ASSOCIATED WITH THE PLAYERS WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED THE RECENT SUCCESS OF THE PROGRAM:
"I think that is a real positive sign. If you look at our media guide, some of those names you've heard for several years. I mean how long have you been hearing J.R. Redmond's name? Albrey Battle, Lenzie Jackson, Grey Reugamer? I think that's a good sign that you have really good players in your program for a number of years. They're not just a year in and in a year they're gone. But, in my way of thinking, I think your stars, the guys that you really publicize, should be seniors. If they're good enough, let's publicize the senior. That doesn't mean that a junior and a sophomore isn't a good player. Jeremy Staat, is gone. Hamilton Mee is gone. Vince Amey is gone.There are some guys behind them that people may not know much about, but we expect to step up. Quincy Yancy, Ryan Reilly they're going to have to step up. Derrick Ford is going to have to step up. We did feel a need by going out and getting help on the defensive front. We went out and got Jawell Samilton, kind of a big interior run-stopper. We got Junior Ionae out of junior college in Utah. I tell you what, if he plays as good as he looks .... And, a fellow by the name of Erik Flowers out of Trinity, Texas, who is more of a rush end type of guy. I think that if they mature and come along and have these kind of practices that I mentioned.... If they keep having those kind of practices, we're going to be fine."
ON HOW THE TEAM WILL TRY TO COMPENSATE FOR THE LOSS OF LB PAT TILLMAN:
"To replace Pat Tillman - that's a huge gap. We have some other players obviously too, it's not all Pat. But, Pat was instrumental and made a lot of plays. Some of these young guys, Stephen Trejo, a bright young guy out of Casa Grande, very, very bright, has a different personality, although everyone in the world has a different personality than Pat Tillman. But I think Steven Trejo may step up and be there. Joe Cesta is a senior linebacker and he's got to step up and do those kind of things. This sounds kind of cool maybe a bit, but my dad used to say, 'When you pull your hand out of a bucket of water the water fills in the hole, it doesn't stay with a hole in it.' You've have guys move on. Jake Plummer moved on, who stepped up? Ryan Kealy. We're just hopeful these guys will do that."
ON HAVING SO MANY OFFENSIVE PLAYERS RETURNING:
"We have every receiver back, and we have, I think arguably the best tailback in the Pac-10, and maybe the United States, in J.R. Redmond. We fully expect Ryan Kealy to return, Jeff Paulk is back. All the tight ends are returning. I've never had this many offensive weapons returning. I cannot say the same defensively. I tell you what, that's been our strength, if you really look at it."