Sept. 15, 1997
Bruce Snyder Press Conference
We need to look back to several days ago at the game against Miami. Obviously, I am really proud of the team, particularly with the number of young players that we have, for going into the Orange Bowl where there has been a mystique and where Miami has won a lot of games and to play well enough to win the football game. That makes me really proud. The staff did a really great job at schematically coming up with a game plan that worked so well against Miami. They should get a lot of credit for that. We came out of the game relatively healthy, but somewhat banged up. We might loose a little bit of practice time if something comes up, but it's nothing serious. So, I feel good about that. I thought our conditioning was terrific. I think our mental attitude and the toughness about this football team showed me something that I didn't know that we had. Not that I doubted it, I just didn't know we had it. We overcame some adversity and some tough conditions. So, I am pleased with that. There are some individual performances that were really outstanding: J.R. Redmond, Michael Martin, Jeremy Staat, Robert Nycz and Ryan Kealy. We made some tremendous catches too. Kenny Mitchell made a couple of nice passes. Lenzie Jackson did too. Our players did the things they were coached to do. That is why you recruit them and that is why you scholarship them. They need to come in and do certain things to contribute to the team, and the guys did that in this game. I am really pleased. As a coach, I know that this is only one game and that's all it is. It doesn't in and of itself say, "Aha, they are going on another run." It doesn't mean that. It means we won one game. Now it is up to us, it is up to the players, particularly the leaders of our team (the seniors and the veterans), to say that we need to get this behind us and really focus on BYU. I think that it is going to be a terrific game to watch. I think the stadium should be full and the players will play hard and I think BYU will play hard. That is generally how I feel about the game (Miami). The trip there and the trip home were awful. The stadium was great.
(ON MIAMI'S RUNNING GAME): Generally, you have to stop the run. In any game that the team is running the ball, you feel absolutely helpless. You feel like there is hardly anything you can do during the game. We are going to stop the run. That's why we have two really big safeties. Both Mitchell and Damien are almost big enough to be linebackers. The key issue was to stop the run, and I felt that if we could do that, then we could kind of control the rest of it.
(ON THE LAST WIN OVER BYU): That was huge. It really was. It was a close game. I think there was an official's call late in the game that didn't help them, but did help us. I have now coached against LaVell for a lot of years and a lot of games. They are a well-coached, tough football team. There are tough guys on their football team too. That particular game was huge for us. We were struggling. We weren't quite a program yet and that was big. A lot has happened since then, a lot of positive things.
(ON ASU BEING A PROGRAM) I think we have stabilized the staff. I think we have stabilized the players in the program. We lost some to the draft early last year and I think that as you get better, you are going to lose some that way. But what you don't want to do is have a lot of guys that you lose for other reasons, whether that be academic or social or whatever. When you recruit, you need to make sure that they are good recruits in all areas so that you can keep them in the system. The longer you play in a system, they better player you will be. I think all of that shows to me that we are developing a program. We have players that can step up in the place of a Jake Plummer and the place of a Terry Battle or whoever it might be that leaves and can play in big games and win. That is a big key to me, that tells me that we are on our way.
(ON THE MIAMI GAME BEING A BIG GAME): We had some real questions going in. New Mexico State didn't really answer anything other than that we are better than they are. We still have a lot of problems coming out of the Miami game: penalties, turnovers. What it did prove to me is that we are in great physical condition and that on that particular day, we had the heart of a champion. We had the mental toughness of a champion. That I did not know we had going into the game. If we can capture that and keep that going, then I think we can be an awfully good football team.
(ON RYAN KEALY): I think he was under a little bit less pressure there than here. It was his his first start at home here. I think he was a little tighter here than he was there. Being in the Orange Bowl and in a nationally televised game might close your throat up a little, but he was focused and at ease with himself. He knew the game plan and he knew what he needed to do. He was in control. He did not make a bad decision. Even on the interception, that was the right decision. The wind was 50 mph high and I think it knocked the ball down a little bit. Other than that, he played a terrific football game.
(ON THE RUNNING GAME): I do like to run the football. But, I also like to score a lot of points. You get a lot of points by throwing the football. The more catches those receivers have, the higher the number of points. We need to do that. We need to make sue that we keep that alive, particularly when we get into conference play. When I think it is particularly important to run is when we get into the fourth quarter. If you are running effectively in the fourth quarter, that means you are in control and you are in good shape. If we don't run in the first quarter, I am not real concerned. As the game wears on, that's when I want to start running. You have to throw the ball to score more. Plus, it's more fun. You sell more tickets. The 11 p.m. highlights are all catches.
(ON RELYING ON KEALY): I think if a team decided that they are going to stop our run, that they are going to try to take Michael Martin and J.R. Redmond out of the game as far as rushing, I think we can score a lot of points passing. That requires pass protection, receivers catching and Ryan throwing.
(ON THE LINE'S BLOCKING): I think we did a good job. I think the thing we did the best is that we remained out of that fatigue area. Our line is in really good shape. We are still trying to find the right combination of players, particularly on the right side. For the most part, if we can do what we did statistically, then the line is doing it's job. If our numbers are down, then it is probably because our line is not doing its job. Right now our numbers are up, so they get a lot of credit for that.
(ON WHAT ASU WANTS TO DO AGAINST BYU): We would like everyone to see a win because that would give us the momentum going into conference play. That's one. Two is that we would like to lower the number of penalties and become more efficient. The first two games were not particularly efficient from that standpoint. I think our individual tackling has to improve. I think we gang-tackled well against Miami though. Our third-down conversion was around 30% and I would like to get that up. If we convert on third downs at a higher rate, that would really be impressive. We will keep working on that.