Nov. 3, 1997
Bruce Snyder Press Conference
That was really a wild night Saturday night. It was a lot of fun. There were three routs: we routed, they routed, we routed. There were some really great performances. I thought Ryan Kealy's performance was outstanding. Marcus Williams did the best job of punting I think I have ever seen in a college football game. He coverage was also really good, as was that whole unit's. Mitchell Freedman has his fingerprints all over that win in terms of making some really key plays. Lenzie Jackson had never caught nine passes in a ball game before, and he caught nine Saturday night. So, he's all over it. Kenny Mitchell is, I think, making plays now that maybe earlier he wasn't. He is coming into his own again. All in all, I am really proud of the staff that got the team ready to play. After a bye, one of the most concerning things to a coach is how you will start the game because of the layoff, and whether you have lost the tempo or whether you are going to feel your way around. That was not the case Saturday night. That was really a beautiful half of football, that first half. It was really a good game. We did become injured a bit. Particularly with Marvel Smith, but I am really pleased with the win against a top-10 team.
(ON MARVEL SMITH): It is an ankle injury. It is an ankle on a 320-pound man. He wanted to go back in in the second half, which is a really positive sign. But, he was clearly not able to do it. We ran Sunday night as a team. He could not do anything on it. I hate to be pessimistic, but I think we will be fortunate to have him for Cal. I prefer to be wrong, but my instincts and my gut tell me that it's going to be awhile.
(ON OTHER INJURIES): Victor Leyva could not run last night either. He is having a bit of a leg problem: his hip flexor. Ricky Boyer did not run. Michael Martin did not run. So, we have a situation where if you don't run conditioning, you have to get in a circle. We call it the circle of pain. We try to make it so painful in the circle that you'd rather be running, and it's been fairly effective for the last two games. But, last night, we had way too many guys in the circle. We're banged up.
(ON TROY DAVIS REPLACING MARVEL SMITH): Troy Davis came in for Marvel and got off to a little bit of a slow start. He has not played much, but I think he finished the game fine. He got into the groove, and I think he did a nice job. I would expect Victor to be much more likely to be ready (to play at Cal) than Marvel.
(ON TRYING TO GET THE TEAM MOTIVATED TO PLAY CAL): I am a little concerned about that. We really spent a lot of time and effort on the Washington State game, a lot of staff energy, a lot of player energy. Some coaches believe that for every high there is a low. That is what you want to prevent in this case. I really think that Cal is getting better. They have gotten some players back that are healthy now that they didn't have earlier. If we play aginst Cal like we played against BYU, we will lose. We will lose if we play the way we did against Oregon State. Our level of play certainly has to be better than that, and we are fully capable of being better. I think we are mature enough to understand that you cannot take a week off. You just cannot do it in this league.
(ON THE BEHAVIOR OF THE TEAM): I base almost everything on practice habits and a number of distractions off the field. Those are the two things that will tell whether your team is light. You know, whether their playing is light, whether their offswitch is off or not. It was during the Washington week (before the game), that I said hey, the switch is on. Distractions went to zero. Practice habits were fine all week. We didn't win the game, but the turnaround for this team started before the Washington game. We have been rather consistent through this whole time period with those two key issues. We practice hard, and I am having very few issues in my office other than football. That is a nice deal.
(ON RYAN KEALY HAVING A TURNAROUND IN THE WASHINGTON GAME): Danny Cozzetto and the rest of the offensive staff have really done a nice job. It started in the Washington game where we just challenged the receivers: you must make plays. We also called plays that allowed them to make plays, and allowed Ryan to use his ability. I think the whole thing started coming together in the second half of the Washington game. He took a beating. I think we gave up six sacks. But, still, we were wide open and he was throwing the ball, and that we could capitalize on the next week. He looked awfully good at Miami, didn't he. It's kind of an up and down deal. But, certainly over the last three weeks, the design of the play, the call of the play and the use of his abilites have really let him blossom.
(ON THE CONTINUITY OF THE COACHES): In this business, you want everybody to get ahead. Like most people's business, there is a ladder that you climb, and you want that for people that have been good to you. This is my 11th year together with Phil Snow as an assistant, his third year as coordinator. Danny Cozzetto and I have been around each other for eight or nine years. He has been the coordinator for his entire time here. Dick Arbuckle and I go way back personally, and professionally too. That continuity helps players. They play better because of understanding. You don't have to change language. As soon as you bring in a new coordinator, he wants to bring in all his own terminology. That's why I tell the coordinators, I have not had a chance to hire anybody, but they have to learn mine. I'm too old to learn a new language. I don't want the players to go through a transition in terms of that. That is a key issue in our success. Not only the continuity, but they're good. To have continuity with bad ones is not a really good deal. But, they are good, and they have been around each other. I believe that I could leave for any length of time, and they would know what I would expect, and that's what they would do. Also, if they were to leave, I think I could pick up where they are. That's a neat deal to have in your staff.
(ON MITCHELL FREEDMAN): For a number of years, I think we have all recognized that Mitchell Freedman is really a fine performer. He performs. He makes plays, he kicks the ball out, he tackles. Right now he is really a terrific team member. I really compliment him and our coach Donnie Henderson on working their way through a tough time period. Mitchell Freedman is a Sun Devil, and he really cares about the success of this team. His game the other night, particularly on five plays, was huge. They were big plays. He's fun to be around, he's good to coach and he's demanding. When he first came back onto the team, we told him that if he was going to be a starter, he was going to have to work his way back. We are basically two deep, so he was on the second unit. Second team people tend to play like second team people. They don't prepare as hard, they don't play as hard and their detail is not as detailed. People say, well, that is why they are second teamers, and that's true. He could not stand it. He said, "I don't mind me being on second team, but I don't like you guys playing like that." He thought it was crazy to ever go to a practice field and not give it everything you've got. I thought that was a terrific example. In his own way, that is really strong leadership for the whole team. He does not tolerate people not doing what they're supposed to do. There's no sympathy. We had a situation the other night, where it was not going very well, and we had a player not doing what he was supposed to do. It did not take Mitch but one second to explain to that guy that that is unacceptable. I really like him for so much of what he is, and he is a good team member.