Nov. 24, 1997
Bruce Snyder Press Conference
It seems such a long time since we played, so I think we are going to be anxious to play Friday. We're healthy. I don't see anybody on this squad that's been playing that won't play in this game. Everybody is up and running and going. We had a great practice yesterday. Attitude is good. I was a bit concerned that we may not be that way after Saturday's series of games that were watched in the Pac-10. But, we came back yesterday and had a great practice. I am looking forward to a great game. It will be a hard-fought, good game.
(ON THE PLAYERS' REACTIONS TO THE USC-UCLA AND THE
WASHINGTON-WASHINGTON STATE GAMES)
I wasn't with them, but they came back. Whatever they said is not really important to me; it's how they practice. They clearly sent a message to me that we had a chance six or seven weeks age to beat Washington and we didn't do it. So, we put ourselves at jeopardy in terms of not going back to the Rose Bowl, and it turned out that way. I think they got over it very quickly, and they practiced hard.
(ON WHETHER HE US FOCUSING ON U OF A OR A BOWL GAME RIGHT NOW)
It is 100 percent toward U of A. This game is really significant, even if there was not a bowl system. I think it is really significant for both teams. Obviously for recruiting purposes, and for a winning season for U of A. Is there a momentum swing in terms of the program. There are a lot of things involved, undercurrents. To me, this game is really significant to play and play well. We want to play as hard as we can. So, there is no other thought besides that one.
(ON WHETHER BOTH TEAMS ARE UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE TO WIN THIS
I haven't tried to put myself in Dick's (Tomey) shoes, or their shoes at all, so I don't know what they feel. But, there is some for us. We are on a roll, and we would like to keep that going. We are playing at home, and we had quite a long winning streak at home until the third game of the season. We are now back to three straight wins at home, and we would like to keep that going. Obviously, we are not sure how the bowl invitations are going to fall, but a win will help us a lot more that the other will. There is some pressure there, but I think we have been able to handle it in the past, and I think we will be OK.
(ON WHETHER HE WANTS THE PAC-10 RULES TO BE CHANGED REGARDING A
TIE AND WHICH TEAM GOES TO THE ROSE BOWL)
If I were one of the other teams, I wouldn't want it rewritten. I don't know how you would get around that other than if everybody played everybody. Then, that solves the problem, but that doesn't look like that's going to happen. I'd like to get it to where we are playing nine of the games in conference. I think that would help the problem somewhat.
(ON U OF A)
In some ways, we are parallel teams with different names and different moving pieces, but early on struggling with identity or consistency. I think they have righted that. I think that is one of the true signs of good coaching, and I am not talking about myself, but when a team is struggling, but by the end, by November, the team is up and running, and I think that is what they are doing. I think they are really well-coached. Trung Candidate has really helped, as has Northcutt. Jenkins was absolutely spectatcular in that game against Washington State. He makes good plays; he reminds me a lot of the kid who plays for Oregon, Akili Smith. Their scheme on defense lends a little bit to stopping people and making big plays because of how they stuck and manuever their front. If Salave'a is 100 percent healthy and makes the big plays, he makes a huge difference to me in the scoreboard. He makes the whole team play better. I think they have done a nice job of coaching. They have not panicked. They have just gotten better and better, kind of like what we have done.
(ON WHETHER HE THINKS U OF A HAS CHANGED THEIR OFFENSIVE PLAYS
My feeling is that they call the same type of plays for each kid. Now, maybe with the closed practices and the two weeks, it may not be that way. I am not totally willing to belive that it was just for comfort that they are closed. If you look at the 10 previous games, and look where one is playing over the other, the plays are similar that they call. The difference is when one happens to start moving around. He thinks he's still going to throw, and wants to throw down field. That's Jenkins. The other kid, when he starts moving around, he's looking for a place to run. He's so fast. Like against Cal, he would take off running and make big, big plays. If you rush four men, there is a gap that is not covered, and if he finds that gap, he's down the middle of the field running like crazy. He's faster than anyone we have on our front seven. So, I think the result of the play may change, but not the scheme, not the call.
(ON WHETHER HE WILL ROTATE QUARTERBACKS ON THE SCOUT TEAM)
We have a kid that just did a great job last week: Chad Brown. I am really proud of him. He has not played much. He has played some special teams. He came in as the quarterback. He goes down there and that's his time to be a quarterback. He shows a lot of confidence and good voice, and he runs around. He will be our quarterback all week, and has been: for the scouts.
(ON RYAN KEALY)
Ryan has not exceeded his expectations, but mine. I had no idea really what the season would hold for him, although there was something intuitive involved, I think, when we selected him, Ryan over Steve. At the time, it was a heck of a good battle. Steve was tremendous in the competition. But, there was something there that we liked and felt good about Ryan. I think he is becoming really quite confident in the play calls where everybody is on the field. If you notice in the most recent game, he audibilized a number of times. One, was a beautiful audibile going down the field for a touchdown. He threw a strike to Lenzie Jackson with an audibile, a slant pass to the right side. He changed the protection, and the alignment of the running backs and the receivers. He did a really neat job. So, I think he is just getting better and more comfortable. We have known for a long time that he could throw. We knew that when he was coming out of high school.The man can throw the football. It is the other things that I think he is becoming more and more comfortable with.
(ON WHETHER THERE ARE CONCERNS ABOUT KEALY PLAYING IN HIS FIRST
U OF A GAME)
All of these guys that have never played in it, they don't know. They think they know. Maybe they watched the game as a spectator. But, they really don't know what it's like until they get on that field in that heat of battle. He doesn't. Am I concerned? No, because he has never given me a reason to be in any of the games: the Miami game, the Washington game. He was really cool during all of those. This is different, but he has not given me a reason to be worried. I think he's be fine. We have to protect him. They are really good at sacking, and we are right now leading the league in taking sacks. We have to do a great job of protecting him.
(ON THE RIVALRY BETWEEN ASU AND U OF A)
First of all, we have lots of things to be proud of in the rivalry. It is one of the great rivalries, and not many people really know about it. Auburn-Alabama and Ohio State-Michigan are more publicized, and they get a lot more exposure. But, in terms of pure, unadulterated emotion, and playing a game, and the tempo, I have never been around one that is any better than this, and we should be proud of that. The thing that we want to do, that Dick (Tomey) and I put in that letter last year at the conclusion, is say that nobody is proud of unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Nobody is proud of having one of your players ejected. The game deserves more than that. Now, there will be flags, but I think we need to maintain our poise and understand that the win is much more important than any individual emotion or selfishness that we might have. I really think that this team has learned a lot from last year. They have been coachable all year. They do what I ask them to do, and I think we are going to go into the game playing as hard as we can play. We need to keep the selfish reactions out of it. There are other pieces of it that influence players: what is printed, what is aired, what fans say, what old-time fans say about it. A lot of people use the word hate very liberally. I know that at least one week out of the year, we don't like each other very much, but I think that all has an influence on the game, and sometimes it gets out of hand. We're two great universities that ought to have a great time playing against each other.