Sept. 8, 1997
Bruce Snyder Press Conference
This (Miami game) is the first real test for this 1997 football team. It is good that we played the first game. We did not play particularly well. There are so many things involved in that game that we need to improve and we have a had about a week and a half of practice now since that game. I think we corrected many of the problems that we had. We are relatively healthy. Nobody was injured in the game. We do have one ankle problem with Thomas Simmons. It is going to be a day-to-day situation to see whether Thomas will play or whether he will even make the trip. The rest of the team is healthy. I think they are excited about playing. I think there is a sense of nervousness which there should be after watching Miami take apart Baylor at Waco. I am really excited. I like playing big games anyway, which this is. In a way, it means a lot of different things. I think we are all excited about it.
(ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MIAMI AND NEW MEXICO STATE BEING LIKE NIGHT AND DAY): New Mexico State is a program that is just beginning with Coach Samuels and there just isn't a lot of talent there to begin with. They were well-coached. I thought they gave a great effort. They played very hard against us. They were just short-handed. We went out and worked out the day after that game, and one of my players was standing near me. He said to me, "Coach, had that been a much better team, we probably would not have won." I said, "I think that's probably true." Miami has talent. They may not be as deep as they used to be, but they can run, they hit and they have a lot of pride and tradition. They very seldom lose in the Orange Bowl, so I think it is a major challenge for us.
(MORE CONCERNED WITH DARYL MCMILLAN OR EDGERRIN JAMES?): Probably McMillan. I don't know them personally, and my impression of running backs involves knowing a guy. What I do know of him, it seems like he is a very tough, hard-nosed, really good football player. They both are, but I believe McMillan is the better one. McMillan is the starter.
(ON THE ORANGE BOWL): Any stadium carries a mystique that has a good team that lines up in it. If a bad team lines up in it, it becomes just another place to sit people. Miami is good. I have not been in the Orange Bowl for a number of years. A number of our players have been in the Rose Bowl and in Nebraska and Washington. I think we will be OK. We cannot allow some mystique to be a factor.
(ON JAMMI GERMAN NOT PLAYING): The issue about coaching football and developing a team is really us - not the opponent. You have no control over their personnel and what they do and how they use them. I think the more you are concerned about the other guy, the less effective you are. They are going to line up where they line up. They have good players, so we have to focus on ourselves. What our team does concerns me a lot more than whether their lineup includes German or not.
(ON THE FIRST ROAD TRIP AND THE FIRST BIG GAME FOR MANY PLAYERS): I am very curious to see how the team will do. A part of our team is very mature. They will just march down there and play. We are traveling with a lot of guys who have not done it, or if they have, it was in an observer's role. It's different. When you are getting ready to play, the nerves are different. The blood pressure is different. I am curious to see whether we can go down there and focus on what is important. Being on television is not important to whether we win or lose the game. I think to some young people it is important, and it shouldn't be. It is a distraction and we shouldn't focus on that. We should focus on ourselves. I don't know how we are going to do. I think this is one of the good reasons we are scheduled where we are because we are going to have to make some road trips. If we can learn from this trip and come back with a better understanding of how to play on the road, then it will help us.
A win can slingshot us into the future. It will change the rankings, and it will change our impressions of ourselves. If we get blown out, we have to come back and start piecing everything together again. I am going to look at how we traveled as opposed to focusing so much on the score. Did we go down there with a purpose? Could we focus on what's important? Did we play through adversity? Did we play the fourth quarter better than they could in terms of conditioning? I think if all those things line up positively, regardless of what the score is, then I think we are going to be OK down the road. If those things do come apart, I don't think we are going to win. Then we have to come back and restructure our whole thinking. The process is as important as anything on this trip. It's easier to teach off a win, so that is the primary objective. We believe we have a chance to do that if we take care of our business.
(ON GETTING IN THE RANKINGS): If we come out of Miami with a win, there is no question we will move up. I think we have a chance to be a good team anyway. We have some holes, but for the most part, we could have a pretty good team. A win would just help us build that. In the long scheme of things, a win would get us headed in the right direction. With a loss, we would have to come back and regroup. I would prefer not to do that.
(ON NOT BEING RANKED): It is very hard to get ranked without an established quarterback. Florida was the only team that got ranked that does not have one. We also lost our best pass rusher (Derrick Rodgers). The voting didn't surprise me a bit. Ryan Kealy and Steve Campbell are becoming veterans. I think we are going to see faster improvement by these guys. We will be much more consistent with our quarterbacks.
(AN ASSESSMENT KEALY IN THE NEW MEXICO STATE GAME): He did pretty good. There were no interceptions. He did get stepped on and fumbled the ball once. He did a nice job of managing the team. What was good about the last game is that we were placed in almost every situation that comes up in a football game. We practiced everything we could practice, and I think we are better because of it.
(ON QUARTERBACKS): Ryan will start. I will not change quarterbacks just for random causes. We will do it by feel.
(ON THE COMPARISON OF MIAMI TO 1996 NEBRASKA GAME): There is a parallel there with Miami being a nationally ranked team. A lot of people will be curious as to the result of the game. I think it could have a similar affect on us. If we win, it will do a great deal for our confidence. This is an awfully big step for a young football team. We are going to have to grow up Saturday. I don't think it's too big of step, but it's big.