Nov. 17, 2009
Huntington, W.Va. -
11/17 Mark Snyder Press Conference
Opening Statement: We are excited to have another West Division team come into our stadium. SMU is playing very well right now. They are well coached. They have won a lot of close games against some quality opponents. It is senior day for us and our seniors are looking forward to this. They spoke at length on Sunday about doing something around here that hasn't been done in a while (go to a bowl). I think our guys will be ready to roll come Saturday.
On Senior Day, along with SMU leading the Western Conference, and the injuries: It creates opportunities for other guys to step up and play. We are excited to go play this game.
On the status of Cody Slate: Cody does have an ACL tear, so he is out for the rest of the season. He is such a great kid and a great leader. He told his mom yesterday, "I am the captain of this team; I am sticking around this team until the end." His fortitude has been unbelievable. I bet you will see him out there coaching up his teammates today.
On Slate helping the other tight ends: He is very important in bringing those guys along. Lee Smith has been waiting his turn though. He and Cody are the best of friends. But a few times when Cody was out at practice we would put a young guy named Billy Mitchell that we threw in there every now and then at Cody's spot and Lee looks at me and says, "Don't even think about it!" He has been waiting for his turn. I think he did a good job stepping in. He is big target with nice soft hands and he can run people over.
On East vs. West opponents: We looked up some stats, with records, scored, yards produced, so it's interesting. June Jones has done a good job down there. They have won some close games. They create turnovers in special teams and that has been the difference in a couple of games.
On SMU special teams: They are very good. Emmanuel Sanders is very dangerous on punt returns. Their tailback on kickoff returns is also very good. They are well coached there, and they have a guy who has blocked seven kicks. That has been the difference in three football games. A 13-point swing against East Carolina, a 13-point swing against Rice, and just last week you had UTEP lining up for a kick as oppose to going to the end zone. Those are three examples that come to my head where a simple field goal block has turned the game around. That has been the difference in the football game.
On Darius Marshall's health: We will treat him today. He will not practice today. We will see how he is tomorrow.
On the progression of Martin Ward since the season opener: I am excited to see him if that opportunity does arise. He has fresh legs, he's a little bigger and he is not as dinged-up. He is going to have to play Saturday and we will see what he can do.
Also on Terrell Edwards-Maye: Terrell was down with me last week with the two's going against our defense. He was being big No. 11 for Southern Miss. He got a shot in the game, went in, and produced.
On the health of the offensive line: That's the key. Chad Schofield was able to play the entire game so he got over that mental block. We were able to rest Landis Provancha and Ryan Tillman so they have had another week off, so we should be at full strength out here today. But we will be smart and how much we work them against our No. 1 defensive players. But we should be at full strength on the offensive line. It helps to have those guys back at their original positions.
Question: Is there a sense of urgency? I think so. It is the next game so it is the most important game, but we know we are down to a two-game season. So there is definitely a sense of urgency to go out there and play well. The exciting thing is, we have the Western Division leaders coming to our stadium. How much more exciting can that be? How about this weather? God has blessed us with another beautiful day and it looks like it will stay like this throughout the week. This is an exciting offense to come and see. They are going to chuck the ball down the field. June Jones has done a good job. It should be an exciting Saturday.
On playing against a June Jones offense: He doesn't have all of his pieces in place yet, but you will see a variation of the run and shoot offense. But it's not all there yet like he had it at Hawaill. It will take him some time, but he is well on his way.
On the possibility of SMU playing in the Hawaii bowl: That would be a good draw seeing how Hawaii isn't bowl eligible. But it goes back to them finding a way to win with those blocked kicks. One kid that is a discuss thrower, comes onto your team and gets his paw up, he has turned around a season.
On the health of T.J. Drakeford: We will see. We need to get him back into the fold.
On a June Jones game plan: We will see what the game plan is. There is going to be some game day adjustments made come Saturday, but not as much as you think. They use a tight end. He does go four wide receives. When they do go empty it is either their runner back out there, or their quarterback, when they go into the racehorse. I don't think he has his full offense in yet. It is only year two, but he is on his way. They throw the ball down the field, and they have a good tailback that keeps you honest. And again, they have made some things happen on the special team's that has helped out the team.
On the SMU defense: They create a lot of turnovers; 16 interceptions. They do a lot of moving. They are never static. They are not the biggest in the world, not like anything we have faced in the last three weeks. They do a lot of moving and they know where their strength and weaknesses are. They have bought in to the coaches system. They have about 25 total turnovers, and 16 interceptions have to be up there in the country somewhere.
On Brian Anderson: He has shown some maturity and is growing up. I thought he played extremely well. I don't know what his numbers were off hand but he had five drops and some throw-away's, so his numbers were better than what you saw on that stat sheet. I know he is looking forward to this week. He showed his toughness. I am sure Brian will be happy we are healthy up front too.
More on Emmanuel Sanders: Sanders is a good player. You throw the ball to your best players, and the coaches have done a good job of moving him around in the formation. He presents mismatches. He's a good player.
On Antavious Wilson: He is going to be a good player. He already is a good player. He will do nothing but get better. I like the whole group of wide-outs. How about Aaron Dobson? We need to get him more involved. He is playing extremely well for us too. Antavious is more of a home run hitter. But Dobson can get behind you too. He is so big and powerful and he can leap. He is that kind of guy.
On Chuck Walker: He needs to become more consistent. I have faith that he will be, but we need him to be more consistent.
On coming to support the seniors: They have given everything they need to give. They have done a great job. They have endured a lot through this rebuilding cycle. They have committed themselves to getting us somewhere we haven't been in a while and that was their goal, to get us back on track. It was well documented at our team meeting on Sunday, and I think our younger guys will rise to the occasion. This is a really good group of seniors. There are some guys in there that are going to move on and continue to play football. I think they have shown the way for the younger kids on into the next few seasons. The good thing is, we sit there and plan on doing some recruiting, but we don't have many spots available to give out. I just think they have done a tremendous job.
On the fans becoming anxious: We have been really good around here in past years and I think people are. They want to win yesterday. I don't blame them, I am just like them. But you have to build. You have to do things the way they have to be done to sustain success for years to come. Unfortunately, the sustaining has been on the bottom of the ledger as opposed to the top of the ledger. But we are right there. Everybody is excited and fired up. After the game I said that this is a good football team. This is a team that has to be reckoned with in this league. Everybody in this league knows that we are a team that comes to play every week and we have lost some close football games. We are excited for the next two games.
What will a win do against SMU for the fan base? You can answer that better than I can. I am in that staff room all day or on the practice field. But for our team, and our staff, it would do wonders for them. I would like to not be home for Christmas again, as weird as that sounds. I just don't like being home for Christmas. It was ok the first year because I hadn't been home for Christmas in a long time. But it wears on you. My kids want a Christmas tree in a hotel room somewhere because that was how they were brought up. I want to be at a bowl game.
On the extra month of practice a bowl games gives you: We would laugh about that extra month. When I was in 1-AA we would get an extra month, but we were actually playing competition. That extra month of practice helps tremendously. When you start that next year...that is where you see the improvement because you are already ahead of the curve. You don't start with the first three or four games feeling your way through. You know exactly where you are at. When I look at a Southern Miss, or an East Carolina, they have had an extra month in the past couple of years that we haven't had. All things being relative, we have played a lot of close games and have had an opportunity to win them. Would that extra month have made the outcome different, I don't know. Would that have helped our young guys be a little better than they are now? We could go on and on. What kind of impact would another month of coaching do for these guys? Fortunately for us next year, we have a lot of young guys coming back for us. But they will have to step in and play, especially those guys on the offensive line. What a great time for us to get people a lot more reps. You get into spring ball and then you start your season knowing exactly where you are. That is a heck of an advantage. I remember being at a previous school with a January bowl. There is a lot of extra time to practice for next year to find out who your true players will be. Not only is there an advantage of making a bowl game, but the later the better because you get the extra practice time.