Coach Mark Snyder's Weekly Press Conference Transcript
Herd Travels to UTEP Saturday in Regular Season Finale
Nov. 24, 2009
Huntington, W.Va. -
Mark Snyder Press Conference
Opening Statement: It was good to be home and get a victory against a very good SMU team. The thing that was most pleasing to me was that our young guys stepped up, contributed and showed what our future holds. Its amazing, we went out to practice yesterday and I said to Lee Smith," Wow, No. 5 got healthy quick." I think he will be back ready to go (against UTEP).
It was an exciting win. It was a little closer than it should have been. We were a little lethargic in the beginning of the game, especially on defense. But, our offense preformed really well. We have six keys to victory, and we hit all six of them. That may have been the first time we have hit all six in a game this year, because it is hard to do. The offense played really well, and the defense played well enough to win.
I'm excited about going to UTEP. This is a good team. Mike Price is a great coach. They stubbed their toe a couple times, but they have played a lot of good football. They beat Houston. We will have our hands full. But, I will tell you with the resurgence of these news guys, there is a little bit of re-found enthusiasm with our club. It is reinvigorating for me, because the length of the season can wear on you. It is week 14, but week 17 for the coaches and players when you think about camp. Last night's practice was enthusiastic because you have the influx of new blood just rejuvenating everybody. So I think our guys are ready to go. I challenged them to go play the best game we have played to date, and let's go have some fun. Let's try to get win number seven.
On being anxious with the younger players playing a big role: No not really, there is a little bit of that, but I was excited to see them play because they are talented. The key is pass protection, and can they hold onto the ball. Those are the only two questions I had. I thought they played really well. To ask Aaron Dobson, a true freshman, to go in and do the things we asked him to do, I thought he rose to the challenge and had a good day, along with a lot of other players. There were a lot of really good individual performances. Let's not forget about Omar Brown. Omar had a tremendous game. He was our Defensive Player of the Week, another young guy. He should have had two interceptions. He played extremely well. Now he thinks he is a player and has more confidence because he was our Player of the Week. This is just good stuff. We have some good mojo going on right now. I can't wait for Saturday. Let's get through Thanksgiving and go play.
On Aaron Dobson continuing to play the role of Cody Slate: Well, we are going to have to do some of those things, but the element of surprise is now gone. It was hard for SMU. We had two backs that they didn't know much about and had no film on. You have a guy that steps into Cody's role and they had no idea that was coming. So that served as an advantage for us. We won't have that advantage this week, obviously.
On Terrell Edwards-Maye and Martin Ward right now compared to the beginning of the season: It is all about confidence. We would have liked to put them in as the year has gone along. You have to go with the guy who has the experience. And at times you have to force-feed yourself. The opportunity arose where we had to force-feed these guys, and they performed.
Edwards-Maye and Ward against SMU as opposed to SIU: It is a little bit of a whole lot of things. You can't read too much into their performance against SIU. It was the first game of the year. The offensive line had not jelled yet. That's where bowl practice comes in and helps. I have said over and over again, this team has gotten better throughout the entire year, in a lot of aspects. Lot's of guys are playing with a lot of confidence, and that is what happens. So I think there a lot of factors. You can't just say, `They didn't play well." It was the first game of the season. They had jitters. The line wasn't all there yet, we were playing a pretty decent defense, so there are a lot of things that go into that. But seeing them in practice, I was excited to go see them play. I knew they had fresh-legs and that helps at this time of the year.
On the Offensive Line play: It is tremendous. That group is playing very well right now from a confidence stand point. We have a lot of parts back and you can just feel it all week in practice. They were having fun out there. It was fun to watch. It was fun to watch again on Sunday in the film room too.
On UTEP's offense: They are the best 3-8 team in the country, and the film doesn't lie. Donald Buckram leads our league in rushing. He is third in receptions. Moturi has been there forever. He can catch the football. Vittatoe has been around for a very long time. They have an explosive offense that gets 600 yards and 50 points, the film doesn't lie. If we think we are going to walk in there, and they are going to roll over, we are wrong. Thus far, sitting here Tuesday, I feel good about how we have responded.
On UTEP's defense: They are athletic. They come from everywhere. It is all or nothing with these guys. They may hit you in the back field, or they may give up the big play. That is their style. They come from everywhere. It's a 3-4 defense and they will give you a lot of different looks.
On UTEP's game's against Houston and Tulsa: They put all pieces together. They have put the pieces together in a lot of other games too, but they have hurt themselves with turnovers, or not catching the ball, or not throwing the ball into the end zone on fourth down, things of that nature.
On Buckram, UTEP's RB: He's just a good back. The line is pretty good too.
On what Marshall has to do defensively: Just continue to do what we have been doing. Stop the run and don't give up the big play. Penalties got us more than anything against SMU. That exaggerated some of the third-downs by keeping the chains moving. But I was pleased with our defensive performance. That was a good offense we played.
On the UTEP atmosphere: Last time we were there it was a sellout. It was a night game. I remember driving in vividly. They let us come out first and I remember Mike coming down the steps with the pick and the place going crazy. So it was quite interesting. It was many moons ago though.
On the pass rush vs. SMU: You have to give the SMU quarterback a lot of credit. He frustrated us a lot. He frustrated me. I was frustrated for our kids. I am sure that's why Coach Jones went with him. He eluded our rush a bunch of times. Some guys have that sixth sense to bob, weave, spin, and by time. That kid had it.
On MU special teams being re-evaluated: That was a big part of practice last night. There a lot of things that goes into it. I can't fault them for giving great effort, but don't hurt the football team. If in doubt, don't. That is the standard rule. There are times they want to do what's best for the team by pressing the issue, but then they end up hurting the team in the process. That is what we have to come to realize. It is not because a lack of effort. It's not a lack of want to. It's not a lack of being selfish, it's none of that. Its just really really wanting to, but if in doubt, don't. We will survive the down, because that is field position. All you can do is keep preaching it and keep practicing it. Hopefully it clicks. If it doesn't, you replace.
On Darius Marshall: I think he will be ready to go. We will know more after today's practice. We will rotate guys though. It depends on who has the hot hand.
On East vs. West physicality: There is probably a little bit of truth to that (East teams being more physical), I just worry about the games we have to go play. I haven't seen the cross over games, but I know this is a physical offense (UTEP's) we are going against this weekend. They can really run the football. They can throw it too. That's what makes them so dangerous. We want to establish the line of scrimmage.
On UTEP's weapons and any comparisons to former UTEP star Johnnie Lee Higgins: No. 6 is a good player. Moturi is a very good player. He has caught a lot of footballs and he has great speed. In the beginning of the year he and Adams had some drops which hurt them. But they have come a long way on that aspect. They can get behind you in a heartbeat. Higgins was pretty special. He was like Cody to us. Next year you replace him, but do you really replace him? Those players only come around every so often.