Bruce Snyder Press Conference Quotes
Oct. 30, 2000
General Quotes:There's a great deal to talk about. I feel compelled that there's a lot to talk about in terms of the game. (Adam) Archuleta was just announced as maybe one of the top national defensive players, and that is really accurate. If you just watched him play the whole game, it's just an amazing thing to watch. He played the last play of the game as hard as he played the first. Nobody is playing their position better in the Pac-10 as he is playing at linebacker. I think if you had 11 Archuletas, and you could play them at any spot on the field, you would win. He just plays so well and he does so much for our football team. He's having a great year.
On Last Week's Loss:Here is a quick look back at the game. I'd like to take some time to explain the last couple of minutes of the game. To me, the first real opportunity we had to win the game was the on-side kick recovery with the penalty. We had the ball at that point in positive field position and we needed to wind that clock down. That did not happen. That was our real first opportunity to get something done.
One of the toughest decisions of the game came in that series with the fourth-down call on the 33. Mike Barth on Thursday night was goofing around, like a sophomore in college might do, and took a swing with his foot at a Nerf ball. When he did that, he wrenched his back. Friday, he couldn't do anything. We were propping him up. He could not do any of the kicks in pre-game warmup. We actually went on a crash course with Greg Pieratt to see if he could do any of the kicking. By the opening kick, Mike said he could get something done, so he kicked off. As the game wore on, his back became worse and worse. I don't know whether that was noticeable, but he could barely put the ball on the tee for kickoffs. If you ever see someone with a bad back, they bend down with their knees and not with their backs, and that's what he was doing. At that point at the 33-yard line, it was not an option to kick the field goal. Three points would have been huge there. I think had he been healthy, I think that's what my choice would have been because the other two choices would not have been good. They would have been to punt from that short of distance, or to go for it on 4th and 14. So the field goal option was taken away. There was a timeout taken so the clock wasn't going to start until the ball was snapped. Taking a delay of game wouldn't have worked because you have the option to refuse the yardage which we would have banked on them not being very smart, but that wouldn't have been very likely.
So we decided to throw to it to Todd Heap because a couple good things could happen. One, to see if he could catch it. Two, he could get pass interference. If we threw it deep enough maybe they might intercept it inside the ten and we could tackle them and it would be better field position. None of those things happened. They scored, I think 51 seconds after that. They just went right down the field.
We lost Machtier Clay in a freak accident in practice Wednesday, and we lost Kenny Williams in the game. Christian Rance started to prove that he wasn't capable of playing, so we played Josiah Igono. Those are all the factors surrounding this. We get the ball on the one-foot line. They had used two timeouts. We have a chart that gives us ballpark figures about how much time you could run out if the other team has no timeouts, or one timeout, or two timeouts, or three, without having to punt. That was talked about immediately that we could not run the clock out without getting a first down. My decision, and I would do the same today, was let's run conservative plays, but let's get the first down and don't let them touch the ball again and have my defense run back onto the field. We ran three times, and Tom Pace couldn't be in there because he was in the training room. That's why Michael was in there, and what's really sad about it is we blocked them so well. It was an 11-yard gain, and a hand, or an arm tackle from going for a touchdown. We've gone through all their defense until he got spun around. The truth of the matter, in terms of conventional wisdom, is you do your best percentage wise to get the first down so they don't touch the ball again, so that was the reason for doing that.
Then on the overtime, they scored, then we scored. My thinking on that was I wasn't sure whether we were ever going to get them stopped. We did stop them in the first overtime because they ran three times. After that, they were not going to do that again. My thinking was if we had a chance to win it, I was going to give it the best chance we had. We practiced that play every week for the last eight years, and I think we've used it twice. The last time we used it was the U of A game last year in this stadium. The unfortunate thing about that was they were fooled, in fact they had the pass interfered to get Todd stopped. Jeff Krohn was on the corner, and he had ten yards open ahead of him. I don't feel bad about the call. I feel the bad that a PI (Pass interference) wasn't called, and that Todd didn't catch it with one hand, his left hand. Had, I gone for the kick, I think the next time we would have had to of gone for two because they would have probably scored the way they were going. One way or another, we would have had to gone for two, so I gave my team the best chance of winning.
Mike Barth may have made the extra point, but the trainer said he was getting worse, and it was not a given to make the extra point. That was what I was told. So there were a lot of factors involved in the last two or three minutes of that ballgame. If we judged the decision based on the result, it was not good. We did not complete the ball to Todd on fourth down. We fumbled on the third down run, and we did not get the two pointer. So, I don't have a problem with any of those three calls, and I'd do them again today.
On the injury situation:We did get hurt. This was an expensive game for us with Kenny Williams being out for the season, and he'd be out if we would go to a bowl game. He was playing very good cornerback for us. We lost Dalen Ware probably for the remainder of the season. We might get Justin Taplin back for the U of A game. Mike Barth is doubtful for this week. So it was a real expensive game in more ways than one.
On preparation for the Oregon game:I'm really proud of my team in terms of the way we prepared. It was a great week of preparation. They studied hard, were ready to play, and went after a top-10 football team. They dominated in a lot of ways. The effort and hitting was great. I think there were a lot of positives to take out of the game, but a play here and there would have made a big difference.
On the kicking game:I don't want to take Travis(Cloyd) out of redshirting, but I think Brian Biang would be the long kicker, and Jeff Pieratt would be the extra point kicker, field goal kicker. Neither one has ever done it in a college game before. That's how I'd do it. I got to see Pieratt this week under pressure. I've never seen him under pressure. What we do in practice is if we have 10 kicks under pressure, the starter gets nine. We've been giving Travis Cloyd the other one, because we know he could be the guy of the future. Pieratt hasn't even worked under pressure in practice.
On next weeks players:I think Shaun (McDonald) will be our punt returner, backed up by Davaren Hightower. I have my fingers crossed that Machtier can get back by Saturday. If he could get back by then, I would start Nijrell ( Eason), and Machtier at the corners and they would have to play every down. If we get to a nickel package, then Josiah or Christian Rance could be a third corner to play. We might take a look at Craig Koontz at the corner. At an emergency we might have to practice Emmanuel Franklin or R.J. Oliver. I hate to take them out of their redshirts though. I am just really hopeful that we'll have Machtier back.
On the team's attitude:I'm really encouraged. Obviously, it was really emotional and intense. Five or six guys were crying, and that's ok because of the work put into the game. There wasn't, which is a positive, helmet throwing, or screaming or yelling. Yesterday's meeting went fine. My sense tells me they will bounce back, and they can get bowl qualified this weekend. I have no reason not to believe them. We had enough problems that if we would have come apart, we would have done it long ago, and we haven't. We're going to be fine.
On USC:I was prepared to see a team, while watching films, maybe a team not trying very hard. We know they have talent, but they are playing hard. I'm impressed with that. They aren't doing things they should do all the time, but things happen. What scares me is there are talented, and they play very hard. A team like that, we have to hope they screw it up. That's a terrible thing to have to hope for. I think the issue will be us. We have to get ourselves ready like we did for Oregon and go out and play just as hard.I think our guys having been looking forward to this game. A lot of our guys are from Southern California, and USC has such great tradition. It is senior day too. All those things will add up. Probably all the people involved will never forget this game.