July 21, 2005
PETER IRWIN: As everybody finds their seat, we would like to welcome the Wildcats from Kansas State and Coach Bill Snyder and Coach Snyder would like to introduce his players for us, and then we will go for questions for the store.
COACH SNYDER: My far left, Brandon Archer, young man from Minnesota, linebacker for us, returning starter, one of our captains. All three of these youngsters are captains in our football program. All three of these youngsters are excellent young people, certainly fine football players, but impeccable young guys in terms of character and student capabilities and have proven themselves as evidenced by being selected captains as good leaders in our program. Victor Mann from the state of Texas, fullback, returning starter for us. Jeromey Clary, returning right tackle for us, and also a Texas youngster. I would just reiterate, really neat, neat young guys. That being said, let's take your questions.
PETER IRWIN: Coach, we will start taking questions. Remember we can ask questions of the players.
Q. Bill, I want to talk to you, I guess, about the defense. Can you talk about that, obviously, top 10 for so many years and last year fell off. Starting with the off season program to where you are now, is it getting near where you expect it to be each year?
COACH SNYDER: We still have a ways to go defensively, and that's true with other segments of the program as well, but I think we have made improvement. I thought we got better during the off-season program. I thought we got better with spring practice. I hope we are getting better during the course of the summer. Brandon can probably speak to that better than I could at this point in time. There are a variety of different things we need, I think, collectively, for our football team, and that certainly is true with our defense, but also with the offense and the special teams, with all youngsters in our program. The intrinsic things, first and foremost, and you have heard me speak to this before. I thought we needed to become a more spirited football team. I thought we needed to become a more disciplined football team. That was true, as I said, in all segments of the game. I thought that we enhanced those areas during the course of the segments that I just addressed. I thought defensively we needed to be a better tackling football team. We needed to be a better coverage football team. We needed to be a better pass rush football team defensively. I think we -- and we needed to be a little faster and play a little faster and play more aggressively than what we did. I think in the spring those things moved in the right direction. I thought we enhanced ourselves from a standpoint with the movements and players and we addressed that before, and I thought that we were a more physical football team during the course of the spring defensively, and I thought, as I said, we ran better. I thought we improved our lot as a coverage unit. We probably have seven, eight young people in our secondary who I think enhance our capabilities, all of which are capable of being on the field, which allows us to get into the five and six defensive secondary players on the field at the same time. Nickel and dime packages, as they say. Just enhances our capabilities there.
Q. Coach Snyder, when you speak to like Rod Cole, what is the assessment that he gives you or the idea with the off-season workouts and how the players are progressing right now?
COACH SNYDER: Well, the major concern is the work habits and some of the intrinsic things that we talked about, what's our attitude toward the workouts, how hard and what kind of effort do they bring to each of their workouts, and what kind of improvement they are making in terms of their condition and quickness and change of direction, and speed and strength in the weight room. We are into kind of power development, which is a combination of speed and strength, and that's important, and he reports on a very regular basis to each and every one of those things. Coach Cole has been very positive in regards to the progress that youngsters in our program are making.
Q. Are spirit and discipline things that can be identified in recruiting, taught when players arrive, or does that come from within, something the players have to figure out for themselves?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I think the latter probably describes that a little bit better. Certainly there are some things that you should be able to determine in the recruiting process, but I don't know that, again, the intrinsic things sometimes are a little harder to decipher at that particular point in time. Can you teach some of those things? I think, to a certain degree, yes, you can, but I think the most noteworthy is what you said at the last, it's something that a youngster develops within, or I say a youngster, something that all of us do or do not develop.
Q. For the players, what do you tell your friends when they ask you, you know, how to explain what happened last year?
COACH SNYDER: Who wants to tackle that? They don't have any friends.
JEROMEY CLARY: All my friends are football players, mostly, but the things I do say is that I think that we kind of lacked good vocal leaders, and I think this year our captains are a lot different. These two are a lot more vocal than I am. I kind of more stay in the back and don't really say too much. These guys are very vocal. I think that's really good for us. Another thing is that I don't think we really practiced very well last year. I think that our practices were kind of lackadaisical and we didn't really show good work ethic, and I think that's changed. I think our team is a lot different this year. We work a lot harder. The off-season program went really well. We had a lot of hard workouts and built a lot of mental toughness and physical toughness and it's not going to be like we were last year.
BRANDON ARCHER: I agree with Jeromey. Leadership is probably the one thing that I tell my friends would be the thing of last year.
Q. Coach, you had a situation where a running back Darren Sproles, his era is over, that chapter is closed and it was a great run. Where are you at that position at this point in time?
COACH SNYDER: Well, you can't replace Darren Sproles. I think we all understand that. We were an 11-win team before Darren Sproles for many years, and I would like to think that the youngsters we have -- it will be very competitive, I guess I should address it that way. I think youngsters Thomas Clayton, Carlos Alsup, Parrish Fisher, Donnie Anders, I think, will all be in the mix. We came out of spring practice with Thomas Clayton being our number one running back on the depth chart, and that's the way it will start out, but it will be very competitive, and it may -- any one of those four probably could fit into the spot. I would -- you know, you can remember Dave, trying to make a comparison, as I said, you can't replace Darren Sproles, but I think with Thomas and Carlos, those are young guys somewhat similar in style to Josh Scobey that you can remember played for us as a starter, and I think Parrish Fisher, who is a youngster from here in Texas, is an up-and-comer, and I think he really will be into the mix. As I said, nobody can replace Darren and do exactly the same things that he can do, but Parrish has a few of the traits that Darren had that lend themselves to the style of offense that we have. I think it will be -- it will just be a very competitive spot, and hopefully that makes all of them better. I would like to think that would be the case.
Q. Bill, I wondered if you can talk about your quarterbacks and if (inaudible) Dylan Meier can come back from the spring injury he had.
COACH SNYDER: He is on schedule, according to our trainers, ahead of schedule. Interesting thing about Dylan, he went virtually the entire year last year, was hurt early in the season, at that point in time on didn't practice, with the exception of the running game and handing the ball off. He didn't throw until Saturdays. Still he did a fairly decent job, fairly accurate thrower. So I guess the intelligence that he has and the understanding of the system will allow him to do that. I think now with him back being able to throw the ball on a regular basis and practice daily will be a great asset for him and for us. I think that position will also be very competitive. I thought Allen Webb made an immense amount of improvement during the course of our spring practices. I think the two of them, I think, are -- even though most people would look at them and say they are diametrically opposed in terms of what their skills are, but I think they are somewhat similar. Most people would think of Allen Webb as more athletic, but Dylan is an athletic young guy as well. So it will be interesting, quite obviously, but I think above and beyond all of it, what I appreciate is the opportunity for it to be very, very competitive and, once again, when you have those kind of opportunities for young guys to compete against each other at a particular spot, you would like to think that if they are competitive young guys, it will help improve each one of them. I think that probably is the case here, both of them would like to be our number one quarterback. It remains to be seen exactly which one that will be.
Q. Bill, as a follow-up, a lot of Big 12 teams are fairly unsettled at quarterback going into this year. How difficult is it to have early success and sustain it when that position is somewhat up in the air?
COACH SNYDER: Well, you know, I guess it could be. I don't necessarily find it that way. The obvious question would be: Can you gain the continuity that you want with your offense if you are unsettled at that particular position? The way we practice is our number two guy is going to get almost an equal amount of reps as our number one guy. So the preparation and the continuity aren't as far removed as one might think, at least in our system. I think the important thing here is that players have an appreciation for each one, and that they allow themselves to understand the capabilities of each one, and understanding that both of them, in all likelihood, could be on the field. That was the case last year, and that was precipitated by an injury. If, indeed, that were to occur again, you have to have a second guy that's ready to play. So I think that favors a team that has two quarterbacks that might be very competitive for the spot, but as far as it relates to the kind of continuity that you can establish in the early stages of the season, I don't think that has a great impact on us. If we are playing the wrong one, it could. I don't know that you can go wrong with the two that we have right now.
Q. Coach Snyder, again, I don't know if "excited" is the right word, but how much are you looking forward to getting the summer team workouts, fall practices underway for this team after a long off-season coming off last season?
COACH SNYDER: Well, I am one to attempt to promote taking everything a step at a time, you know, and so, when the time comes, our youngsters will report on August 4th, and when that's here, I will be excited about that day. Right now we have some things to accomplish today, and there will be some things to accomplish tomorrow. Summers go awfully fast, at least they do for me, and they do for players as well. We need every day of the summer that we can get to try to enhance our capabilities and do some of the things we talked about a little bit ago. So everything in its place and everything in its time.
PETER IRWIN: Gentlemen, thank you very much. If you will step to the back and take one of the round tables, we will let you do the one-on-ones. Good luck to you. Thanks.
End of FastScripts...