Coming off a 66-14 loss at Texas Tech over the weekend, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder discussed the quality of coaching by Red Raiders defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill and his assistants, which he indicated was apparent in the defensive players' ability to be assignment sound and ability to remain in proper position. Snyder also addressed Texas Tech's final touchdown pass with four minutes left in the fourth quarter during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference.
I was wondering if you could speak to how these offenses are as opposed to when you left and all of the fast-paced nature. You just saw Texas Tech and Texas A&M has been running at a very fast pace. What kind of pressures and how different is that coaching against these kinds of offenses?
SNYDER: "Well, Mike was at Texas Tech when I was here previously and really ran the same offense that they run presently, so we've had a good deal of experience. Not very much of it has been very good. But we've had experience with that, at least I have over the years. Each offense has its variance and from what I've seen Texas A&M and a number of other conference teams that we will have to prepare for run similar offenses. We have facets of that offense in our offense but our personnel just doesn't allow us to do as much as other teams would.
"Does it create issues? Yes, the defenses really haven't caught up yet. It goes in cycles and the offense sets the precedence and sooner or later defenses catch up and then the cycle continues to move. Looking at Texas Tech, for instance, the system is in place, it's a good system and a young guy comes in that makes his first start and plays lights out. A lot of that is system, although he is a very, very talented, young quarterback and they've asked him to do extremely well and then some. It's a combination. You have to have the personnel do it and yet when they have people spread out all over the field, then it makes tackling an issue.
"We had been a vastly improved tackling football team, which was one of the major interests that we had going into last spring and this season, then we got exposed on Saturday evening because now all of that tackling has to take place in space, as they say, and we just didn't quite have the athletic ability to make those kinds of tackles as well as we need to. So we were exposed in a deficiency in where we are right now. Long answer, short question."
Bill, I'm sorry this is another general-type question, but there have been only three Big 12 teams that have started 0-2 in conference and have ended up with a winning record. You had one of those when your 2003 team started 0-2 and then came back at 6-2. Was there anything particular about that? It seems to start 0-2 in conference play is pretty difficult to overcome. Just in general, the idea of avoiding an 0-2 start. Was there anything in particular with that 2003 team that got things turned around after starting 0-2?
SNYDER: "Well, it is somewhat relative to our football team today. There is a big difference between the 2003 team and this team, it's quite obviously. But you know you keep rowing the boat and keep sawing wood, keep on keeping on, so to speak, and that's what that team in 2003 did. In fact, they not only lost their first two conference games, but they lost the preceding game to Marshall. So we had three consecutive losses. We believed what we were doing was the right thing to do. We just needed to continue to get better and that was the point of motivation for our football team.
"We had excellent leadership from within as well and that allowed us to keep rowing the boat and to improve and finish the season quite well with six or seven consecutive wins, whatever it was. I think that's what good teams do. You just keep rowing the boat and maintain a level of confidence and motivation that if you do the things during the course of the week that allow you to be better, then you will be better on Saturday. And if you're better on Saturday, then you'll have an opportunity to win. That's where our football team is presently, just attempting to get ourselves better each week and we didn't do that this past week. Up until this point in time we had, but certainly not this week."
Bill, did you have any quarrel with Texas Tech throwing a touchdown pass with four minutes left and a 45-point lead?
SNYDER:"No, I didn't. I really didn't. I was more concerned about how we were playing or how we weren't playing more than anything else. And I didn't. I think more than anything else, that's their nature of the game. That's their system. I didn't take it personal."
Do you think that's changed in the last couple of years? It used to be people kind of shut things down.
SNYDER: "Well, for some, maybe, for others, not. The role of the team on defense is to stop things, which we didn't stop anything. Also, you've got a backup quarterback that came into the quarterback at some point in time there. Their system is to throw the football. We had a ball game that we were on the other side of the score two or three weeks ago against Tennessee Tech and we had our No. 2 quarterback come in, who needed to throw it and I didn't do it and we didn't throw it with him in there. I wanted him to have the experience, but that's just not the nature of what we do. But that's not making a comparison. That's just what we chose to do and I don't think there was anything whatsoever personal about it, I just feel like they just run their offense and they don't want to change their offense based on what the score happens to be and I can appreciate that."
Bill, I was wondering what you've seen from Texas A&M so far.
SNYDER: "Well, obviously a football team that has some talented young people. I like Jerrod Johnson, I think he's a very, very talented young quarterback and to be the size he is as well creates some problems in his capacity to run the football as well as to throw it and not to throw any interceptions in however many passing attempts that he has had, over 200, which is quite, quite significant for a young guy with eligibility remaining. I think their schemes are good. They can spread you out and they can tighten it down if they want to and they have good running backs to do that with.
"Defensively, they play well. They do quite a few things defensively. I think they do things based on what you do and they have the capacity to make their defense look a little different than what you might consider to be normal for them. They have some awfully fine guys in Von Miller and all of the sacks that he has. I think he has nine so far this year. Our team doesn't have nine sacks. There's certainly some talent there. I think they've playing awfully well."
What was your impression of Texas Tech's defense. Were they better than you thought or just as good?
SNYDER: "Well, I was quite confident they were a quite good defensive football team. Ruffin McNeill and Carlos Mainord do a really an excellent job with them. I didn't have any projections on how well we may or may not have done against them, but I think they played extremely well. They lined up and played and didn't do anything that was not anticipated and therein lies the value of the quality of coaching that they have brought to that side of the ball. The youngsters understand where they're supposed to be and don't get themselves out of position and they play hard and run well and they did all of that. We were rather inept a good portion of the time with exception of an early drive that we couldn't finish off. I think they're a good defensive football team, better than a lot of people would've anticipated."