The Wildcats already seem to have encountered that scenario this season, with a few plays being key in the Wildcats 21-19 win at Marshall. Some may say the final score was the result of the Thundering Herd shooting themselves in the feet, and while Coach Bill Snyder said the Wildcats were "extremely fortunate" to come away with the victory, he still recognized the value of Justin McKinney's big-play ability.
"Here's a newcomer (McKinney), who has only been with us since August," Snyder said, "and he's got enough gumption to him that he's willing to make that play when so much is on the line. That's what you love to have - young guys that have enough confidence in their abilities that they will pull the trigger when it's the right time."
Snyder said that this ability is not something present in all players. "We might have some others who would probably sit back and let the ball be caught, and make sure that they make the tackle," Snyder said. "(McKinney) broke on the ball and made a nice play, but he made several nice plays in that ballgame."
Snyder said it's not too early in the season to identify players with big-play capability, and mentioned several by name. "I think we do have some people that are willing to take on (a playmaker) role and have the capabilities to do so," Snyder said.
"How many? You don't know for sure. That materializes over a period of time, but you've seen some things taking place."
Starting quarterback Allen Webb was the first to be identified by Snyder. "I think Allen's athletic capability tells you that he's capable of that," Snyder said. "He hasn't really cut it loose at this particular point in time."
After two games, Webb has tossed for four touchdowns and completed 58-percent of his passes. Despite some inconsistency and criticism, Webb seems to have a lock on the starting quarterback job. at least until Dylan Meier regains a clean bill of health.
Snyder was quick to mention a pair of receivers after his quarterback. "You can see that Jordy (Nelson) probably has some of those capabilities. You can see what Jermaine (Moreira) does," Snyder said.
"You know, right out of the locker room in the second half and that was a fine run. We did a nice job of protecting and blocking for him, but it doesn't happen if it wasn't for his athletic ability." Nelson and Moreira have combine for 18 of the Wildcats' 29 total receptions and 193 of 287 total receiving yards.
Snyder also discussed runningback Thomas Clayton, who is averaging over 164 yards rushing per game. "I though he played better (against Marshall) than he did (against Florida International)," Snyder said. "He didn't have as much yardage, but he caught the ball well and I thought he ran even more aggressively than he did the week before."
Defensively, Snyder mentioned McKinney and safety Marcus Watts as players who have shown they can make big plays. Snyder said the statistics like interceptions can look impressive on a stat sheet, but both do other things, as well.
"Justin has a couple numbers (on the stat sheet) because of two interceptions," Snyder said, "but he and Marcus both had some of those hidden, major plays. Things that you don't necessarily see, and certainly aren't statistical things, but they still have a great impact on the outcome of the ballgame."