Moderator: A solid win for Marshall on Saturday to open the season. Talk about some of the things you liked from your club in the victory over Illinois State.
Mark Snyder: We played a clean football game. Our penalty ratio came way, way down compared from last year. We were able to run the ball and hit some plays and I thought our defense did a good job in stopping the run, which will be important going into the game this week. It was a good step for us.
Moderator: You mention going to Wisconsin this week and the importance in stopping the run. P.J. Hill certainly a big part of what they do offensively. Talk about him and what else impresses you about the Badgers.
Well, it all starts up front for them and it always has and probably always will. They are very good up front on the offensive line and P.J. has a little bit better feet than I remember. He showed me some ability to get in the field and make some people miss. We know he's a pounding back and he's got some young guys behind him that are pretty good too. They don't miss much of a beat when he comes out of the game. They have there change of pace back and very physical offensively.
Can you talk a little about your friendship with Bret Bielema and some of the memories you have from playing games in Camp Randall?
Well, Bret is a very good football coach. I think Barry Alvarez and the Wisconsin people made the right choice making him the successor because he's done a great job there. He's an old defensive coach that believes in solid special teams and running the football. It's very impressive with what he's done and he's done a great job since he's been there.
My memories of Wisconsin are not good. It's a hard place to play in Camp Randall. There's so much tradition and so much history that it's a hard place to play. A) Because of the brand of football. B) Because of the crowd. It's just the aura that surrounds Camp Randall. It's a very exciting place to play. I've said this a lot that the two hardest places to play that I have ever coached in are Penn State at night and Wisconsin at night.
What do you think separates conferences Big Ten, Big East and Conference USA?
I say the teams the play good defense, special teams, control the clock during games, don't turn the ball over and don't have a bunch of penalties, those are the teams that usually win. Early in the season, offense and special teams does turn the ball over. You have to keep things to a minimal until you get things going.
Two topics for you. First with the Conference USA victory of East Carolina's victory over Virginia Tech and you and some other teams playing some pretty good teams this week, does it reiterate that anybody can beat anybody?
Without question. I take my hat off to Skip Holtz and it was great win for him, his program and our conference. As you mentioned, some of us get to go out against BCS conference and that (win) definitely helps.
The other topic is the offense you are going to face this weekend. I know you are use to it being a Big Ten coach, what are some challenges of facing smash mouth offenses that hit from the first place to the last play?
They try to stay ahead of the count. As a defensive coach, they are always ahead of the count with second and short or third and short. They don't have a bunch of third and long because they can run so effectively and the play action game becomes a bit scary with the big play possibilities. They keep you off guard a little bit as a defensive coach. Bret is a defensive guy and they are very sound in everything they do. They don't give up explosive plays and they'll make you drive the field and beat them. In a way, they kind of make you beat yourself.
With spread offenses so prevalent in college football, it's almost like Wisconsin's offense is extinct now. Does that make it tough to prepare for them because there aren't many teams doing what they are doing?
You know, I think it is. Fortunately for us, we played a team last week that was a lot like Wisconsin. That was a good tune up for us but it is different. You look across the Big Ten now and the landscape is changed. Ohio State is doing a little bit of it (spread), Wisconsin and Iowa are the only teams left running old-fashion Big Ten football.
Is there anybody in Conference USA that does what Wisconsin does?
Central Florida is a little like that and they were our conference champs this year because they can run the football. Besides that, this is more of a pass league and we've had to restructure our recruiting a little bit. Luckily for us, we've got all of our numbers back now and have the ability to go big and if we needed to small/fast, we have the ability to do that to.
What does the impact of a healthy (defensive end Albert) McClellan has on our defense?
Oh, a lot. He's a good player. He's a very good player. A lot like the two defensive ends there in Madison.
You know I do. We went a little bit more to the running game with Josh Shannon (offensive coordinator) coming from Toledo but you have to have that big play wide receiver and that big play tight end that can make things happen for you.
Can you talk about where your program is now and do you feel like you need to reach a bowl for this season to be a success?
Well, yeah, you'd like to reach a bowl every year. In the past, I've felt I have been playing five card stud with three cards. We've got our numbers back. I think our team will get better each and every week and this will be a great test for us Saturday. We'll know exactly where we are at coming out of this game.