Game Talk: USC 49, UA 9

Cat Tracks was in the Arizona and USC locker rooms after the game where Q&A sessions with players and coaches took place. Here is what both sides had to say.

Head Coach Mike Stoops

"I don't know where to start. USC is a very good football team. They're one of the better teams I've ever coached against. They make it look easy. They can hurt you in a lot of different ways. We got out-manned, out-played and out-coached. That's why they're the number one team in the country."

On USC making it a point to be more physical in the second half

"They started running downhill on us in the second half. We didn't attack well and we didn't hit the right gaps (on defense). We didn't execute well. We did not tackle well. We were fighting all we could."

On the various weapons USC possesses

"(Leinart) started hitting his receivers in the second half more and the tight ends got more of the action. They were running that tight end screen you are seeing more and more these days and it was giving us problems."

On if he feels like the team gets anything out of being so close in the game when it was 21-9

"No, not really. I am not proud of how we played in the second half. I'd hoped we'd have come out better. That defensive line of theirs really took it to us. That unit is a notch above everyone else in the conference and they were hard to match-up against."

On if he would compare USC to the number one teams he coached at Oklahoma

"They're similar in a lot of ways. They attack you and disrupt you. They have great talent all over the field, which is why they're the number one team. I have been on the other end. I think that they are playing as well as anyone."

On shutting Reggie Bush down

"That was good to see. Lendale (White) really got us. In the second half he was running downhill on us and that is really where the wheels just fell off. I really like the way he runs. There is something about him. Bush is the guy they like to get on the perimeter, but Lendale is their main guy. He is the one that they use when they are wearing people down."

On if he felt like his team was worn down

"I think so. They had way too many opportunities with the ball."

On if USC showed anything different than they were expecting

"Not really. We practiced everything they ran. They just executed very well."

Quarterback Richard Kovalcheck

On the way things changed in the middle to end of the third

"They just got the ball and rolled with it. They are a great team."

On where he would rank them amongst Cal and Wisconsin

"They are number one without a doubt."

On having 'SC defenders on top of him all night

"They have a great front four that gets a lot of pressure on you. They also have some great linebackers."

On losing the momentum after hitting Steve Fleming for a touchdown

"That is what great teams do. We had the momentum and they just snatched it right back from us."

On if regardless of the score, if he felt like there were specific times they executed well and felt they could compete

"There were some times we felt we could compete. When we did execute, it showed us that we are not that far away. It shows us that we do have the potential to reach that next level and become a championship team."

On the mood in the locker room after the game

"Everyone is obviously disappointed and down. We will pick our heads back up and start working on the Arizona State game. It is a game that is a rivalry and we would really like to win it for our seniors. If we can get a win, it will give us something to build on for next season. We plan on playing hard in that game."

Tight End Steve Fleming

On if they thought they had a real shot after his score to make it 21-9

"At that point we thought we were being real competitive and matching them play-for-play. So yes, we definitely felt like we were back in the game."

On if USC was more physical in the second half like they felt they needed to be

"I am not sure about that. I do know that they executed much better in the second half."

On where he would rank them amongst Cal and Wisconsin

"They are number one."

On if USC did anything that they weren't prepared for

"We were prepared for everything they did - they just executed."

On if beating ASU would be a semi-salvation for the poor season

"It could make or break our season. It has been a real frustrating year, obviously, but it would be nice to send our seniors out with a smile. It could also help us carry some momentum into next year."

Safety Tony Wingate

On if he feels the team was making more plays in the first half or it was a lack of execution on 'SC's behalf

"We came in feeling pretty good about our plan. We played well until the half. They went in and made a couple of adjustments and we knew in the second half they were going to try to run downhill on us. They were able to do that. We can't take anything away from them. They found a way to dominate and play on a championship level."

His thoughts on Reggie Bush and Lendale White

"Both of those guys were making plays and that is why they are number one."

On if they can take anything away from playing well enough to make it 21-9

"The first half was good for us so we are all happy about that. The second half, I am embarrassed with the way we played. We did not have any guys making plays like we did in the first half."

On what to look forward to in the ASU game

"The ASU game is everything to us right now. We can end the year on a good note and probably keep them from getting to a big bowl. We will give everything we have in that game."

USC Head Coach Pete Carroll

"This was a wonderful accomplishment for our program to clinch the conference titile and the Rose Bowl. It's a huge focus of this team and this program and I couldn't be more excited about where we are. Arizona gave us problems early on, but we kept going and got it done. There were a lot of great things at the Coliseum tonight with David Kirtman getting his first touchdown and Hershel Dennis getting his first of the year. Now, we'll try to maximize the bye week and take the next two."

On his focus with the bye week

"We have a formula for the bye. We always keep pushing the younger guys in for playing time. And we try to fix some holes and get ready for the biggest part of the year. It's nice to get some of the guys healthy again."

On Lendale White

"Lendale ran as hard as he has all year. He just keeps chugging away. That long run was great."

On whether White gets enough media attention

"He gets a ton of credit with us. He's our fire. He's a big-time player. Reggie has all the flash and all of those wonderful things, but Lendale epitomizes our style."

USC Running Back Lendale White

On the slow start

"We had a couple good drives early on - we just didn't capitalize. Turnovers keep biting us in the butt. In the second half, though, the offensive line got more physical and things really opened up. They cleared the holes and we ran through them."

On his game

"I was on a mission tonight. I wanted to run through everyone and make them all feel what I bring."

On the meaning of tonight's game

"We have to stay focused. We got our goal of the Rose Bowl. But with that accomplished, we know we want more. We want the Orange Bowl."

USC Linebacker Lofa Tatupu

On the defense

"Coach Carroll and staff once again put together a great game plan. We went out, pushed, and played aggressive with them. Their quarterback is new to the Pac Ten and we wanted to welcome him in."

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