When I watch film I see a guy (USC QB MAtt Leinart) that has great accuracy, great size, and great intelligence. He’s going to be one of those guys that has a career that we all remember. They have outstanding running backs and great wide receivers. Williams is a remarkable athlete at 6’5” 230 lbs. He’s a great competitor, and he’s not the only outstanding receiver. So they have great balance which means you have to mix your coverages, disguise your looks, and tackle well. I think the biggest challenge for us is how to prevent the big play. We’ve done a good job of that, but certainly this is the best offense and the best team we’ve faced all year.
On USC’s style:
In many ways they are a lot like we are. They throw and run the football well and use a lot of formations. I think in studying Norm Chow down through the years, one thing he’s doing with his teams more than any others I’ve seen is throw the ball down field. They are going to stretch you horizontally and vertically and that presents a challenge for us.
On Jason Avant:
He’s doing well. We expect him to start practice on Saturday.
On if he’s glad the BCS standings matched Michigan versus a PAC-10 school:
I think that playing against the PAC-10 really adds something to that game. I can’t say that I was cheering to play Southern Cal from the standpoint that it does become a home game for them. They don’t have to travel and they’ll have a huge crowd there, as I’m sure we will. But from the standpoint of the PAC 10 and from the standpoint of USC being ranked #1 in the nation, I think that really adds something to the Rose Bowl and to the experience that we’re all going to enjoy.
On if he thought after the Big 12 title game that there was any way they’d be matching up with the Trojans.
No I didn’t. I was surprised. There’s a lot of criticism of the BCS, and I have a vote in the coaches’ poll. The truth is the BCS was set up to get a meeting between #1 and #2. When we put the computer part of it in, it had some ramifications that were unforeseen. So I’m certain that there are going to be some adjustments there. But I think the controversy is great. It really doesn’t matter unless you have a full fledged playoff of say 16 teams. And THEN there’s going to be controversy because someone is going to get left out or somebody is not going to be seeded where they think they should be. You always want to maintain the significance of the regular season. Today in college football, every single game is important. That’s why across the country those stadiums are packed at the end of the season. The enthusiasm for college football never wanes from the beginning to the end. I hope the bowl season never ends, but this season I wish they had a 4 team playoff (laughing). I think someday that may happen.
On some of the coaches choosing not to automatically vote for the winner of the Sugar Bowl #1:
I think that we as coaches agreed that we would support the winner of the BCS championship game as the national champion, and that’s what I intend to do. Now remember, in 97 the writers proved to be much smarter about their choice than the coaches. (laughing). Regardless of how it ends up, it certainly something that we as coaches hadn’t envisioned. I don’t think it’s something I would like to do. I certainly would like to vote for the team that I felt deserved the national championship. But by the same token, we agreed to this system. Until it’s changed, I think that’s what we should do.
On Pete Carroll’s defense:
Well, Pete was an assistant coach at North Carolina State with Monte Kiffin. What really impresses me most is they are only giving up 1.9 yards per rush. That’s what it’s all about. They don’t give up a lot of big plays. They are very well coordinated. You don’t see people out of position. They play a lot of 2-deep zone and they get great pass rush with the front four. One of the challenges for us, or anyone that plays them, is to protect the QB. They’ve been able to do a great job against the run with 7 men up front. That enables them to play that 2-depp zone, which is very difficult to throw the football against. They do bring the safeties down and they give you a lot of movement up front, and they are a very well coordinated/defensive oriented team.
On the practice schedule:
Those are traveling from Michigan are going to leave here Saturday Morning.
We’re all due in by 12:30. We’ll have lunch, then a meeting, and
then a practice. Then the 21st, the 22nd, and 23rd, we’ll have a short
practice in the morning which will be devoted to special teams and other things
that we want to emphasize, then in the afternoons we’ll have more of a
regular practice. On the 24th we move up to Los Angeles, and have dinner. We
have Christmas day off. Then we go into regular preparation.