They Won't Change Much and Neither Will We

Eugene -- When the media showed up for Mike Bellotti's weekly media conference they found they would have a special guest calling in – USC Head Coach Pete Carroll. While the two did not hold a joint news conference many similar questions were asked of each. Oregon and USC will square off this Saturday in Los Angeles for a 5 p.m. (Pacific) start in the Coliseum.

One of the first questions asked to both coaches was what they felt about the comparison of talent between the two teams. Not too surprising, both coaches were complimentary toward the other squad.

"I think they look like a terrific team," said Carroll of Oregon. "They have really good guys in their front sevens…big, strong guys. They execute well, they've always had good skill people and they've got them again. The secondary is really loaded up. Running back, great job getting (LeGarrette) Blount. The quarterback situation, they're a little banged up but they are going to perform well. They put up hundreds of yards. They look great and we expect it to be extremely difficult."

Bellotti's response was also the stuff for which no bulletin board material can be posted.

"USC is one of the most if not the most talent teams in the nation," answered Bellotti to the question of talent comparison. "Last year they had nine guys that were drafted in the first 60 picks in the NFL, or something like that, so we have approached those kinds of numbers yet. I think our first group on offense, defense are very good. I think our depth doesn't quite match theirs in terms of caliber of players. Obviously we like whom we have and you only get to play 11 at a time."

Carroll and the Trojans have the luxury of being right in the middle of the prime recruiting ground in the country. Carroll admits that hundreds of players have come out of the Los Angeles area and while many expect them to real in all the big fish, it doesn't always happen, as USC can only take so many players each year. When talking about Oregon's seniors from LA, Carroll says that USC recruited all of them to a certain point and each would have his own story to tell in regard to what happened.

"Great players get away from us so guys like Jaison Williams have had great careers and done cool stuff," admitted Carroll. "We watched them for years down here and watched them play in the conference and have a lot of respect for them and really happy that they been so effective in their careers."

Another question asked both coaches is how they will prepare for each other. Carroll talked about Oregon's running game Bellotti spoke about USC's great speed.

"You can't ignore the running game with over 300 yards rushing," Carroll said of the Ducks. "It starts with the running backs and quarterback is a big factor as they give everybody the ball. You have to start inside out, as there is no other way of doing it."

Bellotti felt Oregon State had a great game plan against USC and executed it well. The Beavers used basically a vertical running game to avoid losses plus a quick passing game to keep the OS quarterback out of risk and a screen game to keep the USC defense off balance. The Oregon coach indicated that the Ducks won't mimic OS's plan but certainly there were things that Oregon State did against USC that is already in Oregon's playbook. Likely the Ducks will use misdirection to counter USC's great team speed plus the no-huddle, hurry up style of play will help Oregon too.

"We're going to run routes that allow the quarterback to get rid of the ball quickly and utilize the screen game to neutralize the rush," said Bellotti of what Oregon may do.

"They don't change all that much but we're not going to change all that much either," concluded Bellotti of what he expects from both sides on Saturday.

"We're not going to change what we do or mimic that," said Bellotti on how the Ducks would prepare for USC. "Certainly elements of our offense that contain those things that we can focus on. When you play against a team with great speed you're not going to want to run laterally a great deal. We're a little different in that we're no huddle. With great speed you try to use that speed against them with misdirection stuff.

Why then is USC so hard to prepare for?

"Talent, depth and coaching," replied Bellotti. "Those three things, I think they do a nice job."

Bellotti says USC is "one of the most talented teams in the nation and their depth goes deeper than most teams." Bellotti also compliment Carroll's coaching staff indicating the players are motivated to perform.

While Bellotti doesn't feel that many of the players currently on USC's roster ever visited Oregon, he does admit that the Ducks talked to many while in the recruiting process. Even so, it really makes little difference in preparing for the Trojans that the Ducks coaches know so many of USC's players personally.

If anyone is concerned about the fact many of the players on the Duck roster are from Southern California and may find going home a distraction the coaching staff emphasizes that the road game is first and foremost a business trip, not a visitation.

"It's not a vacation," explained Bellotti as to what he preaches to his team. "It is go there to do our business and that is play our best football and win the game."

On the injury front both coaches had reports on current situations.

There is no decision on Duck quarterback Justin Roper, but that could change based on whether he will be in practice on Tuesday. Roper apparently had a case of the flu on Monday. Roper missed the Boise State and Washington State games due to an injured knee.

Wide receiver Jamere Holland was still not cleared from a concussion he suffered last week in an auto accident. While Holland told the coaches he is feeling fine, he still has a battery of test he must pass before he can return to practice. He may be able to do that on Tuesday afternoon.

Linebacker Eddie Pleasant has been able to run but not wear his helmet due to stitches in his head resulting from the same car crash that gave Holland the concussion. Pleasant told Bellotti that the stitches come out on Tuesday but whether the linebacker is able to practice remains to be seen.

Carroll indicated that Brian Cushing and Taylor Mays practiced yesterday and are fine. Rey Maualuga did not and is day to day. He won't practice today and will see doctors tonight. Maualuga's status will be determined after that. Carroll indicated that while the Maualuga's knee was sprained during the Oregon State game, there was little swelling so it is just a matter of how things go in the next couple of days. Carroll indicated the USC coaching staff wouldn't make any decision on Maualuga until the end of the week.

This maybe the first game ever when two sets of brothers will be on opposing sidelines. Casey and Clay Matthews are both linebackers for Oregon and USC respectively while offensive tackle Fenuki and defensive tackle Christian Tupou will see each other on the playing field at the same time.

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