"I got up late, and ended up watching a little USC film at home. I was just getting the general feel for what I thought I saw. Needless to say I'm very impressed with them. I watched quite a bit. I think they're the best USC team since I've bee here. They might be the best team we've played since I've been here. They're a good football team. Defensively, they give you a lot of looks and they're athletic. Offensively, Carson Palmer has come into his own. And they're the best group of receivers we've played against this year. And now they're running the football, so they're twice as tough. And they have the leading punter in the conference. So it's a heck of a challenge for our football team."
Is this your best group of freshmen?
"As a group, yeah. We've had good freshmen before, but as a group they're the best since I've been here."
What are you doing this week to prepare for USC?
"Well, we're not going to put up any locker room material, nothing in the locker room until next week. Next Monday. We'll shorten practice this week, work on fundamentals, and not put in the big game plan this week. We'll put in a few things. But basically we'll try to get better as a team. Focus on us, not on USC, this week."
Are you worried about one of your quarterbacks becoming unhappy down the line with not being the main quarterback or sharing time?
"I don't foresee that happening right now. They're both young guuys, and they're both competing, and both playing. They're playing more than they thought they would this year anyway. If it were any other position, it'd be different. Why can't two guys play? If we treat them right, and they perform well, both of them can play and be happy here."
How is the defense playing in your opinion?
"I think we're dong a lot of good things. Unfortunately, we've given up some big pass plays. With the exception of the Colorado game, we're playing the run well. We're getting pressure on the quarterback, and getting him out of his rhythm. Our defensive backs are doing a good job, and we're tackling well."
When you do you think you'll really know what you got for the long term in the two freshman quarterbacks?
"I think I know what I got, and I'm pleased with what I have. I would say much will happen in the off-season, during spring ball. That's when you have the biggest change. Right now, they're getting playing time and performing at a good level. Both have bright futures here. I feel good about it. I have two guys who can play."
Are you comfortable alternating them every quarter?
"That'd be allright. Right now they're both very similar. Both do many of the same things. There isn't a big different between the two right now. Both throw the ball well, and both are very accurate. They call the right formations and plays. I'm really pleased. The team has a lot of confidence in them right now."
Will Olson start against USC and how will you divide reps in practice?
"The plan right now is for Olson to start.. But we could plan to continue to play both of them, then we'll split the reps equally as best we can."
Did you ever expect that both of them could perform this well?
"I think they've exceeded our expectations. We knew when we got them in camp that we had some special guys there. Again we had to make a decision, to try to redshirt Matt Moore, because he just turned 18 when we started camp. He hadn't played quarterback very long. He looks like he has, but he hasn't."
Will Rod Leisle play against USC?
"I'd venture to say that he's going to be bakc. If he plays will be determined by how well he runs around this week and next."
How will you approach the last two games from a mental standpoint?
"Well, there's not a not a lot of pressure on us right now. We can then go out and have some fun. We're 7-3 and not many people are giving us a chance to win the last two, from what I'm hearing. So, we can go out, have some fun, let it rip and see where it takes us."
Do you think you should be ranked in the top 25?
"It's hard to say. We have lost two league games by a total of five points. I would hope that we're one of the top 25 teams in the country. It doesn't bother me, though, that we're not ranked. It doesn't matter much."
What young players will you take a look at this week in practice?
"Just the young guys in general. No one in particular."
You did scout team scrimmages last year in your bye week. Will you do it again?
"We have done scout team scrimmages, but we probably won't. We did it before in the bye week before our last game. We probably will in a couple of weeks. We don't want to get them all banged uup. But we'll bang them a little and see what they can do."
What do you attribute to your success on the week after a bye?
"Giving the kids some time off, give them rest, that's a big thing. Trying to get the players a little of the game plan every day. Don't give them too much too early. It's get a little stale. Like with a bowl game, if you give them too much too early, they're tired of it. So, we cut practice this week, have fun, and laugh and joke a little bit."
Since there's no practice today, what are you and the coaching staff doing today?
"We're working today on recruiting."
Do you think that you have to do some catching up on recruiting? That your recruiting has slipped?
"I kind of laughed at all this. We're doing allright in recruiting.. We're calling kids, kids are coming to our home games. We just haven't pulled trigger on many. I think a lot of kids are showing interest in us. We'll end up with good recruiting year. I think a lot of other coaches are using the hot seat deal against me. But I don't beleive I'm on the hot seat. Its interesting, since we don't have a lot of commitments, people don't think we're doing well in recruiting. I think we'll be fine."
Heath-wise, the team seems to be in pretty good shape...
"Physically, there are a few guys nicked up, bumped and bruised, but there are not a lot of serious injuries. That's one thing about this week, too, we don't want to get anyone hurt in practice."
What's the status of Jibril Raymo and Ryan Smith?
"I saw Raymo today and he said he feels better. I haven't seen Smith. He just needed some rest and time off. And we have another week. I think there's a good chance that both will be back for the USC game."
Do you have any kind of regrets about not going to Fikse as your field goal kicker earlier?
"I've given him chances. You all have been out to practice. Until this year he wasn't really accurate. He had a strong leg. He could kick it a long way, but didn't make many of them. We've had kicking contests, where they kick from the left hash, the middle and the right hash, and Griffith won the contests. He deserved the chance. But once e got his kicks blocked, after the second game it happened, it was time to try Fikse."
He looks like he's very confident...
"He's playing with a great air of confidence. And the team's very confident in him. He gets the ball up so quick, and it explodes off his foot. What I'm most excited about, he's a student of game of kicking. He understands kicking better than most coaches. He's worked extremely harder."
How do you think Manuel White did in his first game back?
"We were pleased. You watched him in practice last week. He was trying to get his legs back. But in the game when he got his hands on the ball, he was trying to make up for lost time. He moved the pile. And I was pleased he got that touchdown."
Will his role increase for the USC game?
"It may. We have to look at the game plan and where we can insert him. He can play both positions, and help on special teams. He was very good on the punt team before he got hurt."
Do you look at the schedule – with two byes before two top ten teams – advantageous?
"I think it's all fun, and exciting. We get a week off, and then we give it our best shot against one top ten team. Then we get another chance to rest up again and give it another shot. The schedule couldn't have worked out any better right now. We've had a tough hall for 14 weeks, but the schedule is working out well now. We play two teams in the top ten, at home, so it should be a lot of fun."
Do you look at the last three games that those were games against three teams toward the bottom of the conference?
"I look at the positive side, that we beat three teams we needed to beat. In this day and age, it's hard to win any football games. So I'm pleased we won those three in a row, particularly in November. November hasn't been really kind, so we're doing well right now."