USC HEAD COACH PETE CARROLL
"Oregon is on the verge, in their eyes, of a great season and this game is a tremendous challenge for us in many ways. A road game, in the Pac-10 and the level of play (they are at). With all that's going on, we take this game very seriously. It's one that's caught our attention and our focus and I'm not concerned about our ability to focus this week. We'll tune in quite well. This is a big-time opportunity for SC right now. It's going to take an excellent game to get these guys. We'd love to get started on the right note in the Pac-10 and we couldn't make a bigger statement."
Re: The defensive line's task of containing Oregon QB Joey Harrington and the Duck offense and the line's play overall. "They have really come out throwing the ball really well the first two games. He's a great player. He's a pro player without question. They build the offense around his ability. They move him a lot, they play action. They do all kinds of things that really challenge a rush. The defensive line will have a big play in how we do in the game. It doesn't mean they won't run the ball, but if you can't contain Harrington, they'll have a big day ... We've been ok. Our pass rush that we hoped to see, against Kansas State, they ran so much, it wasn't an emphasis for us. But I think we're capable of playing good football. I'm counting on a good game. It's important they play well this week."
Re: Returning to the field. "This is challenging times for everyone. It's dividing your focus for obvious reasons. It seems like it's been forever since we've played. If you can remember how long last Tuesday and Wednesday seemed, those days felt like weeks. It has been a long time. We're ready to go to get back to it. It'll be good to get in a football game."
Re: Dealing with the Autzen Stadium noise and the ability to call audibles. "You always have to wait until you get there to see how you deal with it. But we've prepared. We spent time in camp and we spent time this last week. But you can't overemphasize it either. We have to take care of business and make sure we can communicate. That's basically what we're dealing with. Now we just have to handle it and maintain our poise and play good football ... You can still (call audibles) and Wisconsin did it. How effectively you audible is what's important. So you have to be very careful and it will restrict you in some regards."
Re: How good Joey Harrington is. "He's really good. He's big, he can move around. They run him with the ball, so he's got some ability to move in the pocket. He's got a strong enough arm to make all the throws and they throw a lot of downfield stuff and comebacks, routes where you need a strong arm. This guy is really well equipped. He's obviously a very bright player because they do so much. He can manage all the offense they put out there. I'm preparing as if this is an NFL quarterback because of the things he can do and the kinds of ways that he can read. We'll have to take care of business on our end of it, because if you don't, he'll tear you up. He's got a very good command of their system, which helps their whole program."
Re: USC's wide receiver depth. "We're thin in experience at wide receiver. No question. Our guys have got to come through. The guys that just came in, Grant Mattos and Devin Pitts, just arrived in fall camp so it's a lot to ask them to take a heavy dosage of the plays. We spot play those guys because they just haven't been around long enough. That calls for Kareem Kelly and Keary Colbert to do a solid job. Steve Stevenson will be back so that helps. We do not have experienced depth, so it calls for the starters to come through."
Q: With Malaefou MacKenzie out, does that mean Sultan McCullough has to take most of the load. "He has to really take the bulk of the carries. Knowing that Malaefou is out for this game and maybe next game, Sultan's duties have to be expanded. He has to do more and has to hang in there and be the guy that takes us through the ballgames. But Chris Howard is getting some work and we expect he'll be able to give us some quality plays as well as Charlie Landrigan and expanding his role."
Re: Frank Strong and how his return will help. "Frank has practiced at full speed and he's ready to go. He'll help us. He's had most of the preparation time with the first group up to his injury. But the problem is that Matt Grootegoed is banged up now and we don't know if we'll have him available to us. So we get one back and we lose one."
Re: If Grootegoed can't go, who would replace him. "John Cousins."
Re: How he prepares his team for playing at Oregon "I've been talking about playing on the road for a long time. It's not something you just break on them. It's a mentality about how you prepare. It doesn't matter who you're playing. You just have to take care of your own business. We're ready to do this. We have our procedures of how we're going to do it. We have to go to Oregon and see where we are. The crowd can prey on your confidence. Things don't go quite right and (the crowd) over-reacts to everything that they can. If you get into listening and reacting to them, they've done their job. Our ability to hold our focus is as big of a challenge as we'll face this time of year ... You don't know how anyone will react until you get there. So that's why you play and we'll find out where we are. But our guys have played in a lot of big games and difficult settings, our experienced guys have, and their leadership will help with the younger guys ... Our travel plans haven't really been affected."
Q: Is it good to get back? "Without question. From the President on down, he's calling for everyone to get back to business and back to work. The world will forever be changed, but we have to get back to business as usual. In college sports as much as anything, it's such a spectacle and there is such a build-up for it. For all of the people that follow it, we have a duty to carry out a first-class event and allow our fans and the people who watch he sport, to have their free time and be involved and have fun and have that sense of normalcy. I feel like we have a sense of added responsibility in that regard. We do need to put forth a good game and there's a lot of people counting on us for their enjoyment and fun. I think we have a role in bringing us back."
Re: On dealing with the past week with the players "We have addressed it and have made ourselves available and spent time, just small-talking with guys on the side and making sure they had a chance to talk to somebody. I want our guys to (realize) that this isn't just a one-day event. It's something that will change our lives and will affect us all. We have to work toward being prepared in whatever we do. But our guys have had an open opportunity to share their thoughts about whatever they want."