Sept. 2, 2003
Pete Carroll Press Conference - Sept. 2, 2003
"We're real pleased to get off to that kind of start and get off to a big day at Auburn. It was a great reward for all of the hard work in the off-season and in camp and we're real pleased with it. There's a lot of good things that happen. A bunch of positive things and a lot of opportunities to teach our football team how to get better in all areas. Hopefully we can put the game in its place and take it in stride and get pumped up for coming home. It's a big deal to play our first home game and getting something going. To have a big season you've got be strong at home, so with great pride we prepare for this home opener. We're looking forward to it.
"BYU is a team that gives us an enormous amount of problems. It's an unusual team, defensively in particular. Offensively, they called about 60 passes last week, so it's a team that loves to throw the ball. They're very well equipped, very well coached and designed really well offensively. It's a very good scheme and we're challenged by all of that. They looked very fast against Georgia Tech and had a good win. All of it builds to another great week of preparation. We feel fortunate we're pretty healthy for the most part. We look forward to a big game at the Coliseum."
(regarding some of the players who performed well in their first game) : "It was real obvious to us and it was worth noting in the lockerrrom as far as the first-time players. Obviously, Matt Leinart was the first guy to take any real serious snaps at quarterback. To have a game where he managed the whole thing extremely well and played like a poised upperclassman and veteran guy, we were thrilled about that. Hershel Dennis started his first game and played well. But to see the young guys come off the bench - Reggie Bush was in early and Chauncey (Washington) and LenDale (White) carried the ball and performed admirably - was really a plus because we need those guys to be in our lineup playing. Fred Matua started for the first time. Darnell Bing had a big game for us and played like he'd been around. It was really a plus for us to see him play with confidence, execute and make big plays. It was a big question mark going in. That was really exciting for us. We played a lot of guys and rotated a lot of guys in and it will help down the road. Will Poole had a very big game. He made a big impression with his physical nature and had three big tackles and did some other things. Now we've got that under our belt, we gotta see how the guys come back the second time."
(regarding the defense) : "We had a great start coming off a lot of build-up. I'm leery of that kind of talk and don't like to play to it at all. Our guys just got back to business. I was impressed we were able to handle the line of scrimmage against a good offensive line and a good running team. All the guys up front played well. Michael Patterson played exceedingly well and (Shaun) Cody, getting back in action for the first time, played well and Kenechi Udeze played well. Coming off the bench, LaJuan Ramsey had a big impact at a couple different spots. It started up front. Lofa Tatupu was a guy we didn't mention earlier. He played very well. Matt Grootegoed was the guy making plays. He was out there pounding guys and knocked the ball loose a couple times and made critical tackles. Our corner play from Kevin Arbet, Marcell Allmond, Will Poole and Ronald Nunn, all of those guys contributed to keeping the pass game in check so we could focus on the run. It was what we expected, but you never know. To see it in the first quarter and to get a sense for it off the back was really pleasing. We didn't start well against Auburn last year, so it was important to start well this year. Nothing stood out much, it was just a good solid game."
(regarding whether he entertained the notion of getting a shutout before the game) : "We thought we'd have a much more difficult time than that. We always want to play well, but the mindset is not to get shutouts. We play the game and see what happens. Honestly, once you get the sense that this is one of those games where you can get one, it mounts a bit during the game. We were very fortunate that we played so well offensively as a team. To get a shutout, you need that kind of an effort. It takes a whole team effort. All phases contributed to a really successful night."
(regarding whether the offense might be less conservative against BYU now that first-year starting QB Matt Leinart has a game under his belt) : "We just play the games. We don't go in to be conservative or wide open. We play the way we play. We have a style we like playing and take what comes to us. When we're able to hold the score down like that, we could sense it was going to be one of those days and there were some decisions in the game that were conservative, but it was what suited the game. But we'll go out and play the game and we've got thoughts on how to do it and we'll see what's there and available. We adjust as the game carries on."
(regarding what type of problems BYU's unique defense will cause) : "They wreak havoc with you. They're all over the place. They're fast. It's a very interesting scheme. There's a real style to it. We're trying to figure it out and it's hard to uncover what they're doing. They attack a lot, they blitz a lot, they move people around all the time. The secondary is disguised well in unusual fashion. We have to try to solve the problem. They're an atypical defense and it poses problems for the quarterback and the coaches. They can give you a bad day, because if they get going with their pressure, they can give you a bad day. They really made it hard on Georgia Tech."
(regarding concerns of a letdown) : "It's always a thought. However, we need to find out if this year's team understands how to stay focused and come back. We really learned how to do that the last couple years and I'm proud of that, that we could play on a consistent basis and that to me is paramount to our success. If we can figure that out and not be up and down with our performance. It's a young team with young guys at critical spots and we need to bring them along. Right now, I have no idea how it will work out. It has nothing to do with who we're playing. It's the big hype of the first game and accomplishing something we set out to do could effect us. We need to stay focused, not just for BYU but for the ability to handle it all the way down the schedule."
(Regarding the play of first-time player Lofa Tatupu and how he got to USC) : "First we saw the film. We saw Lofa come in as a freshman. He wasn't starting. They didn't know who they had either. He'd come in and play in segments and make almost every tackle and every play. It was obvious he was an instinctive football player. Considering the level of play, we were trying to figure out what that meant and how we could interpret it. We fell in love with his instincts and his natural abilities. He has such sense for finding the ball. It was exciting to get him out here. He's a good sized, solid kid and very sincere and a wonderful kid. We really did take a chance. We weren't sure what we were getting. It's hard. We didn't see him in high school. We took a shot and it's a beautiful result for us. He's a starter and will be a leader in the future. We really lucked out. He wasn't recruited much. He was smaller and people didn't know where'd he play. Sometimes a guy's special instincts will get lost. Thankfully Mosi (Tatupu, his father and a former Trojan) took a chance and contacted us."
(regarding the play of Lee Webb at fullback) : "Lee got off to a pretty good start. He's a physical player and will get after you. He's upgraded the physical aspect of that position. He's a first-time starter for us and made some mistakes, but he'll get better and will improve a great deal and gives us a nice style fullback. I'm real pleased with that and I know he'll do better in the future."
(regarding the special teams) : "We haven't been as solid as you would like in the first couple of years. What we did wasn't spectacular other than maybe the 70-yard punt or the coffin corner kick. Overall, it was a beautiful performance by special teams in a contributing fashion. It helped with ball control. We kicked the ball out of bounds when we needed to. Our kickoff coverage was good."
(does he expect Darnell Bing to play) : "Sure I do. At this point, he can play. He feels like it. He finished the game and played a long time after he hurt his ankle. He seemed very positive about it."
(regarding areas in which he'd like to see improvement) : "There are a lot of things. Offensively, we missed some real opportunities in the run game by not scheming properly and not targeting the way we'd like to. We had some shots. We didn't maximize our opportunities. We need to play with more consistent effort, finishing plays on offense. On defense, as much as we stressed tackling, we still missed a number. I attribute part of that to Carnell Williams, who's a great player. We missed more than we wanted to in the opening game. We had some effort issues we were hard on. That was partially due to the weather but we weren't as complete as we should be chasing the ball. In the kicking game, we thought we kicked the ball well. Ryan Killeen played great. Tom Malone was inconsistent with placing the ball where we wanted him to. We're excited about the young guys, knowing now they've been in a game. Now we can see if we can take them up a notch in awareness, more understanding and play faster for us. There are all kinds of stuff that we're directed at this week."
USC Offensive Coordinator and former longtime BYU assistant coach Norm Chow
"First of all, I thought the Auburn game was outstanding for our young quarterback and our young football players. Matt really managed the game well. Missed some throws, did some things that we need to get corrected. We all need to get better. We missed some blocks and some assignments. For the most part, I thought what you expect from a quarterback in managing a game was terrific. Unfortunately, we can't linger on and enjoy it.
"The next one is up. People can say what you want about BYU. I enjoyed my time there. Everyone in the coaching profession understands that you won't be in it for very long. You've gotta move. My wife and I opted not to move. We wanted to raise our family as best we could. The time came when we had to move. I did not sit around waiting for the head coaching job. I was promised all kinds of things if I stayed. Administrations change, people change and we moved on. There is no bitter or tough feelings about it. I still have a home there. I enjoyed my time. I had great relations with my superiors. It was time to go. I realized it was time to go. LaVell (Edwards) was going to stay on another year. They had changed administrations. We were not going to be around. We'd still have a job if we wanted to. I was about to coach racquetball, so we moved on. Nothing more, nothing less. When the A.D. left, he called three people the night before. The basketball coach, LaVell and me. At that point in time, it was obvious it was time to move. It's not a hard thing to do in the profession.
"There's some coaches there I still know. After I left, LaVell was going to stay another year. He wanted us to stay, but I knew it would be much easier to find a job if you still had one. So I told him I'd look for another one. I was lucky to get on back in Raleigh.
"It's really not a big deal, nor is it a story. This game is important. If we want to continue to try to improve this program for where we want to go. This game is important no matter who we play. The tough part of this game is they run an unorthodox defensive scheme. It's taken us hours. We've spent late nights figuring it out.
"They play with three down linemen, three linebackers and five defensive backs. The five secondary people line up straight across the board and run to different spots. It's tough to read the coverage. It's a defense that seems to be gaining some popularity ... It's a coverage deal. The five guys are more coverage guys. The middle guy is diving into the line of scrimmage a lot like a mike backer. It's confusing and it'll be tough on our kids, but we're trying to get it squared away.
"I have a meeting myself in one hour (with the service team). It is tough. Those practice players, every week they're asked to do something different. It's hard to simulate different things.
(Did you feel you had an advantage at BYU with older players) : "Look, every program has problems. But discipline was not one of them. Because they'd go home to their wives after practice. That's part of it. Friday night staying in a hotel was not a big deal. You're playing with an offensive line that's probably 26 years old. If you've had children, at that stage, one year is a big difference in maturity, from 18 to 19, 19 to 20."