Coach Carroll press conference notes

Pete Carroll talks about Washington, the state of the Trojans, the running game, Carson Palmer, Shaun Cody and more

from usctrojans.com:

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

"We find ourselves in a very difficult position coming off the first part of the season. We have to face a very difficult Washington team in a very difficult position. It calls for us to rebound and bounce back and to get our attitude good again. We need to try to get our first win in the Pac-10. In regards to what we are doing right now, I'm really disappointed that we have really turned the same type of performance in these last three games that we have come up short in all of them. The moral victories don't exist. I think we have assessed the progress that we have made here very carefully and understand that it's really important at this point to step back and get fundamentally right in a number of areas on our team. We need to keep ourselves from hurting ourselves. We have found ourselves in some bad positions either with turnovers or bad penalties. We have got to get rid of that approach to our game. We do that by working very hard fundamentally and the things that we can do well. We have to come down a bit so we can do that. It's been almost a teaser to be so close in these games and think that we are just about ready to get over the hump, but yet as I look at it, there are a lot of areas where we are not as sharp as we need to be. We are going to go back and address those and go up to Washington to put a game where we can play a good fundamental football game and find out where we are at when we get that done. I think we made too many mistakes in the last three weeks to know where we are. It's a great challenge for us to rise up and do good things. I know the fight and the heart is there because it's obvious, but now we have to play better football or we will have a very difficult time against a tough Washington team."

Talking about penalties and dealing with the players on that issue...

"We deal with all of those things as we need to. It's one of those points where it is so clear that we were out of line that I needed to make a big-time statement at the time because that's the way I felt. We continue to stress it, we had an early meeting about it and we will address it during practice. As far as punishment, that will be handled on a player by player and situation-by-situation. We need to move forward and not dwell on what happened. We are going to move ahead and do the things that we need to do to fix the situation. We need to remedy the situation, that's what is so hard to take about it. There were four plays in the Stanford game that were deplorable and you fight too hard for 60 yards to give them up in such a manner. That's not going to be characteristic of this team or program. I was really disappointed and I reacted the way I felt. It's very easy to fix."

Talking about helping the young offensive line...

"We need to help them as coaches and help them to be focused on the things that we are trying to do. In these last couple of games, we have been in situations where we thought we were going to win and have been progressing at such a rate. As I assess now, we haven't made as much progress. We need to draw back and make sure that everything we are asking of our guys is really fundamentally correct to do and doing that will be able to eliminate the errors. Our focus is not on the offensive line, it's on the way we are approaching all phases from the coaches on down and how we can remedy the situation. It's really easy to try pointing fingers at one place. Our guys are going to battle back and we are going to help them do that."

Talking about catching the mistakes earlier in the season...

"I don't see that as much as I am disappointed that I didn't catch this sooner and assess that we weren't where we wanted to be. We are taking a step back here to really get fundamentally sound and make sure that we guarantee that. We have felt like that we were able to grow with what we were doing, but we are doing too much. We are going to help our guys and help them to be more accountable by the way we approach our planning. We are so close that we thought we were going to be able to jump over the hump, but we really aren't right now. We have got to back up and get our game back."

Talking about how to change things around...

"We have been working a lot on fundamentals, but we need to work more sound scheme wise. That means more reps against more schemes and looks to make sure our players have everything ironed out. That is where the emphasis is going. I want to make sure that fundamentally we are prepared and they know exactly what is asked of them. We can eliminate mistakes in that manner. The technique stuff may have to take a little bit of a back seat. We are seeing some very difficult schemes and advanced approaches from people because they are at that stage in their development and we are not handling it as well as I thought we would. We need to back up from the physical side of it and make sure we are accountable from the assignment and scheme side. That is how we will adjust our preparation. We are showing our inexperience. It's a fundamental thing that happens. I'm hoping that we will see progress. Part of that is the decision making before and after, we need to get that done. Our whole mentality needs to be sharpened up. Our guys are willing to work their tails off and we need to do a really good job of putting them in the right situation."

Talking about quarterback Carson Palmer...

"I think without question we would be really helping our team if we were more effective running the football. I think it would help us in terms of our throwing and play action game, which we would like to do more during the game. It would help overall how much time we spend on the field on the offensive and defensive sides in terms of time of possession. It would help us in terms of defensively. Someone would say why don't you just throw the football? Well that's because it wouldn't help us develop as a program. That might give us a chance in one football game, but that's not going to give us a chance to grow. All of this goes to help the quarterback, but this is just one facet of the game. We need to secure that position by doing other things well. Carson is under the gun right now. We are getting pressured; we are not running the ball very well. He is handling it as well as he can. He is busting his tail and studying. We need to make it easier for him by running the ball.

Talking about having Palmer throw 40-45 times in a game...

"Honestly, it depends on the situation. There are games where we would like to do it, but only by choice and not because we have to do it. Not because we are not doing something well. I love throwing the football and love throwing the ball down the field and on the perimeter. If that's all we do, we become too single dimension and it's easier to attack us from a defensive standpoint. We have some inexperience up front and we need to help the whole thing out."

Talking about superstitions...

"I am not a superstitious person. In fact, if I see parking spot No. 13, I will take it so no one else has to take it."

Talking about injuries...

"Ryan Nielsen hurt his shoulder pretty good and he will be out a couple of weeks. Bobby DeMars will be out for some time as well. He had a stinger injury that reoccurred. Matt Grootegoed is really close to being back. He will practice this week. He is physically ready to play, it's just a matter of whether he can take hits."

Talking about play of freshmen...

"We are pleased with a number of kids. Shaun Cody is going to get his first start this week. Kenechi Udeze is going to get another start. We are really pleased with that. You will see a little bit more of Darryl Poston and Mike Patterson. We have some young kids that are growing with experience. I would like to keep it somewhat limited and bring them up the right way. Shaun just happened to be competitive from day one. He has earned his chance to start. He has busted his tail and he has done well. We are happy to play some young kids for different reasons and I'm glad they have made some progress."

Talking about Shaun Cody...

"We came in thinking of him to give him a start at the end position and really the development of Kenechi (Udeze) made a difference. We wanted to put DeMars in the tackle position for his experience and got nicked so Udeze got to jump into there. We had to find a way to get both Shaun and Kenechi on the field at the same time so the move to tackle just gave Shaun more flexibility to play. He has done well and can be comfortable in different positions."

Talking about special teams...

"We made a little progress on kickoff coverage from the week before, but it's still not as much as we should have. That's still a big area of focus for us. Some guys who are good athletes made some good plays for us last week. We covered punts well and we just need to make a jump in terms of our kickoff coverage. David Davis will have a good season for us and is making some progress. We are growing and getting a little better. You will see some front-line players put back into the special teams in order to ensure we are getting good play."

Talking about Washington special teams...

"They have done a little bit of everything. The Michigan game was dependent upon them playing well on special teams. It will be hard to deal with them this week."

Talking about motivation...

"There are all kinds of things that we have to keep looking at in order to get our guys going. I have thought that motivation is an individual thing where you try to find that one thing that you can spark them with. Trying to do it with a whole group is difficult so I just try to do it on an individual basis."

Talking about difference between the attitude during the current losing streak and last year's five-game losing streak...

"The attitude is different. I'm not dwelling on what was in the past. I have been interested to see how guys have been affected and how they have responded to see how we can move on. We are working hard to maintain an upbeat attitude and see what we can do in the future."

Washington Head Football Coach Rick Neuheisel

Assessment of first three games of the season

"We are pleased that we have been able to stay unscathed as far as the record goes, but certainly we are not anywhere close to where we see as the finished product. We've got a lot of work still to do on both sides of the football. Last week, we were fortunate to win a game at California. We just didn't play inspired football at the start, but fortunately we woke up and found a way to win the game. We've got to play much better this week against USC if we expect to get a win. We need a great week of practice in anticipation for the game against a hard-luck team. USC has so many athletes and they are well coached. I am hopeful that we can have a great week of practice and play our best on Saturday."

Talking about the key offensive performers...

"Certainly we are excited about (quarterback) Cody Pickett. Cody has done some good things, in the first two weeks. He played very efficiently; we didn't give him the whole ball of wax as far as our offense is concerned. We wanted to play within ourselves and give our offensive line a chance to grow. Last week, there were some fundamental things with Cody that I thought we took a step back on, but we are going to address those issues this week. He did have the experience of coming back in a game and throwing balls down the field. Those are all big pluses in the development of a young quarterback. (Flanker) Paul Arnold is doing a nice job as a wide receiver, but is learning the nuances of the position. He is an explosive athlete and once he is out on the open field, he is hard to catch. (Split end) Reggie Williams is a young freshman that has been really exciting. At times, he looks like a guy who has been in college football for a long time and at times, he looks like a freshman. We have to remember that he hasn't been to a lot of classes yet so we have to keep bringing him along. We have a nice corps of receivers. Hopefully, we can continue to develop."

Talking about defense...

"Well we have played good defense at times, but certainly, not the beginning of the California game. That was not what you would consider vintage Washington defense. I'm not exactly sure why. We thought we had prepared, but it appeared that we had not done that and the blame falls on my shoulders. We have got to figure out how to play better for a whole game. Fortunately, we found a way to get it going and forced a lot of three-and-out series. We tackled well and I do believe we have some talented defensive players. Much like our offense, we have to continue to grow together and have our younger players mature quickly."

Talking about two-year hiatus on playing USC and about the USC team...

"I don't know that it will have any effect because even if we had played them, with the new coaching staff there would be a lot of change. I think our players are looking forward to playing USC and I think they are looking forward to playing us. It has been a storied rivalry and certainly a lot of great tradition in both programs. I think the people who attend the game or watch on the television are going to be treated to a whale of a football game."

Talking about putting his USC law degree to good use...

"Hey, I paid a lot of money for that degree. I worked hard at that school. I want to say hello to all of the professors at the law school who helped me."

Talking about matchup between USC running game and Washington defense...

"I don't necessarily think that USC has been unsuccessful at running the ball, obviously the numbers would bear that out. I think they are just finding themselves. Again, this is a new coaching staff and like us, they have a very young offensive line. They are tinkering and just quite haven't found the combination that they are looking for. Norm Chow is regarded around the country as one of the best in the business and I don't expect anything less than great things from them when they play here on Saturday."

Talking about playing at UCLA with the UCLA-USC rivalry...

"I always get excited about the USC Trojans. They have great tradition as I mentioned earlier. Being a former UCLA Bruin, that was the game. Having participated in some of those great battles, I will take those memories fondly with me for all of my days. It was a great event in my life to be in those ballgames. You can't play the Trojans without thinking about all of those guys who have played in those uniforms and have gone on to great things beyond college. It's a great program and an honor to be on the field with them and to compete against them. At UCLA, it was the game of the year."

Talking about propensity for fourth-period comebacks...

"I don't want to get to patting myself on the back to the point where we break our arms because ultimately it means we were behind. It means we weren't playing well in the first three quarters. I do like the character in our program and the ability to never say die and not to point fingers at one another and expect a comeback. Those are great intangibles to have in a program. Ultimately, I would like to play better at the outset so we don't have to find ourselves in that situation as often as we have."

Talking about early assessment of the Pac-10 Conference...

"I think it's still a wide-open race. It looks like Stanford and Washington State are out of the blocks extremely quick. UCLA has only played one game in conference, but it was a very impressive win at Oregon State. Their nonconference schedule would tell you that they have been tested and it looks like their defense has been rolling. I would say that they should be considered a favorite. Oregon is ranked in the top six or seven in the nation and all they do is find a way to win. You can never overlook the Arizona schools...both teams play well. It's going to be a battle and you just have to expect that when you are in this conference."


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