Coach press conference notes

Pete Carroll "We're happy to get back into a game week and anxious to get things started again. We won't know how successful the bye week was for us until we play the next game and so we'll find out on Saturday."

from usctrojans.com

USC Head Coach Pete Carroll

Opening Remarks...
"We're happy to get back into a game week and anxious to get things started again. We won't know how successful the bye week was for us until we play the next game and so we'll find out on Saturday. We're ready to get this going. We didn't benefit as much as we would have liked in regards to injuries. We thought we'd have some guys back from injury with the week off. We did practice aggressively last week so I hope that will help us get things going again against Arizona. This is a big game for us and a big opportunity. It all starts in Arizona."

Regarding Arizona's win last week...
"It was good, especially in assisting the coaches message about how they can win a football game and we need to be on our toes. They played very well last week and were able to beat a team that we have a lot of respect for. It was a big day for them on offense and Mike Bell had another big game. He's a very formidable running back. He's one of the better guys we've seen and you would have thought that (Clarence Farmer) was their big gun. Bell has shown that he could do everything Farmer could do. It will be a good challenge for us."

Difference between this bye week and the previous bye week...
"The only thing different was the emphasis. Our emphasis in the early part of the season was to develop our depth chart and give our young guys a chance to move up and get more playing time. That was not an issue this time at all. We just competed the whole week. It was all 1s against 1s, offense versus defense, and 2s against 2s to make the competition as heightened as we could make it. We had guys on one side of the ball winning and losing every day. We just emphasized everything more and tried to create a competitive atmosphere."

Injury update...
"The guys that we were hoping to get back - Matt Grootegoed and Chauncey Washington - those guys still don't look like they're a whole lot better off. These ankle injuries are just lingering and not allowing these guys to get back. I know that these guys, especially Matt, would do anything to get back on the practice field. He's just not able to perform well enough yet. It looks like he can until he really has to dig in and push off. Both of those guys are still real questionable for this week so we just have to wait and see."

Making "tailback by committee" work...
"It really has not even been a question. I'm not asking them if they're happy or not but they're smiling when they score and make plays. I really think that coach Kennedy Pola has done a really nice job off keeping everybody in the game plan. And Norm Chow, by calling the plays, has done a really nice job allowing guys to be successful. It seems like right now it's working out really well. Hershel Dennis takes the lead every week and does a nice job in the meeting rooms with the young guys. That's not an issue we're dealing with. I'm sure it will be an issue later on as you guys continue to make it an issue. These guys are happy to be part of the game plan and they're just looking to do well when they get in there. I think it's working out just fine."

Keeping focus off BCS...
"There are added elements of concern that we're drawing near the end. There's a lot of conversation and a lot of airtime about the standings so we can't help it getting to our players. But I feel real strong about the message that we carry through our team and we have guys in leadership positions that are really carrying the torch for us about how to handle the situation. It's pretty simple. It's a real simple formula. You work real hard every chance you get and then the rest of it does not really matter. You won't hear us talking about it much. It's really just about what we can do to get better for the very next thing we are doing. It is not a whole lot different than last year, but there is an element out there that we have to be concerned about. Some of our young kids have never been through this and they are playing integral parts of this football team so we have to keep an eye on them. We have to pay attention to their conversations, their tone and their work habits. It's fun to be a coach in this situation if this is the message or issue that you're dealing with, as opposed to other issues.

"I'm not hesitant to mention to them that it's really about these next three upcoming games. That we have to take care of these games first. I just want to worry about each day at a time. I just want to make sure we have a good Tuesday."

Tom Malone's punting...
"He might not get the recognition he deserves, but (Tom Malone) is having a fantastic year and he has helped out the team a great deal. He may not have the records, but he has what's more important."

Compensating for Dominique Byrd...
"Gregg Guenther has done a great job this season for us. Dominique Byrd is a fantastic player but we've had to make some adjustments. The explosive play has diminished, but other than that, we're getting what we want."

Arizona Head Coach Mike Hankowitz

On win over Washington... "I think it just confirmed to them that we are capable of better. That was our goal... to get closer to our potential and we knew that if we kept working that we would eventually get there. We've been through a lot of frustrating times but our emphasis was that we had to keep working with what we've got. We felt like we had a chance to beat TCU and UCLA, but didn't. Our goal was to keep fighting until we got one and now we want to try and get another one, even though it will be extremely difficult this week."

Is this your team now?
"I think the transition is over and the team has adjusted to doing things differently. For the time being I feel like it is my team, but we'll see what happens. I think the kids have done a great job of continuing to work and fight through everything. I am very pleased with how they've done."

Changes implemented...
"It is not that we changed anything drastically. I maintained the defensive coordinator's duties. I allowed the offense to incorporate their own ideas and utilize what they have. I think they've done a heck of a job that way. Practice-wise, our goal was to narrow things down... to try and get better at things; try to make practice a little more upbeat. I tried some new motivational things that I had been exposed to in the past. I can't really pinpoint a specific thing. The idea was just to be as positive as we could be and try to make things better. The kids have continued to work and we have gotten better."

On tailback Mike Bell...
"We saw the potential in him last week. I think the UCLA game was our first real glimpse when he had 11 carries and 94 yards. We just felt like if we gave him the ball more he would have the chance to get better. He's a competitor. He listens and tries to do what the coaches ask. He uses his instincts to know when to bounce and when to cut it back. I'm very pleased with the way he has developed."

On freshman quarterback Kris Heavner...
"I think he's gotten better each week. In the Oregon State game he was trying to do too much and trying to do it all himself. We tried to tell him that you can't win it by yourself. In the first half of the Washington game he was a little tentative, but in the second half he was 6-for-9 and made some key throws. He played better in the second half and we needed it. I think he's getting better each week.

"We saw good things from him in two-a-days, but we had two quarterbacks at that time that had been here and knew the system so we opted to go with them. But when we were struggling, we felt like we had to do something to get our offense going so we brought him up and started working with him and the second string. He made plays at practice that showed us that he was ready to compete so we decided to start playing him. But even in the first game he played he had only had three full practices to prepare. So he's just starting to get a lot of work."

On the defense...
"We've been inconsistent. I thought that in the TCU, Washington State and UCLA games we were starting to play like I'd hoped. We were not giving up sustained drives. We did give up some long plays, which was frustrating, but I thought we were making progress. Then we went to Cal and took a little step backwards because we allowed them to run the ball too easily on us. I thought we competed at Oregon State but we made too many mistakes. I was pleased that we came back in the Washington game and executed much better. Basically we prevented them from getting the running game going. We gave up some pass plays but I thought we did a good job. We sacked them four times, but we missed another three."

Thoughts about USC this week...
"They are one of the great teams in the country. They have great team speed and great depth at tailback. They have a great duo of receivers with (Mike Williams) and (Keary Colbert). I don't know of any team that has a better combination. They have a very athletic line. That's what impresses me about them. They are obviously big and strong but also very athletic. They can get up to the next level and their defense is one in which we would like to build towards in the future. One that has great speed and they play extremely well. It will be a tremendous challenge but our goal is to try and play better. Against TCU we played well, against Washington State we played well, but did not do so well against Oregon State. Our goal is to see if we can play better against a top team and they are certainly one of the top teams in the country."

Motivation of having impact on national polls...
"Well I'm sure that that's a tremendous motivation if I were a player at Southern Cal. Unfortunately that's not something we can worry about. We're just worried about ourselves and try to get ourselves to play as well as we're capable of. We have to worry about things that we can control."

How important is it to stop the run against USC...
"You have to defend their offense and practice against their offense. Their backs are excellent. When they hit that hole, they hit it fast. That's where they're dangerous. That will be a tremendous challenge. Washington had some speed at tailback, but not like this. Oregon State's back is a good back, but he did not have the speed that Dennis or Bush has. It will be hard for us to simulate. We will just have to do a great job of getting off the blocks, get in the correct paths and getting our secondary conversion as fast as we can."


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