Since it was the last MMQB until bowl time, I thought you all deserved a little more this time on the report. And I don't think Coach Carroll would object to the following:
It was a spectacular Monday Morning Quarter Back luncheon with over 150 people in attendance. Pete Arborgast got the ceremonies started by talking about the history of the USC program and where he feels it's headed - full speed ahead. He spoke of having patience for the program Pete Carroll and Norm Chow are putting in place. Stating that it would take a season or two to find the perfect players for their game plan, Arborgast also talked about all the practices and games he has attended, how the morale and heart of the team is unchallenged, thanks to the head coach. He believes we have found a diamond in Pete Carroll because his kids love him and play for him - this is the key ingredient to a successful college program.
In walks USC Head Football Coach, Pete Carroll and everyone in the house is on their feet offering a standing ovation that lasted a good while. The enthusiasm is evident and it is my opinion that the fans subconsciously reflect the attitude of the team. People are excited, not just about last week's performance, but the grit exuded by the players in the last three. That passion is our best weapon against, what most feel, is a more talented team in our cross town rivals. Carroll was asked how we stacked up against the Bruins and where our edge might be found. He paused and smiled. He feels the Bruins are a very talented ball club, with or without Deshaun. They've got players on both sides of the ball and their one point loss to the Ducks was nothing to be ashamed of. Although he too questioned the two point call - granted he agreed that with as much time was left on the clock that it made the decision close. He promised, however, if faced with the same scenario he'll go for two. In looking at the matchup, he likes our special teams and air attack. He knows we have to build on what we accomplished on the ground last week against Cal. That said, he had hopes that we might get some surprise help from a certain back returning for the game, but couldn't be certain. He thought Howard did an excellent job and they will continue to work on getting him outside where his running is most damaging. He also thinks Palmer has come of age in these last few games and is anxious to watch him produce this Saturday. Names were not mentioned, but SC has some players seriously nicked up. Carroll was thrilled with the secondary play and will do some more unique rotations with the talent. Arbet is 100 percent, which is good, because a couple of our boys are still amongst the walking wounded. And of course, Groots is out. Carroll couldn't stress enough how much they will miss Matt on the field. He was very excited about Prosser and Cousins however, and showed us numerous plays where our linebackers were just laying wood to the Cal offense. For those who did not travel north for the Cal game, you missed out. The speed that SC exhibited in this last match was astounding; from qb sacks, corner back hits and safety interceptions, USC was all over the field - fast. Speaking of speed, John Cousins sprint down the sideline was impressive. This kid is an athlete. It's only a shame that he's already a senior. Our linebackers and really the entire defense will be instrumental to how we fare this Saturday. That speed I just eluded to is what Carroll thinks will make it difficult for the Bruin running backs in getting to the outside. He added, however, that the Bruins have three solid running backs, none of whom have exhibited any problems moving the chains. In reviewing more of the game film, Carroll pointed out some really unique twists to our defensive formations. The most prominent of which led to the Polamalu's interception and touchdown.
On the special teams side of the ball, we all watched with glee, David Davis's touchdown. This was a slick reverse pitch, played perfectly by MacGillivray that allowed Davis to show his speed and get the score. Coach Carroll showed how SC has four formations from this play and wanted to make sure we shared that with you. Two of the formations result in pretty awesome plays. I wouldn't want to be Phil Snow in that situation. As he said, let them try to defend it, it's that special of a play. With regard to kick offs, Coach Carroll said that we will probably abandon the sky kick. He figures that everyone's seen it and Newbury's been great this week at getting the ball into the endzone. They have worked out the coverage issues that plagued them earlier in the year and feel confident in holding the Bruins to little if any gains.
Pete couldn't say enough about the play of our wide receivers from the last two weeks. Carson and Kelly have finally worked out the long ball. SC will use it more, feeling that both Kelly and Colbert match up well with the Bruin secondary. Carroll also sang the praises of D. Hale and Devin Pitts. Both players had solid games, especially over the middle where Hale seemed fearless. Of course, it takes a qb to get the ball to them and Carroll couldn't believe how well Carson was threading the needle. He showed us a handful of plays where Carson put it where only the receiver could catch it and more often than not, it was on a rope. Speaking of qbs, Coach Carroll is thrilled with the added dimension Matt Cassel brings when he's on the field. The kid is nearly 6'5" and weighs 240lbs. Add some real speed, solid hands with the ability to throw and you can all imagine the plays Chow is working up for this very special skill player. Oh yeah, the kid can lay a block too. They showed Matt working on a DB for one of SC's 55 points (I love saying that) and Cassel literally drove the kid out of the play and through the endzone, pancaking him at the end. It seems that is Matt's favorite play of his year.
I guess that sums it up. There's a magic around the program right now. Having the win against the Bears meant a lot to this team. Not because they felt Cal was going to present challenges, but more because it would have been easy for our team to let down in this contest, but we didn't. Instead, according to Carroll, the team exhibited a hunger that seems to have been building since early in the year. He wishes we had all our personnel back but feels extremely confident with the way the Trojans are playing. This man conducts a good meeting. It is no wonder the team is falling in behind him. The Trojans are on the move. This week's game might be our toughest, but I think everyone on the squad and in the stands knows we're gonna give ‘em Hell. That's what SC football is all about. Hit ‘em, and if they get up, hit ‘em again. I know I was ready to strap it on by the time Carroll wrapped things up. I can only imagine how the team is feeling right about now.
Oh, in closing, it was stressed that we need to get out to tomorrow's and, really, every SC basketball game this year. The team is going to be special, thanks to some solid incoming freshmen and superior returning upper classmen. The key for tomorrow night's game with the attendance thing is that if we can show some fan support, we have a good chance of hosting the second NIT matchup. That's a serious advantage to this squad. If we don't, however, it goes up to Fresno. So get out there tomorrow night. No excuses. Tip off is at 6pm.