The mood is upbeat and very optimistic. I looked for signs of overconfidence in our supporters and in how Pete presented his report. "Confident" yes, but "over-confident" was not visible to this observer. Pete is a superb presenter in the MMQB forum. It is not just that he is affable but he has the huge advantage of knowing the answers we are so hungry to hear.
One disclaimer needs to be made for those who have not read my MMQB reports in previous years. Pete has asked not to be directly quoted so that he can be completely frank with those who attend. I will continue to honor his request this year and will provide my impressions and paraphrase PC rather than report direct quotes.
He did start the report with a review of the game with Virginia Tech. My impression of his evaluation of our performance is that it was a good first game effort in an environment that tested our players a lot. He reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of our performance and I would judge that he feels very good about winning that game.
Coach Carroll then turned to last Saturday's game against CSU. For that game he brought a highlight tape of plays, which he reviewed, in detail. First he shows the play from the press box angle and then from the end zone angle. He repeats each play several times calling attention to the blocking and other reasons why it worked or didn't work. Let me just say that in the CSU game there was very little that didn't work so we were treated to a clinic in successful execution of Trojan football.
We went through Special team plays first and Pete particularly complimented the Kickoff coverage team showing our players tackling the CSU return man short of the 20-yard line. He also showed our one kickoff return play and the absolutely mammoth running lane opened up for Reggie Bush. The block by Grootegoed on that return was a thing of beauty.
Next we had plays from the offense. Thinking back, the whole game was like a highlight reel. Pete picked only about 15 offensive plays to show. At least 20 players were mentioned with high praise. He saves the defensive gems for last because he obviously likes them best. I'm sure you all know the great defensive plays from last Saturday. I can report that we saw them and Pete explained why they worked so well for us. It is really not accurate for me to give an impression that Pete was higher on any one player but I can give my own impression. The defensive plays made by Manuel Wright impressed me the most. Dominant is too subdued a word to describe how he played against CSU.
There wasn't much negative to talk about, but the coach did introduce a new term (I think it was LOFA) that the staff uses on plays where they feel there was a "lack of effort" on the part of a particular player. Apparently he makes a point of calling that to the attention of the team when they review the tape together. He showed us a couple of such plays and I can see why he is getting such a high level of performance. I'd sure hate to have my performance exposed to my teammates as an example of "lack of effort".
The question and answer period was long and complete. Pete Carroll answers questions in a direct authoritative way that leaves you feeling satisfied that you know the truth. There was one question asked that was out of bounds. He was asked if he could explain how we would adjust to BYU's unorthodox defensive alignment? He said, "no" and a lot of us laughed because we knew that BYU would love to have that answer also. In another answer he expressed unhappiness with the inability of the NCAA to clear Herrring and Germany to play this year.
Most of the questions were about particular players. Pete answers very completely and gives reasons why certain decisions are made. Please refer to my disclaimer at the beginning for why I'm not giving more detail about what was said.
I can paraphrase one extended answer to a question about Tom Malone. He told us about coach Frank Beamer watching Malone warm up before the Virginia Tech game. Malone was sending balls not just out of the end zone but way back up into the seats. Apparently Beamer, somewhat in awe, was throwing grass into the air trying to figure out if they were aided by the wind.
The coach also shared with us that Norm Chow is helping prepare for what to expect at BYU with some rather colorful descriptive terms. It's all good fun and those in attendance had an enjoyable time. The next meeting will be next Monday and those new to MMQB are well advised to be at Town and Gown by 11:30 AM.