We are pumped-up about it being Pac-10 time. The first three games of our schedule were challenging for us and we had a lot to get accomplished before getting to this point. We are pleased that we have made it here in pretty good shape physically. We have had the opportunity to play a lot of guys and get some people ready to go. The focus of our program is about winning the Pac-10. Our thought is that if we do well in the Pac-10 and take care of business then we'll have the chance to be at the top of the conference.
Stanford has been playing really good football. They have been terrific. In their first two games they've played complete games and their offense and defense have been very productive. They are loaded with skill people. The same players we saw a year ago are maturing and playing more physical and more confident. They are just playing good ball. With Stanford being 2-0 and us being 3-0, it is just a great opener for conference play. We are really looking forward to it.
Re: Stanford Quarterback Trent Edwards
Trent Edwards is a good football player. We know him well. We watched him grow up in his high school days. We've had him in camps and know about him. He is experienced now, to the point where he can really carry a game. He is very well skilled throwing the ball. He runs well. He knows what they are doing offensively. He is in good command of what they are trying to get done. He's got guys all around him that are capable of making plays so they have a very good-looking offense.
Re: Stanford's Defense
They have changed their scheme a little bit. They've adjusted. What I like about them is that they had really good-looking skill guys back from last year and they have added a 3-4 system. The backers are fast and flying around. The safeties are good. The corners are big, good-sized guys. We think that the whole group is really good. They played the run exceedingly well in the first two games so the whole group runs really well and looks very good.
Re: Has USC exceeded expectations?
I'm pretty pleased right now. The progress of the offensive line is obvious and that was a big issue coming into camp. To make it through this past game, we had to have come a long way. I am pleased with that but we still have a lot of improvement to go. We are still working with rotating guys to get playing time, in order to develop depth and continue the competition. The receiving group has made improvements and they are showing more consistency in weeks two and three. I still think we have a lot of improvement we can make there. Those are the points of biggest concern and we are feeling pretty good about it right now. There are still some concerns about us kicking the ball and we are looking forward to some improvement.
Re: Interesting Stanford match-ups
It is going to come down to us running the football so the best match-ups will be the runningbacks and watching them make the plays that they make. We are going to get opportunities for both Reggie Bush and LenDale White that we've had, and they are going to have to make the plays, break tackles and make guys miss. Stanford has a stiff enough defense that they are not going to give you big plays play-after-play-after-play. We're going to have to be patient and go after opportunities when we have them. We'll look for our runningbacks, when they get their space, to make something happen.
Re: Receivers and Corners
The match-ups are in their favor size-wise. They have big players and I think (Stanford flanker) Evan Moore has really shown to be a big factor for them. He is a big stud out there catching the ball. He is the kind of receiver who does not have to have a lot of space to make big plays. He will take the ball away from you and he has already shown that. He has had some marvelous catches in the first two games. That is a match-up that we're concerned about and we hope our guys can hang in there.
Re: Cornerback Eric
He is going to play a lot. He played a lot in the game last week. He's been one of the guys who has been a work in progress. I'm hoping we can make sure that he is comfortable and not ask too much of him yet. All of our young guys have some limitations so we have to keep waiting it out and keep bringing them along. I don't want to have to play Eric on a full-time, regular basis yet, but I would love to see him play a good half of a game for us this week.
We're better than we've been. I think we're playing real, solid football. We gave up only one play last week that I was really disappointed in, but other than that we kept guys in front of us real well and we turned the ball over enough with the play of our linebackers underneath. I think we are playing solid. It could be a strength of ours as we go through the schedule. We are always going to see a lot of passing teams and we are going to get a lot of numbers thrown at us, but I like what is happening so far and I like that we have a lot of guys that have participated.
Re: Placekicker Ryan
He has had different misses so they have not been for the same reasons. I looked at the kicks and he was perfect on his PATs. The ball was right down the middle and the timing was beautiful. His kick-offs were great, but for whatever reason the two placements that he had this week just didn't hit it. He kind of second-guessed the placement on the second kick and hesitated just for an instant and it threw him off. The first kick, he kicked well but he just pushed it a little bit. We have to get more consistency for sure because we are going to need those kicks to win, for sure, down the road. We're concerned about it but he will get it together.
Re: Stanford versus BYU, in comparison to USC versus BYU
It helps us become a little more familiar. Particularly I watch both sides of the ball so I've already seen the whole team going into the week. All of our coaches are more familiar with the film; unfortunately we only have two games that they've played. We know those games really well and it's nice to be more familiar with the film. As we go through the conference we will get to see games that will all make sense to us. It is fun because you have more depth and more background then if you are playing a new opponent.
Re: Stanford Secondary
They will be tough. They are very disciplined group and very skilled technique-wise. This is clearly the best group we've seen. It is the best system and the best organized. They don't give you stuff. Two of the three teams we've faced now have come after us and totally challenged the passing game so we know what to expect. This is a very well grouped secondary and I really like the way they play technique-wise. They are different than the teams we've played.
Re: Thoughts about going home (to NorCal)
I always like going back to Northern California. A lot of my friends can come to this game so it is always fun to go back there. I used to go to Stanford games when I was a kid. It's fun being back there.
Re: What surprises do you expect?
One of the great things about our team is that you never know who is going to surprise you. You can always count on something good happening, but you don't always know where it's going to come from. Just going back to the first few games where Reggie Bush had a great first game, LenDale White really stood out in the second, and they kind of shared the spotlight in the third. I'm not looking to do that, but we just kind of wait and see what happens each week. We talk that way as it gets later in the week. We get excited to see who is going to jump out and make the most of the opportunity.
Re: Freshman Performance
It's different cases for different guys. I thought Scott Ware had a very solid game, but just didn't have that many opportunities. Jeff Schweiger was not quite as active as he's been. I thought BYU's offensive line did a nice job on our guys and our four-man rush. They were very good individually and they handled our guys pretty well. I thought Dwayne Jarrett made some big plays. He lost a ball in the lights on the fade route that made him look bad on that play, but he made some other really good plays in this game and came through on that touchdown pass. He feels much more confident than he has in other games and I think we are starting to see him come along. He just looks more sure of himself and did so in practice yesterday. Those were the young guys that were of note in the game.
Re: The team's fourth-quarter efforts
I think throughout the last couple of years we've seen our teams play very well in the fourth quarter. I think it certainly has to do with the effort of (Strength coach) Chris Carlisle and what we do in the off-season. We are a well-conditioned football team that plays very well in the finish. It is also a huge battle cry for us. How we finish is something we take a lot of pride in, whether it is in a game or in a season. I'm really looking forward to seeing that show up in this football team time and time again. It is a very special characteristic of our program.
Re: Strength of Schedule
I think every one of these games is going to be extremely difficult and a great challenge for us. The teams we play from this point on know us really well. The will have improved a lot in the off-season and we expect great challenges from them. I could care less about the aspect of making a statement in each game. Right now it's about wining each game in the Pac-10 and seeing how far we can take this. I'm thrilled that the aspect of margin of victory and who you play is no longer supposed to be a factor as much as it used to be.
We just keep moving week-to-week with him. He continues to feel a little bit better. He's closer to being ready to go out and throwing the ball, but that's improvement relative to being in pretty bad shape because he still could not throw as of yesterday. We still have more time than normal to check him out and see how he is.
Re: Strength of the Pac-10
I think the offenses in this conference are really well skilled and well designed. I've said that before but now it is starting to show. We have a lot of firepower. For Arizona State to go against a really tough Iowa team and really tear it up with huge numbers... Cal also has put up some big numbers... there are a lot of stats flying right now and it proves this. I think our willingness to throw the football as much as we do with great design and concepts; I think it separates us from the rest. As the schedule wears on, we'll see how it plays out. I know that the people that are playing us are staying up late at night to try and figure it all out.
Re: Pac-10 versus other conferences
I don't know too much about other conferences, I just know about ours. I know about ours and I think we're on the leading edge in style of offense and the things that we are asking our guys to do. It makes it very difficult on opponents. I don't think it is just the Pac-10, I think it is schools in the West. Utah does a fantastic job of moving the football. Boise State has a fantastic offense. I think there are some really big-time offenses out here. We are different than other schools around the country.