USC Head Coach Pete Carroll
We are ready to go this week for another Northwest trip. Hopefully the weather we saw last week was enough to give us a good introduction of what we may be up against this week again. I was really excited about the way our team responded to the situation and the environment last week. Once again, we saw our guys get into a new situation, a new adventure. The hail and the sleet got them excited about the opportunity for a new challenge.
We feel good about heading into Oregon State. I know that their team is all cranked up. They have really turned their season in a great direction with three wins in a row since their bye. It sounds like the leadership of their football team is pumped up about the opportunity and challenge of playing us. We, likewise, are as well. We have to make the most of this opportunity and see if we can grab one more game and get home to finish the rest of the season. We are really looking forward to it and can't wait to get it going.
Re: Concern regarding the back-up QB situation?
I think we have to worry about the coaches that put (Matt Cassel) into the game. Imagine that we warmed up for the game probably three hours before he went into the game. Quarterbacks don't do a lot of running during the game so it's tough to stay warm. Other than going on and off the field, (Matt Cassel) didn't get a lot of exercise and I can see why he had some problems. In the same situation the next time around, he won't just be standing next to the heaters. We'll have him running around, on the bike and doing a lot of throwing. I'm not worried about the situation at all. We had a little bit of difficulty and we had to get back on track so we put (Matt Leinart) back in the game for a little while. We were just going to run the football and we needed to do that at the time.
Re: TB Reggie
Bush's success running between the tackles against WSU
We did run the ball downhill a little bit more in this game. It was by design and what we had planned on doing. I felt better about our run game. I felt better about the aggressiveness at the line of scrimmage. That's why you saw that. We called some more things to just get the ball running downfield. It was a little bit more about the field and being concerned about being out on the perimeter and slipping. Had Reggie Bush not had that long run called back, he would have had a really big game for us.
Re: Surprised at the team's response to the weather?
I was a little surprised. When it started hailing and they all started yelling and screaming and doing the rain dance, I was a little surprised. I was really jacked up because of the energy they had to meet the challenge. They were like a bunch of kids out there and they were fueled by the crowd. The crowd thought that we ere going to fold up and go in at that point, but we did the opposite. It was a real key moment in getting ready for that game. It's not like our guys weren't cold, it was that they played anyway. We'll be a little thin-skinned this week after the weather we've been having. It's been 70's and 80's all week. But they know what it's like now and the experience was really valuable for them.
Re: Night Games
I think it's fun and I think the players think it's fun. There is an energy about it when you are playing at nighttime. It's also a situation when you know you are not going to be fatigued in the game and that's not even in question. You feel real good about the physical side of it. It's good that we're doing it because we need to feel comfortable in the situation as we finish off the season. I don't think it matters much, but I do know that when you get out there in the evenings, you do feel a little more energized.
Re: Affects on the Game Day Schedule
No, not really. We just shut down for those early hours and once the regular hour format kicks in, then we get back to it. You just almost pretend like that extra time in the day doesn't even exist. We crank it up when the time starts rolling.
Re: USC Defense
This is the best we have been executing since the Cal game. We did a lot of really good things in that game and it set us in motion. Our focus has been the best it's been since we've been here. We're most productive and most consistent at the line of scrimmage. We had good rush numbers last year, but we have had to regain those numbers by really playing well the last few weeks. You are seeing the result of guys that have been playing together for a really long time. They understand our system and they know what we are doing. They are able to play real fast and they are excited to keep this going. They want to keep the momentum going. Fortunately we have had pretty good health and good continuity.
Re: Anything in particular that made it possible to get the defense all at
the same speed?
I just think that it was the sequence of the challenges that they faced early in the year. It's the build-up as we get in the heart of the conference schedule. It's like a veteran group... the better the challenge the more they like it and the more excited they get about it. As the conference schedule starts to kick in, we seemed to take another step forward. We are pretty comfortable with our rotations now and how guys are playing. It's just coming together, but we have a long stretch to keep it going.
Re: Injury update on LG John
Drake and CB Ronald
Both guys are hobbling. I don't have the final word on John Drake as we start this week. He had his MRI late yesterday but I don't know the results of that yet. We probably won't know for sure until Thursday whether Drake is out. We'll wait and see. (Backup) Jeff Byers is ready to go and he had a very good game last week. He'll make the most of his opportunity if he's called on to start on Saturday. Both Drew Radovich and Kyle Williams also showed us that our back-up guys are ready to contribute in a first-string manner.
Re: Oregon State being the only school you have not coached at...
It does present new challenges, just because we have not been there before. We take these one step at a time. We had not won at Washington State so it was important for us to go there last week and succeed in that environment. I know it will be a good crowd and a different kind of turf this week. We are accustomed to the format of the trip, but you don't know something until you go do it. That will be part of this week's conversation.
Re: Flattered by the Heisman hype for two players?
We respect the attention, but really that is all it is right now. It is wonderful that they recognize our players and really I think it is because of our team, as well as the players themselves. It is so early in that whole chase that it is too early to really get involved in it. But we do respect and appreciate the attention and the focus. We respect that we've been recognized and I say that because it is our football team that puts us in that situation. If those guys have a chance to finish high in the balloting, then it will be really exciting and rewarding. Just to be considered is obviously an honor. But we are not focused on it because it has a lot to do with where you're at, at the end of the season.
Leinart's efficiency against Washington State
I thought it was awesome... he was 18-for-20 at one point in the first half. Those are fantastic numbers for us, especially considering that the ball was wet and everything else that came with that. He looked so comfortable in the game. The touch that he put on all of the throwing opportunities that we gave him was right on the money. It showed that he was really on the mark and that he had responded after being disappointed with his performance the week before. He showed he could come back and improve his play.
Re: OSU's QB Derek Anderson
He's a big-time quarterback... there's no question. Seems like he has been doing it forever. Seems like he's a long-time veteran in this conference. He's a big, good-looking kid. They throw an offense that asks him to throw the ball down the field and use his arm and he has been able to do it. He is very comfortable and experienced. He makes a lot of big throws. He's having a fantastic college career. He is going to be a great NFL prospect and he is just what the guys are looking for. He has had great success against us too and we are concerned about that. He had a huge game against us last year and we know that they can put up a bunch of numbers. We know that we will have to play really well to keep him down.
Re: OSU Secondary
Just look at their completion percentage numbers. Since we've been here, they have held us at 40 or 41-percent completion against their secondary. Those are ridiculous numbers. You can't find that anywhere, but it's just what they do... it's their style. Brandon Browner and Aric Williams... those guys can play. They do pose great problems for us. They are big safeties and they make plays all over the field. It is a very difficult test and it always has been.
Re: Keeping the focus
Our mentality has been that it is okay to be in this situation. It's what we expect and it's where we set our standards. We want it to be normal for us to have this type of attention. We try to maintain that mentality and not get all hyped up about what is coming a month down the road... some match-up or traditional rivalry. Each game is a championship game and we have to play it and address it accordingly. You can't put your focus or your attention somewhere else. I think it's rare when you see our guys talking about that stuff. You don't hear that from me. It means nothing what the BCS has to say about our season unless we win this week. I think we're pretty clear about that. You always have to focus on your themes and pay great attention each day. We practice with great focus each day and we try and take care of business on a daily basis. We are really not that concerned about that as long as we work real hard. These guys understand that to get caught up in the hype would not be okay.