"It became real clear last night that we have finally made it to our first full normal week, that we had an opportunity to prepare with the normal lead-in. We have had so many different kinds of formats going into the games, coming out of camp, that finally the season begins with a normal feel to it. This is a normal Tuesday and I am really excited about that, just so we can get into our routine that we have found we really like to be in. Things are kind of stilted in changing from week to week. It feels good to have that thought in mind with the opportunity to come home and play our opening game here with Arkansas coming in with a really good-looking team, we know the crowd is going to be big. We get to take our young kids to the Coliseum for the first time, there are just so many positive things to be excited about and have fun with that it is great that we got here. It is interesting with all of the build-up and the hype about the season, for us at SC and the media interest in all of that which we are lucky to have. It is time for us to dig back in and settle in and do things the way we know how to do them, that is to practice really hard and to prepare with a great attitude and a real competitive sense day in and day out so that we can undertake the challenges of this season in a manner we are very comfortable with. I am fired up about it. I can't wait to see the guys today in the meetings and really take this next step. It didn't feel right yesterday. Monday was an unusual Monday for us. We normally don't get that day. But after a bye, we are ready to get cranking. Arkansas is a good-looking football team. They are really fast. They have athletes across the board. What Houston has done, by bringing coach Herring on the defensive side, has brought in a really aggressive style of play, one that challenges us. They are going to come after us a ton, and they are very good at it. He did it at NC State. Arkansas had a great defense a year ago, and they look like they haven't missed a step as he comes to a new program. They have been great the first couple of weeks out. They pose tons of challenges for us. It is going to be very difficult; but we need it difficult we need these challenges. We need this big game right now and we are looking forward to it.
On going from a wide open Hawaii game to the best rushing team in the country
"It is a big switch, a big change for us and we are really from A to Z on the spectrum. This team loves to run the football and they are great at it. All of their passing game comes off of their running and their running actions. They are dedicated with a multitude of schemes and styles of runs. Totally the opposite end of the spectrum from what we just saw. The only thing I worry about is that we spent so long getting ready for Hawaii that maybe we are not ready for the speed of the game. So with that thought we have worked against our own offense quite a bit in the off week in order to make sure that doesn't happen, but we won't really know until we get to game time."
On new defensive tackles and new linebackers
"It will pose a total different stress on our defense in the style that we will play. It will give us a better indicator than the first game didl on how we will be situated for the rest of the year. There are more teams like Arkansas that will mix there running game and their pass game than we saw in the run-and-shoot game that we saw in Hawaii. Hopefully we benefited from the Hawaii preparation, but this is really a significant step for us to take and find out where we are."
If he got the kind of growth he wanted out of the first game
"We did all right, we played a lot of guys. We played young guys in the safety spots and rotated guys through on the linebacker spots. We got a lot of play time in preparation for it, but again it is a totally different feel about playing that game. I am really not settled on where we are with that and I won't be for the next couple of weeks.
On his concern about missing tackles in the Hawaii game and what they did to fix it
"We over-ran a bunch of stuff. We were a little out of control chasing the football and the receivers kept getting out of our pursuit range a little bit. We worked on it. We continued to work on it all throughout the week and we continue to do it. It was a big problem; it was the problem in that game. We certainly stressed it in the two weeks to get ready for this game.
On what they do in practice to adjust to the speed of the game
"We have to practice our ones against ones. That is the way we do it. That is normal for us to do that. We have taken a couple more opportunities in the last couple of days of the last week and we started out again yesterday to make sure we are real competitive and we have got to get as close as we can to game speed so there is no shifting of gears that we are not prepared for. That is the way we always do it and that is the way we have done it in the past couple of days.
On Arkansas Marcus Monk
"He is really a good player. You can tell with Matt Jones last year they had a great connection. They went to him in critical situations. He came through with big catch after big catch. He is the kind of guy like we have had. He can make a catch with guys all over him. It is like the DBs aren't even on him. Down-the-field catches, short stuff with catches and runs, and down on the goal line he is very difficult. He is a really good factor in their offense and he already caught a couple of touchdowns and is getting going this year.
On playing a team from the SEC conference
"We have had really good cross country intersectional matchups the past couple of years. Auburn and Virginia Tech, this is like that kind of a match up. It brings a kind of special excitement and flavor to it that is unique. They play for their own pride in their conference. Maybe they do. It has good interest to it. It is a nice change for us in the schedule. We have really enjoyed those match ups over the past couple of years and this is another one of them. I know they will bring a lot of fans. They have a great following that will be high-spirited. That will just make it really fun at the Coliseum.
On being a member of the Arkansas coaching staff when they went 11-1 in 1977
"It was really a unique experience. I had been at the University of Pacific for my first three years coaching, I had played there, and when I had a chance to go to Arkansas for the first time I will never forget the first rally on campus. It was crazy and the energy was awesome and the band was playing and the students went nuts. It was the first sense of what big-time college football was like to be on the inside of it. That year at Arkansas was the year that really energized me about being a college coach and liking it and coaching on the big level. I really got captured by it. We had a great year and a great staff. It was huge college coaching and professional coaching.
On Robert Johnson
"He is a gifted athlete who throws the ball really well on the run. He is very accurate going both ways, and they move him all over the place. He is a big-play guy with a live arm. He runs the offense really well. He is a real threat. He is the kind of quarterback we don't like playing against because he is so mobile and adds a factor. A play can break down and he can start all over again. He is a very good player in their system. They use him well and he is on the move all the time.
On what players did well during in the bye week
"I think the linebackers Brian Cushing and (Rey) Mauluga probably got the most done during that week, I think they really showed up and played really physical in the last scrimmage. They played full speed. And I know Patrick Turner also, we got a lot of balls to him last week and just to make sure he felt comfortable with the ball coming his way like he was accustomed to when he was in high school. He had a good week as well. I think those guys probably made the most headway.
On the over-pursuit and conduct penalties in the Hawaii game
"We spent a lot of time getting pumped up for that first game. There is no doubt we had plenty of energy. The staff did a great job getting everybody pumped up. We have to handle that mentality. No matter what you do in practice, it doesn't feel like that. Maybe the first time, being that juiced up, ready to go out and explode and have a big game, did get the better of us a little bit. It was a great gift for us that we were able to win a game and have many experiences that we were able to learn from. In the course of the game, we learned. It didn't take us somewhere down the road to get it. During the course of the game there were enough teachable moments that we were able to capture them. The guys were able to settle down and played really well after that.
If anything will change in preparing this week
"No, we are going for it. We are going to do it again. They have got to learn how to figure it out and handle it. It was too much fun. They had too much fun getting ready.
On how Reggie Bush has changed
"He is maturing. He dedicated himself in the offseason, physically and also mentally. He is ready to go. He is a growing competitor. He is growing in ways that great players grow. He is applying himself in the manner that great players apply themselves. It is extremely important that he put his best game out there every time he goes and he practices really well everyday, and he is focused and tuned in. That kind of will and determination takes guys out of the crowd of excellent players. Reggie is on that course. He is finding out what it is like to live with the expectations of playing on a really high level every time you go. It is exciting to be around it and his players made him a captain because they can feel him and they love being a part of what he is all about. That is leadership. It has really been cool to see it happen. He is still growing, he has a lot of maturing still to come and he is going to be a great, great player."
If Darnell Bing can not play will Josh Pinkard be ready
"We are ready to go with Josh. He had an excellent game in the first game. He might have played the best of all the safeties in the first game. He has had two weeks of work here to get ready so he will be ready to go. I am really confident in him and I am excited about what Josh brings. He is a very fast aggressive football player that make things happen. He made a great tackle in the Hawaii game and some other really big tackles. He had made a big statement that he is ready to fill in for us. If that is the case, he is going to play anyway and if it is the case that Darnell cant go then we will be kind of pumped up to see what he can bring. He can play both (strong and free). We have prepared him to play both.
On the Coliseum and the disrespect other programs are said to have for it
"I don't know about that respect thing since, somebody is willing to put up $500 million dollars to redo it. It is an old stadium. It has been there for a long time, but if they are going to put that much money into it then somebody loves it pretty good. It is a great place to play for us. Any program that is trying to put themselves on the map has to be successful at home. You have to find a way to find a feeling about what it means to play at home. We set out our goals a long time ago that we were going to have to dominate at home if we were ever going to be a championship team. It has been a beautiful thing to go there and play. Our players love it; the fans have turned out in record numbers. It has obviously been difficult on our opponents, the reason why I don't know. But it doesn't matter. That is the way it is going. We go into this first week with a chance to recapture what it is to play there and to play at a high level. It is extremely important to us. We need to connect with our fans by the way we play. If fans are not having a good time at the game then we aren't playing well. It doesn't matter what level you are on, that is kind of the way it works out. We need to really bring it when we get to the Coliseum. We will lead in with all the lead in and excitement that we can and make it an exciting event. It has great history to it. When we walk in through the peristyle end and we stop up there in the Trojan walk, it is emotional. It is a significant moment for us as a football program and for the coaches. We hold them up there for a few seconds just to savor what we are about to be a part of. I don't ever want us to miss that feeling it is a part of this game. It is what makes this game so special and so unique that you get to have those kind of emotional moments when you play. We certainly have a beautiful place to do it.
On spreading the ball around to all the players, and positions, if it is tougher
"No, I don't understand why people think that is a bad thing and that it is tougher. It is awesome. How much more could you want? We have many guys that we can get the ball to. That is all anybody could ever hope for. So if a player is fretting that or it is tough or difficult or they don't look forward to handling it, I think it is the perfect situation. I am not worried one bit. I hope our guys are frustrated by it. I hope they want the ball more. I hope they are chomping at the bit to get another shot at it. That brings the right kind of mentality. That is what we are looking for. I don't even know how to allude to anything that is not positive about it. It is a great situation and hopefully we can continue to position guys in those spots too. Matt is the lucky one, he gets to sit in the middle of this thing and give the ball to all these guys. You aren't hearing him complain. He has a great situation. This is an awesome opportunity for us to make a really effective offense work and go and stress out our opponent. Hopefully we are able to do that. You are only as good as the next time out. So we need to go and do it again. The good thing is that has been proven you don't know who is going to be the featured guy. Sometimes we don't know either. We have a plan and we go play the game and see how things go. We go with what is working for us. You likely could see LenDale (White) get the ball 20 times this game. That could happen. Or we will go to Steve Smith 10 times this game or Dominique (Byrd) this game. It depends on how we are playing and how our opponent decides they need to stop us. I think Sark has done a marvelous job of giving us the options with all of the different tools so we can go to them when the different opportunities come available."
On Patrick Turner
He is physically capable of being a great asset. We just didn't get him the ball. We tried a couple of times in the first game, William Buchanon too. Buchanon didn't get the ball in the first game, but he is going to get the ball, too. He has a real aspect that he brings to us that is real special. These guys are ready to go. They both could have breakout days for us if things go well for their position. It just depends.
"Started off good, and last week was the toughest loss since we have been here. It was a game we fully expected to win and had our chances so many times. Now we are trying to put that behind us and go play the best team in America."
On the team's state of mind over the past few days
"We worked out Sunday. It was disappointing, we were down. Monday is our off day so this will be the first time I have seen them since Monday."
On their offense
"We have a one-year older offensive line than last year. It may not be the biggest in SCC standards, but they are pretty athletic. They play hard and have a lot of character. They are very committed and do a good job. Brandon Kennedy is a senior fullback along with De'Arrius Howard. They are our two seniors. In the backfield that gives us some leadership. We have some fast backs with Darren McFadden, and Felix Jones, and Peyton Hills is kind of a do-it-all fullback/ halfback/ tailback a little bit of a mixture of a lot of things. Then we have first-year starter quarter back Robert Johnson. I have been really proud of the way he has played the last two games. Marcus Monk is a big tall receiver who gives us a chance out there on the perimeter, along with Cedric Washington, Cedric Logan, and Dedrick Pool. We have a team that has a lot of promise and hope. We are improving in a lot of areas. We need to make first downs, we have to make them and we need to score. We have always been a great red zone team. That is probably the most disappointing thing last week is we didn't score from the 1-yard line."
On the loss of Matt Jones and how it affected the offense
"If you know Matt and you watched last year, Matt was a guy that we would put the ball in his hands 25 to 30 times and maybe 15 to 20 of those times would be an option. We still run the option; we still use it but probably not as much. Matt did the midline option, the speed option and the shotgun radar option. He did all three. Robert is at the stage for about two of the three. Matt was more of a bootleg, get him out on the perimeter and he can take off running. That is what gave defensive coordinators so many problems because he could take off running."
On the defense and how they have played so far
"We have done some things better, but we still need to make some plays, We have been in the right spot, but we can't get the ball knocked down or make the interception when we needed to last weekend. I know we are tackling much better. I know our guys believe in what we are doing. It is tough to swallow when we don't win. Senior leadership with Vickiel Vaughn, safety; Pierre Brown, linebacker, Marcus Harrison up front line with Anthony Brown, a guy who has made the switch from a receiver to defensive end; Desmond Sims who was a linebacker last year and moved in to defensive end. We have made a few changes, but they are improving and I am real proud of them. The heart of defense is Sam Olajubutu. He has made nine or 10 tackles a game he plays hard and I love his effort.
Impressions of USC
"I don't see any weaknesses. I see an unbelievably explosive team on offense that can make it happen anywhere on the field. If you notice every time you turn on film there aren't many third and longs because they are always making first downs. It starts with the trigger man, Matt Leinart. I guess that is why he is the Heisman Trophy winner, he is a big time quarter back, with a tremendous touch on the deep ball, great accuracy and he has an unbelievable load of weapons. Reggie Bush, big receivers, big tight ends, I think this is one of the most athletic offensive lines we will face this year. Defensively it's same thing, they do a pro-style defense with fire zones and different blitzes they run so well. The safeties are big, good hitters and secure tacklers. They are strong in the middle and strong up front. There is very little weakness in this team."
On how to stop Reggie Bush
"That is a great question, because I don't think anybody has. Every time you turn on film, I just don't see how. I think he is going to get his. You just hope they are not all 86-yard runs or 90-yard runs where he hits the home run every time. You have got to take great angles and gang tackle. That is easier said than done. That is a good question because nobody has done it."
On how Hawaii punted the ball out of bounds every time Reggie Bush was in the back, if Arkansas is planning on doing the same thing
"Yes, probably so. We want to keep it away from him as much as we can."
On the pride of the SEC conference and playing a West Coast team
"Our guys are looking forward to it, and we have an awesome respect for Southern Cal and what Coach Carroll has done, who I know personally. The job he has done has been outstanding. This has been one of the most talked-about games here in Arkansas over the summer. Everybody wants to talk about the Southern Cal game. This is a big time challenge to play one of the best teams. The thing about our conference is I feel like we play a high caliber schedule each week. Each week is very tough. I am not saying each week is Southern Cal, but it is right there close to it. If you look at the Floridas and the Georgias, the Alabamas. There are no off Saturdays."