MMQB recap

The MMQB luncheon was held today in Town & Gown banquet hall at USC. The room was a sell-out and spirits were very high. Most Trojans at my table were absolutely euphoric about this coming season while at the same time expressing concerns about injuries and the defense in general. As in past years, we were admonished not to repeat what the coach says at the meeting so I will be carefully avoiding direct quotes while, at the same time, passing along my impressions from the meeting.

In his opening remarks, Pete was very positive about the performance of the team so far. He talked about how we maximized the individual match-ups in the Arkansas game. Pete has a clever way of bringing up humorous illustrations about the mismatch we saw last Saturday. Almost as an obligatory point, he mentioned that Oregon would be a great challenge this week.

As in the past, the coach showed selected plays on a big screen with both press box and end zone views. One of the things I look forward to the most is his stopping the action and pointing out key blocks, fakes and shifts which made a play successful. He always begins with special teams and he showed the excellent kickoff returns by Desmond Reed. He also showed some of our kick-off coverage with a great wedge-breaking hit by Rey Maualuga. He did not show the returns where Arkansas was very successful.

To begin the defensive review, he concentrated on the interior of the line. In at least a dozen plays, he showed how successful Sedrick Ellis and LaJuan Ramsey had been. He carried this on later with examples of success on the second unit as well. Several plays were shown featuring DE's Lawrence Jackson and Frostee Rucker. Since they pick the highlight plays to show, you could get the idea that everything worked very well for us – but of coarse that would be accurate. I would have liked to see why Arkansas was able to get outside our DE's on some of their runs but there was no discussion of that issue.

We saw some very good plays by Oscar Lua and I think the coach is very pleased with his progress. The interceptions by Josh Pinkard and Kaluka Maiava brought cheers from the audience. My analysis of how the coach feels about our defense is that he sees a lot of improvement and knows that that must continue for us to be dominating by the end of the season.

The first offensive play was the Reggie Bush long TD run. Pete took some considerable time showing, from end zone perspective, how well the line blocked on that play. There was also a great block by David Kirtman and Reggie did the rest. We saw several of the successful passes and Pete explained why they had worked so well. He gave Matt Leinart compliments on looking off the Arkansas safeties several times. On two plays, the Arkansas defense had covered so well that Matt had to scramble. On both occasions, he made very athletic passes that were complete to Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.

We saw both power TD runs by LenDale White and they looked just as impressive on tape as they had in person last Saturday. In the 4th quarter, Michael Coleman got in some impressive power runs as well.

One of my favorite plays was the delay pass to David Kirtman in the flat, which he took all the way for a leaping TD. The tape clearly showed (which I missed during the game) a very good block at the 5-yard line by Patrick Turner. Another interesting play was the screen to LenDale White.

By the end of the meeting, I think we had seen almost all the highlight plays including the TD passes from Booty and McDonald.

The Question & Answer period was very informative. Only a couple of guys prefaced their questions with their own opinions. Folks at my table are very critical when people try to give us their analysis instead of asking a question. However, people are people and since it doesn't happen often, we abide it when it does. The coach was asked about injuries but gave no new information that hasn't been available on the web site. The inevitable question about recruiting was asked and he gave the only answer possible with in the NCAA rules. That was no answer other than to say that things look good for this year.

I think the most important impression I got from today was that Pete Carroll is very aware that success can lead to complacency. Twice he made points that described methods he was pursuing to avoid any let down this year. He is a driven guy in the best sort of way in that he enjoys the hard work and his enjoyment is contagious to others around him.

The meeting was adjourned around 1:20.


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