MMQB recap

Pete Carroll arrived at the MMQB lunch to a standing ovation once again. He was full of jokes and appeared to be in very good humor. He made it a point to thank those who participated in the Trojan Walk before each home game and referred to the coming 3 games as the 4th quarter of the season. He reminded everyone how much importance he puts on excellent plan in the 4th quarter. I would say that Pete feels that the Trojan Walk is an important part of game preparation for the team.

Pete looked back on what he referred to as good play during the last three games. His opening remarks reminded me of his approach in the week before the Notre Dame game in so far as he spent more time talking about the upcoming game with Cal than he did the victory over Stanford. When he did talk about our last game he pointed out that we had made 84 attempts to cause turnovers in that game.

We began the review of taped plays fom the Stanford game with two kickoffs. On one he pointed out the outstanding tackle by Kaluka Maiava and the great collision by Rashaad Goodrum – which got an ovation. On the second kickoff shown, a great hit was reviewed by Ryan Powdrell. We also looked at the 48-yard punt by Tom Malone and the good coverage by the punt team.

We looked at several defensive plays. As always, Pete shows the plays several times from both the press box view and the end zone view. The first was the heads up recovery by Justin Wyatt of the backward pass. Apparently the Pac 10 officials are beginning to look for this possibility in games. Next was excellent coverage by Brian Cushing that resulted in a tipped ball and interception by Thomas Williams.

Several plays were reviewed showing tackles for a loss behind the line of scrimmage. Those included tackles by Darnell Bing, Kaluka Maiava and Frostee Rucker. We spent the most time on the fumble recovered by Frostee that he then fumbled. Josh Pinkard picked it up and ran through a maze of Stanford players and almost scored. We looked at it so many times because there were at least 5 textbook blocks thrown by Trojans to help Josh. IMO, the most spectacular was the last one by Thomas Williams which decleated a potential tackler.

Also of interest was the new 3 man front defense that we have been using for just a couple of games. It was in that formation that Lawrence Jackson put on that great display of rushing the QB. It was one of the most impressive displays of physical domination I've ever seen and the only time I can remember a coach taking an OL out of the game in, what I viewed as an admission that he could not contain Lawrence. Jackson was credited with one sack on the series.

We went through several plays where our defense was in a goal line package. We did a great job on each play and the one time they lined up in the shotgun, a TD saving tackle was made by Thomas Williams. A couple of plays were shown from late in the game where the "young pups" were in every DL and LB position. I think Pete is very proud of the new group coming along. Pete spent some time complementing the interception by William Buchanon. On that play, Cushing was in on a blitz, rushed the throw and William made a very athletic play that Pete referred to as cradling the ball. Someone in the front made a spontaneous remark, which we could not hear very well, using the word cuddle instead of cradle. To which Pete responded that there was no cuddling in Football – which brought the house down with laughter.

The offensive plays were like the normal highlight for an entire year. Pete began with a run by Reggie where Fred Davis made the key block. Then Matt's long sideline pass completion to Dwayne Jarrett. Then a big run by LenDale White with a key block by Lutui and finally the 2-yard TD by LenDale. What's interesting is that these were part of the scripted plays that we use to begin each game.

Reggie's long TD run of 42 yards was reviewed several times. There were several good blocks with the best, IMO, coming from Chris McFoy who sustained it down field for a very long time. We looked at multiple power runs by both LenDale and Reggie. Sometimes the blocking was great on the right side and other times on the left. Every OL starter got at least one great call for blocking in this series.

One great pass was the delay to LenDale in the left flat that he took downfield running through arm tackles and into the end zone for a TD. Now that we are such a good running team, Matt seems to be using play-action and then a bootleg with great results. We saw some last week and this week we saw the completion to McFoy come off this bootleg series. We also saw the run by LenDale where he reversed field and Matt blocked for him. Hey, Matt gave it a good try which we all applauded.

We looked at a slant and go completion from Matt to Steve Smith as well as a couple of other completions to Steve. We also looked at the TD pass to Jimmy Miller who was so wide open. I bet every future opponent will now have to practice against this play.

We looked at several completions from John David Booty. A couple to Patrick Turner, one to Steve Smith, and another to Chris McFoy. We also saw the TD run by Brandon Hancock.

Pete selected a couple of plays by walk-ons to complete the tape-session. The first was the kickoff return by Jim Abbott where he was told to run it out no matter how deep in the end zone it was. The second was a late-game tackle by DE Jeff Tola. Obviously Pete loves to reward these guys with playing time and is proud of the high level at which they perform.

The Question & Answer period followed. For those who don't already know the rules, I cannot quote Pete's answers so this part of the report is a little difficult to write. You can get a flavor of what was discussed by the questions asked.

Pete was asked about the first, short kickoff and what the strategy behind it was. In general terms we are just trying to exploit what appear to be weaknesses with these kicks. A question was asked about our alternatives if certain juniors declare for the Pro draft and Pete described the support system in place for them to make informed decisions. Next Pete was asked about our vulnerability to QB's that can run up the middle and he explained the two ways to defense this situation.

The recurring questions about injuries was asked. I gather from Pete's answer the we have relatively good news on Oscar and that others are getting better with decisions on whether to play to be made later in the week. A question was asked about the improvement of Fred Davis and Pete explained about the excellent progress Fred has made. Then a question about scripting the first 15 plays and Pete explained why we do this and that down-and-distance sometimes requires a change.

A reference was made to our success in stripping the ball followed by a question about how we teach tackling at the same time. Pete went through a rather complete description of how we teach this without jeopardizing our ability to tackle at the same time. Apparently Wednesdays are "turnover days" when we spend a great deal of time working on this part of the game.

Another question was asked about kickoff strategy and finally the last question about our strategy for Cal. Pete's quite serious about being ready for this year's Cal team and not being distracted by what they could do previously.

The meeting was adjourned.


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