"This was a night for champions. It was a championship night in all ways. Two teams went out battling the whole time to the final second in great fashion, honorable fashion. And Texas did a great job. They did a wonderful job all night long. We had to keep outscoring them and we weren't able to.
And Mack Brown and his whole staff, and the whole program, they were great champions tonight. And if you have to hand it over, step aside for somebody, that's a heck of a team to do that to. I'm very, very proud of this football program, this team, the players that have led this team over the last few years, and we walk out of the Rose Bowl tonight very disappointed. We had a real chance to win again. Make a 4th down and we win. But on this night it's Texas' night. They deserved it. They earned it. It was a heck of a football game.
Vince Young was extraordinary. He was an extraordinary talent out there tonight. It was obviously the difference in the football game. It was obvious why they were so affected this year. Good players all over the board, but he's off the charts. He's a heck of a football player.
Q. On the 4th down, late in the game, what was the thinking instead of punting it or going for it?
COACH PETE CARROLL: 1st down the game is over basically, rather than we just seen them what they had done the series before and it didn't really matter where they were going to start in that regard if we had a chance to make that 1st you don't, that's where we win the football game, that moment flashes by in the instant and that's our moment to seal the win. It was a night we had to do it on offense and we weren't able to and we had our chance to stop it and couldn't do it on defense.
Q. Best performance you've seen by an individual against you?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Yes, without question, that was the best by one guy and a team, I won't take away from the Texas football team, it's an extraordinary football player.
Q. You've had the great success, 34 in a row, and obviously it has to come to an end eventually. Talk about your feelings right now, the disappointment that obviously you must have.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Of course I have. It hasn't hit me yet, to tell you the truth. This has been about excellence all throughout the year. It's not about walking. It's the level you perform week in and week out, and the stats you hold yourself to and we did that tonight. I have no problem with what happened tonight. Of course our football team battled like we always do. We didn't think -- we thought there was a second on the clock to kick the field goal, that's what we were thinking. We would have done it. It's a very rare opportunity that we dealt with here. I loved every minute of it. It was so much fun to do something that hasn't been done before and work at it. The challenge now is to show who we really are, come back and get going again. It's pretty hard to describe what the feeling is like.
One of the thoughts I had all along, who is going to get it. They took it. I won't take anything away from them. This was an excellent football team we played, they had a great team and great stats, and coaching staff and the whole thing. They are a worthy team. It makes me feel a little differently than if we lost to somebody we shouldn't. It was that kind of night. If we had the ball again we would have got back in it again.
Q. You really went with the blitz on the last series almost every play, it looked like you were going to try to put it in your hands and force the action a little bit that way?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Yes, just basically when faced with an opportunity, I have been in these situations before, and it's how you want to dish it out in that situation, how you want to deal with it after. The last thing I want to do is sit back and see what happens. I want to get it and make opportunities. We were trying to fill up the rest of it so that he couldn't escape. He could any time he wanted to earlier in the night, so I thought the best chance was to get that done.
Q. Pete, what can anybody do to stop anybody with that kind of talent?
COACH PETE CARROLL: It's very difficult. I'm on the record telling you guys how hard it is to stop the quarterback. He is a difficult quarterback to face, because he's so fast. It's not that he's scrambling. He's a fast guy and he's big. He probably made us miss a dozen passes tonight and we slipped right off the guy. He threw the ball quite well again. A great 1st half. I don't know what his numbers were the 2nd half. A great 1st half. He took what we gave him. He is a heck of a football player.
Q. In all the situations you've been in, have you ever been in a situation where you felt you couldn't stop a guy if you had to go 80 plus yards to stop?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I played with Dan Marino for years. I felt that way a lot of times. Q. Why the decision to go for it on 4th and 2 in that situation? And take me through the play, what you saw.
COACH PETE CARROLL: For us at the time, it was the right thing to do. We would have won the game right there. We had a chance to win the game and go for it. You make that 1st down and you win the football game. You're going to have to stop it anyway. How far you're going to kick it right there, kick a 20-yard punt, it's not even close. The decision, in my opinion, in our way of thinking, you're going for it all the time.
Q. Can you talk about the frustration as a defensive coordinator in that situation trying to stop an offense?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Unfortunately we've won and lost them over the years. I've been in this situation a lot, where it's coming down to the last drive. So it's extremely frustrating, in particular when you know what the problem is. We tried to get after him, even when we looked like we were going to sack him.
If you go back, I'm not sure if -- we had a shot to turn the ball over, and they knocked the ball away from us. But that was our chance to win the football game right there. We were just looking for one more, we couldn't find it. He was too good.
Q. What kind of adjustments did you make at halftime that you were able to get the ball in the end zone and put up some more points?
COACH PETE CARROLL: That's just the way we play really. It's the stuff that we do always. We did some things differently in the 2nd half, it worked out okay for the most part, but when they just got back, his factor of running made a big difference.
Q. I meant you offensively?
COACH PETE CARROLL: We knew we could run the football. We blew a couple of opportunities going down the field, we gave the ball to them a couple of times on the interception in the end zone and the fumble that was crazy. Reggie tried too hard on that play, he'll regret it forever, but he tried too hard to get the ball. We knew we could move it. It was a matter of being patient.
Q. So many times your team has went down this season in halftime and the 2nd half you've come back and put the pedal to the metal and beat things up. Texas didn't let that happen tonight. Talk about that.
COACH PETE CARROLL: That was very characteristic in how we play. We played so well in the third quarter. We did that again, but it was the two drives at the end, we couldn't stop them. Sometimes the momentum of our burst in the third quarter sets us apart from the other team, but they became more effective when they had to throw the ball, because now he's running as well, that actually helped them.
It's just the factor that he brings that makes a difference with this team, they are good players all across the board, but he's so unique. He's an X factor, he just takes off running and that's the issue. We weren't able to stop him when we had a chance.
Q. At this time right now does it feel like you lost this game or that Texas won this game?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I'm not going to take anything away from Texas at all, I'm not. We had our chances to the win the game, we had a 4th down situation, we had the ball in our hands on the pick. We had plenty of shots, the whole sequence of those last two drives when they had the football and we could have stopped them. It's simple as this, we had a turnover issue in this game. It's how it goes. We understand that philosophy and this night we needed to get it a couple more times. The football was all over the field. We had five different times it seemed like we didn't come up with it, that we could have won the game itself. I don't remember what the question was.
Q. I know it's really early, but how are you feeling about the coming season and losing some of the very powerful seniors we have right now?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I thought about it a lot. What my thoughts come back to about this football team right now, this is a program that has found a level of excellence, a level of performance and giving of their will to us that's extraordinary, and we'll get back to work and see how it comes together. We have great players coming in to offset the guys that are leaving.
We've always lost great players but we've replaced them. Recruiting efforts are extremely important right now, to be able to come in and fill these spots, let's get ready, let's go, we need them. Recruiting efforts are obviously enormous right now, to have another great year and get excited to come back for spring football.
Q. Talk about how much you think you left out there in the 1st half in terms of opportunities when guys got in the red zone and how that affected how far ahead you could have been at halftime?
COACH PETE CARROLL: That was a huge factor in this game. We could have had points in the 1st half, we screwed up. That's the power of turnovers. That's how it works. The free safety made a great play to pick that ball off, and then down in the corner. They earned that one. We gave them the other one. That's crazy. That's so far out of line with the way we performed. I can't even imagine how to explain that one. But I do know why it happened, Reggie was trying to get a touchdown.
Q. Could you walk us latecomers through the 4th down call.
COACH PETE CARROLL: It's real simple, the series before they had great success moving down the field. If they get the ball I don't know what yard line it was, but it's the 40 or so, whether they get it there and try to kick it down there or kick it 20 yards farther, it's not going to make a big difference. The difference is if you make the 1st down you're running a squad down to win the football game. It's unfortunate we didn't get it. We missed it by how much, eye few inches.
Q. Matt Leinart played his last game for you. Talk a little bit about Matt's impact the last three years.
COACH PETE CARROLL: He's been a great champion. He's been a great leader, a great role model. He's been a blast to be around and play with. It's time, you know it and I know it, it's time to go. It's an awesome feeling to know you have completed things and you've done everything you can do, and he did that. He played fantastic tonight again, and it's just too bad he couldn't walk out of here as the Rose Bowl Champion one more time.
It wasn't that he didn't do everything he could. I think rarely you get an opportunity to see a guy with all of his glory be such an extraordinary kid, and he is that. He made the decision to stay, and he should send a message to kids that that's the right decision to make. Matt graduated. He's going to get paid a ton more money than last year and he got to play for his college one more time. I know he wouldn't trade his experiences for anything. He's a living example for other people and that makes him a great leader, almost in a small way an icon in the world of college football and we're very lucky we had time with him. It's been great to be with Matty.
Q. Where do you think he ranks in college quarterbacks?
COACH PETE CARROLL: He's got to be up there, with all he's done. I don't know, but I know he's a great one. The top that has ever played.
S Darnell Bing
On trying to stop Vince Young:
"It's one of the hardest things possible...We tried to stop them as far as passing. We weren't expecting him to run as much. He takes the ball in his own hands...He's a big guy, a shifter with speed."
On being up late in the game:
"You can't be confident. Even when there's time on the clock, you gotta keep battling."
On going for the 4th down with two minutes left:
"It was a great call. You gotta be by your team. If we would have got the first down, we would have been able to run the clock out."
On feelings after the game and looking back:
I'm not upset about the loss right now, because it hasn't me yet."
DE Frostee Rucker
On Vince Young:
"He's a beast, man. He did his thing. They did an excellent job getting to his passes. This was a great game that's going down in history."
On Texas' offensive line:
"They're back there, but Vince is bailing them out. You couldn't simulate that in practice. He's so big, you don't expect him to have quick twitch moves like that."
QB Matt Leinart
On his feelings after the game:
"It's difficult, no matter win or lose. We still like what we accomplished the last three years."
On whether Texas won or USC lost:
"We lost it. I give credit to Vince and those guys but I feel like we lost it. That's just the way it goes."
On Vince Young:
He's so big and strong. It's tough to prepare for that and stop that."
On any changes at halftime:
"We didn't change anything. I thought we called a great game."
On ending his collegiate career in this game:
"I don't have any regrets. This is what I've wanted to do. We're champions. They just got us on this night."
TB Reggie Bush
On what he's going to do next.
"Hopefully I'll get a chance to take a vacation in the next weekend or something. Time to put everything in perspective."
On his Heisman award and if it affected Vince Young:
"He's a playmaker. That's what he did. Big time players step up in big time games."
On this game being a Texas win or a USC loss?
"A little bit of both. I don't feel like we played well as a team today. At the same time, Texas made great plays."
On Texas' defense:
"They were just playing good all day. They didn't do anything special."
On halftime adjustments?
"We didn't make any adjustments. We just ran the ball more."
On the Trojans in 2006-07:
Even with me leaving, I definitely expect them to come back for the national championship.
On his feelings after the game:
I'm sad. I wish we could take some of those plays back. Leave it all out on the field and live another day...We've made some tremendous things happen here...It's everything; frustration, angry, sad. Everything."