MMQB recap

Town and Gown was set up for maximum seating of over 350, however, having a meeting after a bye apparently confused some who had purchased season MMQB tickets. There were about 30 no shows and that is something we haven't seen in a long time.

The over 300 Trojans who were there were treated to a very frank, off-the-cuff and entertaining presentation by coach Pete Carroll. He treats us like we're part of the team and began with a pep talk about getting fired up about the Nebraska game and the new season. Believe me, no one I know who took the time to come to that meeting needed any additional motivation, but that's Pete. He is always selling the program.

Since this is the first report of the year I should let new readers know that we are prohibited from quoting the coach directly. He would like the freedom to say things that he doesn't want our next opponent to know, and frankly a few of his answers to questions about personnel are best not made public. So what I do in this report is to provide my impression of the general meaning of his remarks and to report what I saw on the plays from the game tapes.

Pete was positive about our performance at Arkansas. He pointed to some player's who he said had a great day. He talked about the first game challenge for new members of the staff as well. Pete feels that having a bye at this time of year is a good thing and particularly pointed to extra practice time for freshmen. He also likes the opportunity for the staff to get out to see top recruits.

The taped plays from the Arkansas game began with three from Special Teams. The first was Troy Van Blarcom's kickoff into and out of the end zone. Great job was done by Troy. Next came Greg Woidneck's punt that was downed on the 7. In fact he had three punts downed inside the 20. Finally a field goal by Mario Danelo.

The defensive plays began with a series of Arkansas fumbles. First a tackle by Keith Rivers who hit the runner with terrific force. Then Quito's hit down field that popped the ball out. Next was a full review of a defensive line stunt where Sedrick Ellis broke through and batted the ball out of the QB's hand. On that play, Kyle Moore crossed behind Sedrick to cover inside while Sedrick took an outside move and split the DG and DE. Ellis is really a strong player and this play showed that.

A second stunt play by Sedrick was shown. Then Brian Cushing quickly reacting from his position in the 3-4 and tackling Arkansas for a loss. Next Dallas Sartz read a screen pass and tackled for a loss. Then Fili Moala crashing through a double block with a tackle for loss. To finish this series, Pete showed Brian Cushing on a goal line situation crashing down the line and tackling the runner for no gain.

On the interception by Terrell Thomas it looked like Sedrick Ellis tipped the pass at the line of scrimmage. On the interception by Cary Harris we began by showing one type of coverage and running another. We also looked at a very quick reacting Taylor Mays making a tackle on a pass to the flat.

We looked at the interception by Thomas Williams and the TD by C.J. Gable.

The offensive plays were mostly the highlights. It began with two completions to Steve Smith from John David Booty. Then the TD pass to Patrick Turner that was perfectly executed by both John David and Patrick. Next we looked at what became the second half staple route, with JDB completing to a wind open Steve Smith on a short crossing pattern.

We looked at a run by Chauncey Washington where he broke several tackles. Then a couple of passes to Fred Davis. The first, one of those short crossing patterns and then that spectacular high TD pass. We then looked at the sideline [almost] completion to Dwayne Jarrett. Pete has a lot of fun at these meeting making fun of himself. He did so on this play because he called for a review and it really wasn't that close.

Everyone at my table was enthusiastic about the play of Ryan Powdrell. We looked at the pass where he caught it in full stride and juked two razorbacks before being tackled. Then the TD pass where he was wide open. Interestingly, Anthony McCoy was in at TE on that play and was even more wide open than Ryan.

We looked at the TD run of Emmanuel Moody – good moves. The Arkansas DL was stunting, closed the play that was called and Moody just adjusted to the new hole that was created. The kid is good. We next saw Moody's longer run where Jeff Byers was running ahead of him and flattened a DB.

We looked at Mark Sanchez completing a near TD to Trevon Patterson. That was followed by the short TD run by Allen Bradford. Interesting to me on that Bradford run, the OL was all backups and Brittingham was in at FB. Several guys got game experience.

We only saw the best plays but it clearly showed that we are a very good team this year. There is room for improvement but for a first game with a new quarterback, this was a first rate job, IMO.

The Q&A session was not as animated as usual. I think the bye week tended to lessen asking hard edge questions. The first question was essentially about whether we recruited for speed and I think you know the answer he received. Next was a question about what to expect from Nebraska. Of course I can't tell you how Pete sees this game but let me tell you he's got it well analyzed and knows exactly how he wants to proceed.

Someone then asked him about his 5-year goals. Pete just chuckled and while he made an effort to give a complete answer he basically said that he was really concerned with today's practice. Pete was asked to analyze the performance of our new tailbacks and I guess I can keep faith with the prohibition on quotes by reporting that he likes them. He was asked how Nick Holt was fitting in and he gave a long answer about how Nick was recruited the second time and how they work together. Coach Carroll was asked about his pre-game routine of looking at the opposing team and he told what he did, why it was important and some examples of successes of his method. I know that doesn't tell you a lot about his answer, but I want those of you who are considering coming to a MMQB meeting to know that a lot of special information is available that you just can't get elsewhere.

Pete was asked about moving Dallas Sartz to Safety and Pete explained who that was not such a good idea. Then the special teams lady asked her question. [For those who don't remember, one lady has made a reputation of criticizing the kicking game with hard edge questions. Pete always responds with good humor.] Today she asked why Josh Pinkard was left in the game on that last punt coverage play. Pete joked that he had been wondering what question could be found in the kicking game for this week and now he knew. Pete gave essentially the same answer that has been reported by newspapers i.e. he wished he had taken Josh out.

There was a question about hamstring injuries. Pete went on for several minutes describing the depth of inquiry about that and other new types of injuries. In essence I gather that he believes that evidence points to new training techniques. The final question was about the appearance that our WR's were mauled by Arkansas. Pete did say that they were very aggressive at the line of scrimmage but that had opened the field for the other patterns.

The meeting was adjourned with people in good spirits and looking forward to a big win this Saturday.


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