The Monday Morning Quarterbacks met with coach Pete Carroll for lunch today (9-30-02) in Town & Gown on campus. The crowds are growing as the season progresses and I estimate the attendance at over 170 today. As could be expected, the mood was very upbeat with everyone having his or her own favorite play to discuss from the Oregon State game. I would assess the consensus of those who attend this event as excited about the progress of the program but still with some residual restraint. Too many of us remember great starts during the Paul Hackett years that fizzled later.
Pete Carroll arrived to a standing ovation with cheers and whistles. The assembled Trojans were the most demonstrative that I can remember. As I have come to expect, Pete gave back the same enthusiasm with a happy demeanor and a presentation full of funny insights into the game and his outlook on football.
In case anyone is reading my MMQB report for the first time, I should alert you to the understanding that Pete has with MMQB. He'll tell us what is really going on so long as we don't quote his remarks outside the meeting. That puts a severe cramp on what can be reported by me but I can give my impressions of what he says.
In short, Pete Carroll is pleased with the way the team played last Saturday. He believes that the kind of performance we had sends a message to the entire league. He first showed tape of several kick-off and field goal plays and was complimentary toward Ryan Killeen and the coverage teams. Several of the plays shown from our offense demonstrated our plan for beating the "bump-and-run" pass defense strategy. They worked against OSU and did not against KSU. The difference was clearly that against OSU we caught the ball. On the running plays shown, we looked powerful and on one play where every lineman got a good block to spring Justin Fargas, Winston Justice pancaked his man.
I am not trying to tease anyone by withholding information but PC took considerable time to explain our strategy and play design for wearing down our opponents. If you can attend future meetings, I think you will enjoy the frankness of his presentation.
The question and answer period was long again today. Several questions were asked about how coaching decisions were made during games. He described a step-by-step checklist he goes through with Norm Chow for offense and Greg Burns for defense before the next formation and play are called. Both those coaches are in the press box during the game. Questions were asked about players possibly red shirting and apparently there is still time to maneuver so several decisions are on a game-to-game status.
As you can imagine, some questions are soft balls. He hits them out of the park but he's a considerate person and does not let on when a question is so basic as to be a waste of time. There are some real issues raised as well, even in these very good times. Several questions came in about play calling, the mix of run and pass plays and particularly the mix on first down. Basically I can report that he is not satisfied with the results of our running game but feels we are getting better and that we must learn to be good in order to be a championship team. He is therefore going to continue to run the football until we get it right - or words to that effect.
Questions were asked about recruiting and of course he cannot discuss specific recruits. He did say that the future looks bright and that a winning program will lock in some highly sought after recruits that we really want. The atmosphere in our dressing room after the game, with recruits present, was evidently a very big positive.
He did give his opinions on Washington State and how we would play. The meeting adjourned and PC went back to work.