The unflappable Pete Carroll traded light hearted barbs with Simers before going on to some more serious questions.
Carroll was upbeat about the remaining three games of the season and felt the Trojans have a good shot to get the offense on track for the final stretch. "This is really the 4th quarter of the season for us," said Carroll. "We really want to be at our best here and try to really make a big push to finish strong."
This week the Trojans face California, who like USC had their national championship hopes dashed earlier than expected. "They are trying to get their season right. We are trying to get our season right and it's a great match up for us," said Carroll. "We look at this game with a lot of respect."
Carroll stressed the importance of getting the offense on track for this Saturday's game against the high-powered Cal Bears. "Hopefully we can clean things up and be on track a little better than we were last week on offense," said Carroll. "It's going to take that against a challenging scheme of defense that has always been hard on us."
The USC offense has been hampered by inconsistent play in the passing game. The receivers have dropped a good deal of passes this season but Pete Carroll said that both the receivers and the quarterbacks need to make more plays.
The offense could get a boost from having a healthy Stafon Johnson available. "Stafon (Johnson) ran full speed yesterday. This was the best Monday he had," explained Carroll. "It's just been kind of back and forth with him. He really hasn't got over the foot thing until maybe this is the week that we get that done. The trainers held him out a little bit last week in the game."
Coach Carroll was happy to report that the Trojans are finally healthy with the exception of senior offensive tackle Sam Baker. "The one issue is with Sammy (Baker) at left tackle. Sam is a little bit better but we won't know until the end of the week how he is doing, but he is still sore."
With Baker sidelined, Butch Lewis and Charles Brown will compete for the starting spot at left tackle. "Butch (Lewis) did a nice job again. He made it through it and gave us some good work. I want to makes sure that Charles (Brown) has a chance as well to see what he can do," said Carroll. Both players should see significant playing time this weekend.
This weekend's game is a very attractive match up because it features two of the top coaches in the nation. Carroll explained that coaching against Jeff Tedford is always a great challenge. "He's done a fantastic job with their program. It's because he is a really good football coach. He's really got a strong philosophy about how he runs his offense," said Carroll. "When you play these guys you are getting their players best shot all the time. It's been a good challenge. I think the world of Jeff (Tedford) and what he is doing."
"I thought the NFL was looking pretty good to him a couple years ago. I wish he would have gone," joked Carroll. "I couldn't get him to do it."
Not to be outdone California Head Coach Jeff Tedford had very high praise for the USC defense. "It's probably the best defense that I have ever seen on tape. They are extremely talented and well coached," said Tedford.