Pete Carroll Press Conference Report

Pete Carroll held his weekly press conference with the media today. Hear what Carroll had to say about Dennis Erickson, this week's match up with Arizona State and much more.

The Trojans face the Arizona State Sun Devils on Thanksgiving Day and at Tuesday's press conference Pete Carroll said the Trojans are very thankful that they get the opportunity to play in big game in front of a national audience.

"This is a tremendous, tremendous week. This is really an exciting time for us here in Trojan land."

The Trojans are coming off a bye week in which several USC players got to rest their various ailments. USC heads into Thursday's game in very good shape.

"The week we took leading into game week worked out fine," said Pete Carroll. "We got our guys some breaks. We feel healthy and feel strong and we are going to try and make the most of this."

Sam Baker and Keith Rivers are the Trojans only two injured starters. Rivers suffered a high-ankle sprain in USC's 24-17 win over California and remains questionable for Thursday's game. Sam Baker on the other hand has participated in non-contact drills all week and looks like he will return against Arizona State.

"Sam (Baker) is going to play. If he makes it through practice today he is going to play," explained Pete Carroll. "His confidence is back so we just got to make sure we don't have any setbacks here. It seems like a long time that Sam has been away and it's great to get him back out there."

If Baker isn't able to start then redshirt freshman Butch Lewis will start in his place at left tackle.

The Trojans will need all their players healthy because they are facing a very good Arizona State team led by the playmaking ability of quarterback Rudy Carpenter.

"He's a problem for us," Carroll said of Carpenter. "Rudy makes plays that you just can't fathom how he figured it out. Ever since he was at Westlake in high school he's always been a very active, kind of resourceful type of guy. If he can't get it done in rhythm in the pocket, which he is fine and very well equipped to do, he can find another way to make a play."

Carroll has been particularly impressed by Dennis Erickson and how quickly he has got the Arizona State program back on track.

"It's a cool demonstration of what Dennis (Erickson) has been able to do," Pete Carroll said. "He came into this program and started from scratch and came out of the shoots and won seven or eight straight games. He has had a coach of the year type year."

With the loss to Arizona and the injury to Dennis Dixon the Oregon Ducks suddenly look vulnerable at the top of the Pac-10. The always upbeat Pete Carroll said the Trojans are excited to be back in the conference title race.

"We are pumped to have an opportunity to win the conference championship and we have that opportunity," Carroll said. "No matter what has happened before, this is the same situation we would have hoped to have been in, where we could have a chance to be conference champs."

When asked if he would root for UCLA to knock off Oregon this weekend Carroll smiled slyly and replied, "I might find it hard to do that."


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