Rose Bowl Press Conference: USC Defense

The Rose Bowl Press Conferences started today at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Read what the USC defensive players had to say about playing in the Rose Bowl, Illinois and much more.

Rose Bowl Release:

USC Defensive Press Conference
December 28, 2007
Beverly Hilton

Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt

On how he views Illinois' offense:

"It's a different offense than we've seen. There are a lot of receivers, a lot of spread stuff. You have got defend the whole width of the field and the vertical passing game but at the same token you've got to prepare for all the runs and the option so it's almost like you're playing against 12 guys because the quarterback is like another running back. And on top of that they are no huddle."

On how no huddle affects the defense:

"You can't substitute. It makes it very hard to substitute, not that we're a substituting defense anyways, but it's hard to get new guys in and keep guys fresh out there. You've got to keep your guys out there. But what it really makes you do on defense is that you've got to get lined up because they can stack their ball in a hurry so you have to get your calls in, get situated, and get lined up to all the formation and then they'll see in the line of scrimmage what formation your in and look over at their sideline and their coaches and usually get themselves in the right offensive play according to what they see according from the defense so they make you declare your alignment and make plays off what they see."

On how USC is preparing against the no huddle offense:

"Bottom line is they have to get lined up. Because you don't change the play you just run what's called and so if you getting too fancy with your alignments and your disguises then guys get out of positions then it's a headache."

On Juice Williams:

"He's a lot like a combination of Jake Locker and Dennis Dixon. He has a similar style because he's physical like Locker and has the scrambling ability of Dixon, although I'm not saying he's better. We've faced those guys and gotten to see what worked and what didn't work. We've tried to tweak some things and work on our containment especially."

Defense underappreciated?:

"People don't know about our defense even though statistically we're certainly up there with the best in the nation. I know that after teams play us, they certainly know about our defense. Just ask Michigan after last year or ask all of the schools that we've played this year, it is probably the first thing they mention is the defense. We're fast and physical and I think that we surprise people because they have the stigma of the west coast that there's more offense than defense. The thing that people really don't realize is how good our front is. The kids are physical enough to match up with anyone in the country."

Linebacker Keith Rivers

On playing in the Rose Bowl:

Our goal every year is to go to the Rose Bowl and play in this game. You can't control anything else. So it's always our goal. This year, I admire the fact that we get to play in the Rose Bowl."

On avoiding the Bowl Game slump:

As soon as you walk into the doors at USC, Coach Carroll teaches you how to be a competitor. If you're a true competitor you respect every opportunity that you have to play football. If you love the game of football, then you respect it enough to give it your full attention no matter where you're playing."

On the defense being the highlight of this Trojan team:

We don't feel that way. I mean we hope our fans like to see us that way. Our goal coming in was to dominate and hopefully we've done that to a degree."

Defensive Back Terrell Thomas

On running quaterbacks:

"It's been our kryptonite in our defense, those running quarterbacks. We won some but we lost some obviously. Everyone just has to do their job, that's the hardest thing. You can't really do too much, just do your job."

On the factors of the success of the USC football program:

"Obviously it's the coaching. We have a great coaching staff. The next I think are the players. We have a great defensive line this year. We work hard, we do our school work we have fun. It is exciting to work out, even if we're tired. We work hard because we want to be the best."

On the strengths of the USC offense:

"They are great at game planning, they have eight different running backs, and we have good wide receivers that are able to make plays. We've got a great offense. We've got Fred Davis, Sam Baker, and John David Booty. It's real challenging when we play them. They are always moving the ball, but we have a good offense."

Defensive Lineman Sedrick Ellis

On last game:

I have mixed emotions about it. I'm happy to be moving on in my career and doing different things and at the same time sad to leave this Trojan Family with Coach Carroll and Coach Holt and all of the others. It's been a great experience."

On what they've accomplished in his four years:

"This may be the most winningest class in college football history, but you never really think about it until you come to the end. Playing with players like Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and others, it's pretty amazing."

On expectations and the Rose Bowl:

"I don't think we're settling for the Rose Bowl at all. Our goal during my entire career has always been to get to the Rose Bowl. We can't control things like how polls rank us and where the BCS puts us during the bowl season. There are so many expectations because we've done so well that you lose track of what we've done, but looking back at it as a senior I think that we have done some great things."

On comparison to Oregon:

"It's very similar to Oregon because it is a very difficult offense to manage from a defensive standpoint. Everybody has their own responsibilities on defense. Certain players have to cover the quarterback, others have to cover the running backs, and if we lose track of our assignments and aren't technically sound, they'll gas you."

On defending Juice:

"We have to be technically sound all game and make sure you're in the right position at all times. Everybody has to stay home. When he drops back to pass the linebackers can't turn their backs and run downfield, they have to keep facing him and make sure he doesn't take off down field. From a defensive lineman's standpoint, you can get pushed off the ball because he will just take off with the ball; he's that god of a runner."

Defensive End Lawrence Jackson

Motivation facing a team you haven't seen before?:

"It doesn't matter because at the end of the day you're just going to remember the color of the jersey that the other team was wearing. There really isn't anything cool about facing a new team, we just have to go out there and take care of ourselves."

On last year:

"At one point at the end last year I was gone. I thought that I was ready to embrace the challenge of the next level but I stepped back and looked in my heart and saw some things that I was second guessing. I felt like if we got most of our core group of guys back that we could be a great team and it was a great decision to come back. It allowed me to grow as a man and a player as well as see different perspective of things. Coming back as a senior allowed me to really calm down and play football without worrying what I'm going to do next year. The NFL isn't going anywhere."

On Rose Bowl Letdown:

"You can get away from the goals that we set, if you do that, you're bound to be disappointed. Even if we were ranked number one or number two, there is still a chance that we wouldn't be in the national title game. The only thing we can control is going out and playing hard every game and winning a Pac-10 Championship. This is the only goal that we've had. Even when we lost the second game we knew that there was a possibility that we could still come to the Rose Bowl. Championship teams always believe that they have a chance to win and we were able to come out on top and make it here to the Rose Bowl."


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