December 30, 2007
Beverly Hills Hilton International Ballroom
Head Coach Pete Carroll
"As the week winds down and the game gets closer, everything has gone beautifully. We've had a great preparation period and every facet of the Rose Bowl has been terrific so far. The guys are having a good time and it has been a great event that we're glad to be a part of. We're excited to get to game time with game day just around the corner. Hopefully we'll have a good football game for you. We're up against an extremely confident opponent, as Illinois is a very good football team. We're hopefully very well aware of that by this point and we've prepared to take care of business."
On being the football team everyone wants to beat:
"I love that because it displays the position that you're in. It solidifies you and tells you what you're all about. You want to be that team. You want to be the team that has to try to live up to your standards and is almost unattainable and beyond expectations for the other coaches. It separates us and makes us unique. We learn to dwell in that and it fuels us."
"Both those guys have been banged up all year. They haven't been 100 percent. But that is what happens. Injuries are a big part of the game, obviously. John's season was just totally challenged by the fact that he broke his hand. But if you're a tough competitor like these guys are, then you just battle your way through it and make the most of it. Then find a way to contribute as much as you can. Cushing is well enough to play really good football. He's played well down the stretch for us. I hope that he has a big finish. He had a fantastic game last year. He's a tremendously tenacious football player."
QB John David Booty
"I don't see myself from the outside so I don't really see it. I'm a southern boy. We're definitely raised a little different than someone from Orange County. I've been by myself a lot out here in Los Angeles. I'm usually just hanging out with my roommates. I don't put myself in situations where trouble can arise."
On what advantages he feels he has in this game:
. "I don't really know if we have an advantage. I think teams are so excited to play us now because they know you can beat us and they want to bring us down. A lot of coaches believe that that's the high of their season if they can beat us. I think that if we don't play our football, then teams can beat us. If you have turnovers or give up the game it can become a real challenge."
On what kind of a person it takes to play at USC
"I think it does take a special person to play at USC. I think that a lot of times you have to learn patience. You have to have players that will persevere through true adversity and most of them for a couple of years will sit behind on both offense and defense. It takes a bit of time to learn the system and figure things out. So I know patience is something you need really early on. Some of the young guys who graduate from high school and were All Americans learn that they have to sit out for a year or two until they get their chance. But it's all worth it though when you have to wait since it pays off by playing at USC."
On Coach Carroll
I think he is the perfect coach for us. No doubt about it. I think he's the best in the country. I couldn't see myself playing under anyone else on the college level. I wouldn't want to play under anyone else. He's made all of our trips out here to USC worth it. Including me, being from Louisiana and coming to California. I put my whole faith in that move and in coach Carroll and it has all paid off."
OT Sam Baker
On Rose Bowl week activities:
"I was telling someone how all the activities are routine now. We know what to do and not to do. For example, when you go to Disneyland don't walk around the whole time, you'll be dead tired the next day. Go to Downtown Disney instead and watch a movie."
On Illinois' as the underdogs:
"We don't look at it like that. We've watched them on film. I've heard a lot of people say they don't deserve to be here but they definitely do. It's going to be a game now. We're not treating them as the underdogs."
On Illinois' defense
"You've got to be prepared for a bunch of different looks. There's a whole bunch of different scenarios they can use and different personnel that they bring in. They have a pretty good defense with Leman and all those guys. They stop the run and they do a lot of things to cause the offense some trouble."
On the line between staying put on the line and moving around
"It's not difficult at all, I think people make a bigger deal about it than it really is. To me its really simple because you just have to be disciplined and play sound disciplined defense.
On the problems Mendenhall presents
"He does present problems, a lot like Oregon did for us because they have two guys that are capable of executing really well. The balance that they have will hurt you if you don't pay attention to both phases of the game equally. Right now, Mendenhall is a huge advantage for them because he is a great player. We just have to play solid team defense against them."