Rose Bowl Press Conference Notes
RoseBowl Press Release
GINA CHAPPIN: I'd like the welcome he'd Head Coach Pete Carroll, who again will make opening comments, and turn it over for questions.Coach, welcome and congratulations.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Thank you. We are really proud to culminate this season and really this run for our seniors in this fashion.
By judging by the way we prepared through the whole process for this Bowl, there really wasn't a big question mark in my mind. I've seen this before in other years. We just worked so hard at our stuff. The guys were so tuned into it that we got it right, and, you know, to put up 630 something on an offense and stop their offense with our defensive play was just really, really exactly the way we wanted it to go.
We're thrilled about it. We love playing in this setting and love playing here. It's such a cool environment and event that this is a great place to end your season. And so to end it with another win is enormous. To hand the last victory to our seniors is enormous to us. So proud with these guys. Champions forever. To see the night that Rey Maualuga had, you know, and took advantage of the calls that we had and the scheme, he just played a phenomenal football game, as did a number of guys, but he was the recipient of the opportunities. He just killed them with his rushes and blitzes and the pick and all the stuff he did.
For John to finish up his career. This is how we dreamed it. We talked about it five years ago, just family and all, that this could be the situation that you're in, and to see it come true is just awesome. And I think John set a record today for touchdown passes at the Rose Bowl. All of the great players and the great games and teams that of been here, to do that is really wonderful.
We're really proud, and that's a long statement. I'm feeling pretty good about it.
GINA CHAPPIN: There's a question on the right.
Q. For both Coach and Rey, you talk about why you're able to really shut down their option? Was it the scheme, speed, intensity? Talk about that a little bit.
REY MAUALUGA: You know, coming in, you know, we had a month to watch over the film with Illinois in it. Going over our mistakes we did in Oregon and the mistakes we did in the Washington game, just put all those together, made sure that we got all our mistakes, and worked on them during the month span that we had, and, you know, we just had a great defensive game plan.
We just came out, executed. Everyone had their assignments, everyone had the quarterback, the pitchmen. No one went too far and went beyond their -- what they were supposed to do.
I think that's where we shut them down.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Yeah. I'm really proud of this preparation. I thought Nick and Kenny Norton, those guys did a fantastic job of teaching this process through the process. We really took it to a real personal nature that we wanted to see if we could figure the spread thing out and defend it really well and take the mystery out of it, and I don't feel like there's any doubt we were able to do that.
Our kids were so tuned in to what they needed to do to defend it, and we gave them a 79-yard run that was a dead play. But other than that, I thought it was really, really great overall preparation by the coaches, teaching process for the kids, and then the guys actually, they practiced so beautifully, it had to work out well if we had the right stuff.
To us that's a big deal, really big deal. So I'm really happy about that.
Q. Coach, could you talk about USC's future with Joe McKnight in your backfield and talk about the game he had today?
COACH PETE CARROLL: You got to be excited about Joe. From the day we got Joe signed up and he was coming in, this is what we thought he could become. Really through this preparation and again this month, we really force-fed Joe a bunch of stuff to make sure he could really be ready to have an impact in this game, and he's on the national scene now. Joe is the real deal. He's a fantastic football player. He's tough and fast and all the rest. He's really a difference maker.
We searched to find somebody to take kind of the style of play that we had a few years ago with Reggie. There's no question that Joe can do similar stuff, and he's a fantastic receiver. And as we work through the springtime camp, he's going to even have a larger role in things he can do. Thrilled to have him. He had a great night.
Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about Hershel's touchdown at the end there, what it means to him and to the program and how long he's been around. And also was that something you came into the game knowing if you had a comfortable lead, were you going to set him up for that or spontaneous?
COACH PETE CARROLL: These guys were all part of that, too. Hershel has been through so many challenges physically, and he's endured it and had a great attitude about it and always been tough and always hung in there and always passed the lessons on to the younger guys. They love him so much. It had nothing to do with planning for this. It was the opportunity arose and the guys on the side line were chanting, "Hershel, Hershel." It was really a moment. And for him to have to bang it out, do it the hard way and knock it in there was even better, and you saw what happened.
We had some penalties I didn't like tonight, but that one I didn't care about. That celebration was worth it. That was a real moment. We owe a tremendous amount to Hershel for hanging in there and being with us. Hershel won six championships. To end it for a touchdown was awesome. I'm glad we didn't score the last time. That would have been misconstrued. It worked out beautifully.
John, have you got anything to say about her she will?
JOHN DAVID BOOTY: Like Coach said, the guy who has been around for so long, always been such a hard worker, he definitely deserved it tonight to get that touchdown over anybody, I feel.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Hershel scored a touchdown win some of our guys on the team were seventh and eighth graders at the Rose Bowl.
Q. Pete, go back to Joe for a second. That lateral play, could you talk a little about that and kind of the awareness involved to keep going with that?
COACH PETE CARROLL: You can't imagine how much work it takes for John to throw it like that so it bounces just right. It's remarkable stuff.
When you give a guy that has that kind of talent opportunities, he's going to do special things and he did again. Joe will continue to do that. That's why we like him involved in the kicking game, all sorts of stuff.
I think he was a little tight motion-wise. So it made it difficult. Joe made something happen and accelerated, he burst out of there. I really thought the game kind of shifted from that point and so really cool.
Q. First, Pete, out of all the quarterbacks you've had at USC, what makes John unique in terms of his physical skills or his mental preparation?
And for John, I noticed you went to Havili quite a bit despite the fact he had a couple early drops. Was that to give him confidence, or did you see something in Illinois's defensive scheme that would make him an important part of the offensive game plan for you?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I'll start. What John has had a gift for is just his tremendous ability to throw the ball so accurately. From the first day he stepped on the practice field, when he was a young, early out from high school, he had just tremendous natural accuracy.
Because he knew that when he watched Carson and Leinart throw in spring practice, he knew he could throw it better than those guys. That's why he came so early. It took him awhile to get the system as it does, but he's one of the most pure throwers that you could ever want to see. It showed up in his numbers and consistency.
John's career will always be kind of looked at what happened in the middle of his senior year? He broke his hand. Other than that, he's had an incredible run for us. He's done it in the same fashion that Carson did and the same fashion that Matt Leinart did. He's going to have the same kind of success when he goes on.
JOHN DAVID BOOTY: For me, Stanley, he's a big time player for us. Anytime you have a guy like that, you're going to give him the ball. If Fred happened to drop one or Joe or anyone, you want to continue going to them, call their number.
It does appear to the defenses that they're running, what they're trying to do to our formation or personnel. You try to get him the ball just like all these other guys we have.
Q. Pete, can you talk about John now that his career is over with, how he's handled -- he's been really in a tough spot from the get-go, following Carson, following Matt, taking heat from guys like me, taking heat from the media. How do you think he's handled himself through all this?
COACH PETE CARROLL: He's handled it perfectly. He was the recipient of being able to watch Matt go through all of that up close and got to see every step of the way. I don't think anything was really going to surprise John through the process. Unfortunately, you know, other than that little nicked finger thing, he might have been right in the thick of the Heisman thing.
We were in position for that all to happen. Who knows which way it goes? In our experience, you have to be a champion, winning all your games to position your quarterback for that to happen. We would have had that opportunity and save the injury, you know, there's nothing we can do about it. Other than that, he had an incredible career. He did everything he could do here. He's a championship quarterback again and the MVP in the Rose and two-time captain.
Parts just been a wonderful, wonderful run for us.
Q. John David, how do you feel right now now that your career is done?
JOHN DAVID BOOTY: It was incredible. The last five years have been the best of my life. That's the only way I know how to put it. Until you go through it, I always dreamed about being in this situation as a young kid, playing for an unbelievable coach, what a great school, awesome program. Fortunate to have that chance. I guess you can say I'm blessed to have had everything that I've gone through, you know, at USC. Even being patient, sitting out, waiting a couple years, it was all worthwhile once I got to the last two years. Been the best of my life.
Q. Pete, this win with this specific team, when looked back upon, what do you think the legacy is going to be?
COACH PETE CARROLL: The consistency that they displayed over these years. I don't know that this is right, but somebody said in the locker room that this is the first time that a college team had won 11 games six years in a row. I didn't even know that going in there.
It's consistency. The championship ways that they've developed and the level of competitiveness they have maintained. These guys are great competitors. Not good ones, great one. It's how they carry themselves and take care of their world, what they do in school, and as they pass it on.
These guys were really, really special, and so, you know, a long time ago we talked about win forever. That's kind of what these guys have done. We couldn't be more proud. Couldn't be more indebted to their willingness to do the stuff and craziness we've taken them through to show they're this special and unique. They should always be remembered for that. We'll remember them for that. I remember that.
Q. Pete, now that the season is over, can you talk about where this defense ranks among the ones you've had?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I've shied away from that one because I don't know how you measure, but this is a great defense. There is no doubt. There is a great defense. These guys are so fast, they're so smart. They're so tuned in. I mean, they're so connected to their coaches and the stuff that we teach these guys. It's an amazingly tight group.
There's only one aspect of them that I gripped about over the years, us not getting enough turnovers. You sure couldn't tell that day. This is exactly the way we pictured these guys could play. This is a fantastic year. I don't know what we were ranked in the numbers and stuff, but this is a great defense. This is the kind of defense that allows you to have the opportunity to be a National Championship type of team and be a Rose Bowl type of championship team. They made it obvious every single time we went out there.
Rey was a huge part of it. Keith Rivers and Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson and all of the guys that did so much. Terrell Thomas. These guys had fantastic football careers. They've contributed an enormous amount of putting this together. They've really been the heart and soul of the consistency of the defense we've played. It's as good as any group we've ever had.
I loved the '03 team. These guys might be able to play over the top of those guys. We'll never know. We'll be able to talk about it, but never know.
Q. Coach, can you talk about the play that Kaluka made with the ball.
COACH PETE CARROLL: We had two of my favorite plays in football. The one that Kaluka -- punched his out from behind which is a perfectly executed take away right there. We work on it all weeks, every week around the calendar forever to get that beautiful opportunity just like it was perfect. Of course, it was topped off with Terrell Thomas's strip down near the goal line the other time. Just enormous plays. Those are my favorite plays. All of a sudden, you turn it and take it away from them by your discipline and technique and your savvy and all that. Those are my favorite plays. Those were great plays in this game.
Q. Coach, was this your most complete game of the season, and, based on today's result, do you feel that this team is as good as a team in America?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I don't know if -- we had a couple pretty darn good games this year. This was a great one for us against a really good game. The Arizona State game was a great win. Last thing I want to do is sit up here and try to lobby. We did everything we could with what we had.
I love the way the leadership took over, John and Sam Baker and those guys directed these guys perfectly to finish with everything that was out there for us we took.
The rest of it is up for discussion. But would we like to be playing right now? You bet we would. We would love to be playing football and we go anywhere, anytime and see what we could do. I felt like in Carson's year, too, I've felt like that every year we've been here. If we had a chance to keep playing, we would have a shot. Texas got us that one time.
So, you know, this is not to be misconstrued. I don't care about that. We had a great Rose Bowl championship win tonight. Was thrilled about it. Let the argument go on there with the people battling the BCS process to figure it out. I have no answer for them. Just wish we could keep playing and I know these guys, would. We would play long into springtime if we had to, if they would let us.
Q. This is for Rey. You told me before the season starting with regards to your No. 1 rank you haven't proven anything. How could today's performance, how you played, what do you think you've proven now?
REY MAUALUGA: I think we've proven something that, you know, all the critics and everyone was trying to ask where we're at, trying to categorize our defense, if we're at the top or if we're just showing up.
You know, being surrounded by a great group of guys, everyone did their part, everyone -- I don't know how to put it, but we just have an awesome defense and, you know, awesome coaches that made us do things that, you know, we're supposed to and make us work. And at the beginning I told you we didn't prove anything.
Tonight just shows, you know, what we are and what we're capable of, you know, there's more to come, and we've got to work on some things and we can better.
GINA CHAPPIN: Great. Guys, thank you very much. Congratulations once again.