Coaches discuss USC vs Oregon

"It is a highly entertaining conference with all of the offense and all of the scoring, and the match-ups and the close finishes... I can't imagine that you could expect more production out of your offense then what you've seen in this league."

from usctrojans.com:

USC vs. Oregon
Football Press Conference Quotes - Oct. 22, 2002

Oregon Head Coach Mike Bellotti

Regarding mood of team after last week's loss...
"We've been through this before and obviously we don't lose very often so it's not easy. When you think about winning a national championship, last week's loss may have ended our chances. But we have to regroup and get our house in order to get ready to play SC. I think our players are frustrated and angry but we need to put that frustration to work for us. We need to practice harder and we need to understand that we were in this same position a year ago and found ways to come back with greater resolve. We have to come back one game at a time."

Regarding tailback Onterrio Smith...
"Certainly Onterrio is one of the best backs, not just in the Pac-10, but in the nation. He leads the conference in rushing. It's fun to talk about Onterrio because he possesses the skills to power through the contact zone, with moves and speed. He's healthy now and I think we're using him in a manner that will keep him fresh and allow him to have a tremendous impact on the game. He's a fun back to watch and yet powerful. He doesn't lose yards and he doesn't make negative plays."

Regarding quarterback Jason Fife versus Joey Harrington...
"It is hard to compare them. As I've said many times, Jason Fife is a different quarterback and I think the best thing he's done is not really try to be the next Joey Harrington. He's just trying to be the best Jason Fife. He's the second most efficient passer in the nation and that's the best way to describe Jason in my mind - as an efficient quarterback. He's only thrown two interceptions and one of them was not even his fault. He was hit in the back as he was throwing the ball, yet in the same play he managed to get up and tackle the guy who intercepted the ball. He has that kind of resolve, leadership and desire to make things happen. He's getting better every single game. I am very pleased with Jason's progress and what he's done for this program."

Regarding Oregon defense...
"I have certainly been concerned lately and it's not the yards that we've given up that concerns me... the yards don't mean anything... it's the points. No defense wants to give up a long scoring play and we were doing a good job over the course of the season of eliminating those types of explosion plays, but we've been the victim of many over the last two weeks. You have to give credit to the offenses, but it has been something in which we have not been operating well as a total defense. When teams throw a deep pass there is always something that we could have done to slow them down. Carson Palmer and that talented group of receivers are certainly capable of putting up a lot of points."

Regarding the USC-Oregon match-ups over the last few seasons...
"We've had some magic going on over everybody the past few seasons... I don't attribute it just to USC. We have been fortunate to play at home but we've also been stuck going to Pullman and Tucson about as many times as USC has come here. I think in every game we have found ways to win and hang in there when it seemed like it wasn't going to work. We had Joey Harrington and some unsung heroes who stepped up for us and made some big plays in those games to win. It has been tremendously exciting for the fans, even though it can wear out the coaches a little."

Regarding USC...
"I am very impressed with the overall speed and athleticism of this team. I've watched a lot of film and I don't know if I've seen a team that can move as well as this team can. The depth at receiver with Sultan McCullough is the fastest running back we will face and probably one of the fastest in the nation. Troy Polamalu... all I can say is, Wow. They have amazing make-up speed and they'll hit you and it is so impressive. This is obviously a great defense in terms of stopping the run so that is going to be a tremendous struggle for us. USC is playing with a different attitude this season and it has made them a better team."

Regarding USC receiver Mike Williams and what he has added to the receiving core...
"I think everybody would first say it is his size, but I don't think it's his size. I think it's the total package. He runs well, he's a big target and he can catch the ball. He's the total package. He can go after the ball and it's just another weapon in that arsenal where you can't double anybody because they're all very, very dangerous."

Regarding the weather forecast for the game...
"I hope it's rainy and cold but we haven't had a day like that yet this season. It's supposed to be sunshine and 70 degrees through Friday and rain is a possibility for Saturday. But as they always say... It never rains at Autzen Stadium."

USC Head Coach Pete Carroll


Washington Game Recap...
"It is really easy for us to turn our focus to this week's game because we were pleased with the win last week against Washington. I like to look at it by comparing where we were last year and where we are today. We have made tremendous progress at this point in the season. Our focus is easily turned to this week's match-up against Oregon because it is an important opportunity for our team to go up against a team that was so hot last year and is off to another great start this season. Oregon has been very effective in the Pac-10 over the last couple of years so we're looking forward to this game. They have terrific skill players, their quarterback has been playing great for them and their defense has been very aggressive. They cause you problems and they're very effective. We're looking forward to this and this should be a great match-up for us."

Regarding the competition in the Pac-10...
"It is a highly entertaining conference with all of the offense and all of the scoring, and the match-ups and the close finishes... I can't imagine that you could expect more production out of your offense then what you've seen in this league. There have been some big-time numbers put up by the quarterbacks and the receivers by so many teams in this league that it shows that there is a tremendous skill level in this conference. You won't have any idea how the conference is going to turn out until it's all over... we won't know until the end. We are definitely in the hunt and we still have a chance to compete for the championship."

Regarding the defense...
"We obviously play the run really well and that fits right in to Shaun Cody. He's one of our best players and will be for a long time, but Bernard played well and I'm hoping that we can continue to grow together as a four-man group."

Regarding Oregon quarterback Jason Fife...
"Jason Fife has done a very good job right from the beginning. He started fast and has kept on going. He's a big, strong, good-looking kid with solid mechanics. He throws the ball really well and runs around well enough to make big plays. He has been out on the edge and has even run a little bit of option. They've been able to get the same offense that they got from Joey Harrington. He's picked up right where Joey left off so they're really in good shape. You add that to the running of Onterrio Smith and this is a really good offense."

Regarding the possibility of rain in Oregon...
"It doesn't rain very much around here so it is very unfamiliar to us. We'll kick and catch wet footballs like we always do to prepare, but I don't think you can ever really get used to the ball being wet."

Regarding what this game means to Carson Palmer...
"I don't see it as any different than any other game. It is an opportunity for our football team and Carson is our leader. It has been very difficult for us in the past to get a win up there so I'm sure if we are able to get a win this weekend, Carson will factor into it in a big way. I don't think he measures this game any differently than all the others. We'll go after it just as we always do."

Regarding the Oregon-Arizona State game plan...
"I really respect both of those teams and the fact that they are similar teams that know each other very well. I took a very serious look at the way they attack and the way they defend. You have to take it into account. Both offenses were really on the money that day. Oregon got way ahead and Arizona State struggled for a while, but once they got going there was no looking back. It is a very important game for us to watch."

Regarding the BCS standings...
"Like I've said before, I really don't know a whole lot about the whole system and formula, but if we've never been rated before then it's obviously a good thing that we are now. We're making improvements and we're moving in the right direction. The whole rating is a lot more important at the end of the season then it is now so we'll see where we're at when the time comes. I know we have an opportunity to move up because our schedule is very difficult"

Regarding Justin Fargas touchdown...
"I was thrilled to see that happen. The whole football team jumped in excitement. We watched the highlights in the team room yesterday and the players really responded. He's just such a unique player and such a special spirit on our football team that the guys were really excited for him. He was pumped too. He could barely stand on his feet when he crossed the goal line. It just shows you the kind of impact that he can have. He's the kind of guy that elevates the people around him."

Regarding Oregon's offense...
"This is a very balanced offense. We always start with the running game because that's what where you have to focus your attention. If you can't stop the run then you can't stop anything. They have a very aggressive running style so if we have trouble stopping that running game then they'll beat us because it will give them a chance to mix in the passing game. We'll have to play the run very effectively to have a chance in this game."

Regarding the kicking game...
"The problems in our kicking game really have been the margin of victory. We did have one of our more consistent weeks kicking the football against Washington. I was really pleased with that aspect of our game. Tom Malone punted the ball very well and Ryan Killeen kicked the ball very well. I'm hoping that we can just find the consistency. Both of the young guys are gaining confidence and their play will likely be a factor this week. Last year at Oregon we gave up hundreds of yards in kickoff returns and it totally shifted the field positioning aspect of our game. We just can't let that happen again. If it is going to be the kind of match-up I'm hoping for, then all of these issues will be really critical."

Regarding Jacob Rogers...
"Eric played a solid game for us last week. He had a couple of big blocks. Jacob is looking very good and we're very optimistic. We're working toward having him return by the end of the week. He's done well in rehab and the report is much better than what we thought it would be."

 

 

 


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