Today was the largest attendance ever at Monday Morning Quarterbacks. The staff set up for nearly 300 and still had to scramble for additional tables with overflow late-arrivals standing around the edges. A message from the coach was read asking us to go to the Rose Bowl and help UCLA defeat WSU. Some in attendance had difficulty getting into the spirit of that message but most of the people I talked to are genuinely considering doing just that.
Paul MacDonald was a special guest and spoke in advance of the coach's arrival. Paul reminisced about his tenure as our QB. His class won all four games against UCLA and 3 out of 4 against ND. He did some Q & A and in one answer he complimented Norm Chow and said that he had put a scheme together that took advantage of our strengths.
Pete Carroll arrived to a standing ovation and numerous cheers. He's a happy man and quipped, "wasn't that about as much fun as you can have on Saturday?" He said he was proud to be a representative of all of us. Pete went around the room and recognized persons associated with the program for individual compliments and said our success was because "everybody contributed".
Taped plays from the game were numerous and frequently drew applause from the audience. He started with the initial kickoff, forced fumble and recovery. Next the UCLA hike miscue in punt formation with our tackle deep in Bruin territory. Then a Tom Malone punt downed inside the UCLA 10 and finally the Bruin KO return with the smashing tackle by Oscar Lua. We loved it and knew that even better was coming.
For the offensive series, he showed all the Touchdowns several times. Also, we were treated to repeated viewing of Carson's run with the cartwheel finish on the 1-yard line. Pete had compliments for all the players and explained why various plays worked so well. Again this week he proudly pointed to the fact that we are the top rated team in the Pac 10 in protecting the QB.
For the defensive series, the coach showed blitzes, sacks, the Allmond interception and every fumble recovery. If I were to list all the players he complemented it would be like a recitation of the team roster. All the plays shown were accompanied by colorful commentary from the coach. He has a real gift for mixing humor while communicating solid information.
The Questions and Answers were mostly about Notre Dame. He said ND brought good pressure on the QB and had the best defense we've seen since KSU. He expects this to be a very intense game and said the Irish had a solid team with a good offensive line. When asked about our strategy for winning the game he gave complete answers, which I will not repeat. When asked directly about our punting strategy, he did say it was OK to tell the Irish that there would be no fake punts. This brought an equal audience response of loud laughter and moans from those of us still plagued with unpleasant memories.
Pete was asked about, but did not want to get into second guessing UCLA coaching decisions. Again he said recruiting was now at a high pitch and that several out of state "big timers" were coming in this weekend. Pete was asked directly what we had to do to keep him and he said, "don't worry, I'm not going anywhere". There were questions on the health of various team members, the direction of Pac 10 teams and other stand-alone subjects. After answering all question Pete Carroll excused himself and the meeting was adjourned. This was the final MMQB meeting for the year.