Troy Polamalu press conference recap

"Both programs have been put through a lot of pressure to restore the tradition of our university. I don't think any other school in the nation has to deal with the pressure that these two schools have."

from usctrojans.com

USC Safety Troy Polamalu

"I'm looking forward to this football game. The team is getting ready to play our best game as a unit. I believe that we are going to have to be at our best to be on the same field with such a prestigious team like Notre Dame. We are excited for the challenge."

(talking about playing with a high ankle sprain, similar to the injury to Washington State quarterback Jason Gesser last week...)

"When I first heard about the injury with Jason, I somewhat know him and have a great respect for him. I started praying for him. I hope that he gets back. As far as the high ankle sprain, it's very hard to come back right away. His team definitely needs him. I couldn't believe what our team would be without Carson. I believe the team really needs him for the UCLA game. Putting up with the pain with the ankle sprain is the hardest thing. You can do as much as you can in terms of taking a shot to block the pain, but the disadvantage I had was it happened during the middle of the season. If I started taking shots every week then it would wither away at the end. The advantage that Jason has is that he can take the shot now and let it rest before their bowl game. It all depends on the individual and what he wants to do."

(talking about run defense that USC uses, especially against top running backs...)

"Last year, we had a tremendous problem stopping the run. Throughout last spring and summer, we tried to bulk up. As far as strategy in our run technique, our defense was more sound in our gaps. Starting with our defensive line, they have played so great this year even with the loss of one of our best lineman in Shaun Cody. Our linebackers have stepped up. We are not really big. We are playing strong up front and fast as well."

(talking about playing against an option quarterback like Notre Dame's Carlyle Holiday...)

"Against Kansas State, we had big problems against Ell Roberson. Definitely, we are going to have to prepare like we are playing against three running backs in the backfield. In the past, it has given us some problems and we haven't been really successful which adds to the challenge. We are excited and will really have to be at our best to play against them."

(talking about any changes in defensive scheme with success of USC's offense this year...)

"Judging from last year to this year, I don't see a real difference in terms of our play-calling. I think as far as emotions, we feed off each other. As far as time of possession, it definitely has shifted from last year. This year, our defense does not have to be on the field very much which gives us fresh legs. It gives us the opportunity to hopefully go three-and-out or give the other offense a short drive. That is the biggest advantage with the success of our offense."

(talking about playing a week after an emotional game...)

"Our focus on each game this season has had special meaning. We haven't been successful in the past and we have been beat by a lot of the teams we have played this year. Each game has had special meaning and this one, obviously, speaks for itself. I don't think that we will lack focus at all for this game. This is what football is all about. This is what kids dream about, playing in the USC-Notre Dame rivalry game. It's lost some of its sense recently, but fortunately this year both teams have been successful and up there in the rankings so it's what the rivalry first started out to be."

(talking about playing with a 'Samoan' mentality...)

"To me, it means the love and the passion just to play football and to be committed to your family. The whole Samoan race is family-oriented. Whenever in times of battle, they have been great warriors historically...having football being our battleground."

(talking about parallels in two programs...)

"Both programs have been put through a lot of pressure to restore the tradition of our university. I don't think any other school in the nation has to deal with the pressure that these two schools have. I was very aware of this rivalry as a kid. I was a USC guy at heart. You always know about the USC-Notre Dame rivalry. This is so huge and something I believe every kid will start looking up to now. Hopefully, they will want to start going to one of these universities."

(talking about changes in Notre Dame's offense...)

"From what I have seen, I remember last year that they used more option. This year, it seems like they are not running too much at all. I'm not sure if they have run it at all this year. The fact that he can scramble would create another threat for our defense."

(talking about playing against Carson Palmer in practice...)

"I have always thought Carson was the best quarterback that I have faced. I think now he is in a system that he is comfortable with after the problems of having different influences in terms of different coaches and systems that he has to learn. As far as our offense, he is in the second year under coach Chow and he is comfortable. He knows everything there is to know about our offense. That makes him play that much faster. I don't think that Carson felt pressure early in his career, but he is feeling some now with the talk about the Heisman. I think the only focus he has now is getting ready for Notre Dame. That's always been his primary focus, his team comes first."

(talking about bias against the West Coast...)

"I think Washington State had a chance to be up there and I think it's very tough. The level of competition on the West Coast is very close. There are opportunities to lose more games here. I don't think there is a bias."

(talking about Carson's chances for the Heisman...)

"I think Carson is the best player I have faced and feel blessed to be his friend and teammate. He hasn't changed this season even with the success. He doesn't let anything affect him. As far as personality-wise, Carson has always been Carson since he has been the quarterback. He has always faced pressure, but has always found a way to enjoy life. I think that's one of the reasons for his success this year."

(talking about being a finalist for the Thorpe Award...)

"The winning has always been my primary focus and I never liked to receive an award that has separated me from my team. In my perfect world, we would all be All-Americans and play at such a high level at every game. I feel gracious about being named as a finalist. I don't feel like I played very well this year, but it doesn't matter because we have been winning. The sun is shining a lot brighter now."


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