Carroll, Koetter Discuss Saturday's Football Game

Oct. 9, 2001

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Football Press Conference Quotes

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'Last week at Washington as we assess it, we made some progress and unfortunately we didn't get our win. I saw some things that I really liked that we made a giant emphasis in some areas...one of them was the penalties situation and one was to come out and run the football. I was pleased to see that we could make that kind of change. It's been hard on us, it's an extraordinary challenging time for our football team and for our staff to make sense of the disappointments. We continue to find a way and work hard to keep developing as a club. As we look back at the teams we have played and we are unable to finish strong and beat teams at their place, it might make more sense later...but right now it's frustrating. Our attitude is critical. With Arizona State coming in, they have had a very nice start. The best comparison for us is to watch the Stanford game and to see how they played against them. They moved the ball and scored a lot of points, but they still lost the game. They had very good games and had an opportunity to build some momentum against the teams. I'm sure they are confident, they feel good about what they are doing, their quarterback is on fire and is throwing the ball down the field well. The receivers' average is up there and have been effective in their kicking game. This is a very big challenge for us and it will difficult if we don't play well. We look forward to coming back out and taking another step toward playing the kind of football that we feel good about. We played very strong special teams with the exclusion of some of our kicks late in the game. We played a solid game on offense, but we didn't finish the game on defense that we would have liked to...that is our challenge. We have to get out there on the final drive and find a way to get off the field. It comes down to execution and not making critical mistakes. We look for improvement and also I want to see them go out there and do it again. I want them to go out there and not have those penalties. Last week was a big improvement and also taking care of the football.'

Talking about season-ending injury to nose tackle Bernard Riley...

'It is obviously a big impact. This guy was a very strong player for us. It is more than just that...there are the intangibles. Bernard had such a great summer, he would work out three times a day and worked harder than anyone else in the program. It's such a great loss to see him not in there. We will respond...we'll bounce back. I can't tell you the rotation because I don't know the status of Ryan Nielsen and Bobby DeMars. They will both practice and will run around. That will help us a great deal. Mike Patterson will play nose tackle and Malcolm Wooldridge will back him up there. There is not a lot of flexibility. What Bernard did in that game, he finished the game. He had hurt his knee in the second series and got cut. We checked him out and it had stabilized so he continued. He battled all the way to the final series. He made a true statement about his toughness and preparation. It was quite an effort by this guy. I'm hoping that will give a little spunk to the guys who will replace him.'

Talking about last week's play of freshman Shaun Cody...

'Shaun played very well. He can play both tackle and end and is very comfortable playing where he played. He played with great leverage, played against guys who were 30 pounds heavier and he got on top of the football. He made plays, he rushed the quarterback and made plays in pursuit. He played a very experienced game. It was a very positive game, he also played on special teams.'

Talking about freshman nose tackle Mike Patterson...

'Michael has really surprised us. First of all, he came into camp at around 308 pounds. He is at 282 now and has lost a bunch of weight. He had some excess weight and we got him trim. Some of his quickness has shown up. He has very good and quick hands. What that means is he engages the offensive line really natural. He's built with good leverage and is able to stay under guys. He has shown that his technique is way ahead of where you would think a young nose tackle would be. He surprised us and as he has gotten into better shape...he played well last week. This will be a huge task for him to play the whole time.'

Talking about converting on third downs last week...

'That is where we fell short. We weren't able to run the football in the second half. We didn't get the conversions so that we could come back and have the mix of the run and the pass that we would have liked to. Our third down game we did poorly on offense. We expect to be close to 50 percent when we are clicking. That was a big factor in the game.'

Talking about team confidence...

'It's hard to have confidence when you don't have small successes. We look to find the areas that we are doing well and really emphasize that right now and try to build on that. But at the same time, you have to address and point right at where you can make your corrections. It's hard to be confident when you haven't been successful in a general sense. We are able to see the improvement that we are doing well so we try to build on that until the successes are obvious and you just hammer them home and see the results. Part of that for us defensively, we are going to adjust a couple of things in practice this week and look for our guys to be perfect in terms of their technique just to make an emphasis. In two-minute situations, it's the team that can execute cleanly and allow the other team to make mistakes that is successful. We just have to do it better. We have no room for error.'

Talking about field position in last week's game...

'The whole thing shifted in the second half. Our inability to make our first downs and make punts would have worked out better for us had we done that. We kicked the ball out on Washington's last drive out of bounds and gave them a chance to start on the 35-yard line. I would like to see us take deep kicks inside the 20. It changes the attitude of that last drive.'

Talking about adding plays to offensive game plan...

'I'm hoping that we can stay where we were and just move forward from there. We want to get a couple more first downs so we can start calling the things that we have available. It would be a significant statement for us to come back this week and be sharp on offense. That is a big challenge for us. I like the attitude that our pups on the offensive line came out of the game with...they felt like 'hey, we knocked them off the football...we came out here and did the things we wanted to do'...that is significant and part of what you are talking about in terms of confidence. We have to find it in small areas. As we approach the second half of our schedule, it will be very critical.'

Talking about perception of Pac-10 Conference now compared to before he took USC job...

'My impression was that it was very strong. I'm more impressed now with how strong it is. I'm surprised that every team has key players that are making plays, particularly on offense. The quarterbacks are really well equipped. There is a lot of firepower on the offense. Arizona State has got their guys who can go crazy on offense. That is the part that I wasn't really clear on is how good everyone was in the conference relative to our guys. I didn't really have a way to compare it. It's a little harder than I would have liked it. At the start of our schedule, there was no room for error. We haven't been sharp enough so it's a little harder in that regard. Our opposition is up to the task.'

Talking about taking responsibility...

'I'm not one to give it away. I think it's on me. That is my job to keep our attitude on our staff and players. Staff members have to take the guys one at a time to help them. It can't be easily done with the whole group. You have to find key guys that filter out and network for you. It's all about addressing the group leaders. It's an ongoing job to keep guys moving.'

Talking about offensive line...

'Jacob Rogers did a really good job. He started the point of attack on a bunch of powers that we ran. Alex Holmes and Kori Dickerson were very effective at the tight ends. Norm Katnik played a very good game at center. I think guys did some things well. We ran the same plays and ran a lot during practice. As it got going, they felt better about themselves. Sultan McCullough ran very hard. It's all part of the offense.'

Talking about running game plan last week...

'We just ran three or four plays. That was what we talked about the week before. We narrowed things down so we could get more repetitions and preparation. We wanted to develop a feel for the plays. You don't need a lot of plays, you need to run them well. We have turned to that approach more so than we normally have.'

Talking about play of sophomore offensive lineman Norm Katnik...

'Norm has played the guard spot, both tackles and center. The reason he can do that is because he's such a good athlete. He is really light on his feet, the quickest among our linemen. He has a lot of flexibility and is a smart kid. He can do all of those things well. Depending on who is banged up, we will continue to use him as a utility guy. He made a real statement this weekend. He did a nice job for us.'

Arizona State Head Football Coach Dirk Koetter

Talking about if it's the system or players that lead to success...

'Any time you are having success, it's due to the players. Anyone can scribble up plays on a piece of paper. You have to be able to protect the passer. You have to have guys who can run and catch. That all comes down to players.'

Talking about quarterback Jeff Krohn...

'The thing that has impressed us the most about Jeff is that he is a very fast learner and he has excellent field awareness. That is one thing when you look and watch his tape that you could see him do some good things and some not so very good things, but you never really know how a guy reacts to the flow of a game and how he reacts to what he sees and he can come off the field and tell you why he did what he did. A lot of quarterbacks tell you what they think you want to hear. They think they are trying to recite words out of your quarterback meeting. Jeff is not like that and I really admire him for that. He can tell what he saw, he can tell why he did stuff and we can work with that even if it's not something we are trying to do. He has improved at throwing the deep ball. In the spring, he didn't throw it great. He worked on it over the summer, got in the weight room. He has thrown it well right now.'

Talking about other offensive players...

'Before you even talk about our backfield, you have to talk about our offensive line. We start four seniors, led by Levi Jones and Scott Peters. We have only given up three sacks and it's a great line that has done a great job in pass protection and an adequate job in run blocking. It really starts with those guys. We are playing three different tailbacks that have different strengths and weaknesses. As far as the wide receivers, we thought we had depth as far as that position is concerned and it has proven true this season. We have had a different guy every week has kind of fallen into it. Donnie O'Neal started off hot, then Ryan Dennard had a four-touchdown game and Shaun McDonald had four touchdowns last week. We are pleased with our receivers and their ability to make plays and to learn the different concepts.'

Talking about defense...

'It is still a work in progress. Easily in my mind, our top player is Terrell Suggs. Terrell is among the conference leaders in both tackles for loss and sacks. He has great quickness, is a superb pass rusher and underrated against the run. We thought we were going to have tremendous depth on the defensive line, we have lost some guys there. Like other teams, we are a little thin at that position, but the guys we have playing are doing a good job. The linebackers, we only play two linebackers. Both Mason Unck and Soloman Bates are solid all-around players. We are happy with their play. We are young in the secondary. We play five DB's all the time. Our two captains, senior Willie Daniel and junior Alfred Williams, are experienced players but surrounding them, we are playing with freshmen and redshirt freshmen. Those guys will all play. We are experiencing some growing pains there, but we really like our talent. I think our defense will continue to get better.'

Talking about this week's game and the USC team...

'It takes you 15 minutes of watching tape to figure out that USC is a pretty good football team. They have been a little snake bitten and have lost some very close and winnable games. They have been right there every week. I can't imagine that there is another team in the whole country that is sitting at 1-4 that USC wouldn't beat the heck out of all. Number one, it shows that they have played a tough schedule. Number two, the depth of the Pac-10 Conference in general...there are no easy ones. The teams that have been winning...that have been used to doing it in the fourth quarter have been doing it. Teams like USC and us that are trying to get there, we need a breakthrough...we need to win those close games so that we can get things going our way.'

Talking about Terrell Suggs and defensive line...

'Terrell did have a huge game last week. The type of offense that Louisiana Lafayette ran is conducive to the type of game that Terrell plays. They did not run with the tight end, they ran mostly a four wide out offense and everything out of the shotgun...that plays into Terrell's strength. He is always on the edge and doesn't have to worry about getting double-teamed much. We are starting to move Terrell around each week so that we don't get him double teamed by a tackle and a tight end. Our two starters, Kurt Wallin and Tommie Townsend, have done a fine job. We just have to look for depth in other places. We should get Paul Glass back. He has been out for a couple of weeks. He is another big guy. Some of our younger guys have gotten some playing time and have gotten better.'

Talking about the three tailbacks and how they are used...

'Well I can't tell you exactly because part of it is top secret information and they would kill me if I told you. Part of it also revolves around injuries. Like any situation, we would love to be one of those teams that had a healthy tailback and give it to him 25 times a game. When I was coaching at Oregon, we had (USC tailback) Sultan McCullough's brother, Saladin, he averaged 23 carries a game and led the Pac-10 in rushing. We want to get to that position. We just aren't there yet. Tom Pace and Mike Williams are extremely versatile players for us. They play on every one of our special teams. They are the best special teams players we have so they get a lot of snaps. They return kicks for us, they cover punts for us and kickoffs. They do it all. Delvon Flowers is the closest thing we have to a big-time, game-breaking type tailback. We would have Delvon on every snap but mainly has had some minor injury problems. It is well documented that he had some reconstruction last year, had a pulled groin in fall camp that set him back a couple of weeks. He has really improved and he tweaked his hamstring last week in the first half and that forced us to hold him out in the second half. We always said it's a good problem to have, to have three guys back there that you can trust...eventually, we would like to work towards having a go-to guy.'

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