USC's Carroll, Auburn's Tuberville Discuss Season Opener
Aug. 27, 2002
USC Football Media Luncheon
Auburn Coach Tommy Tuberville
'It's been a very physical camp. We've had a lot of contact. We've had two full scrimmages and we feel we've gotten better as a team. We've got a lot of holes to fill anc places where there are question marks. We're playing a lot of young players at some positions at receiver and at other areas. You try to get a good 2-deep because most of them will play.
'We changed offenses and changed defenses over the off-season and have made a lot of progress in those two areas. But the only way now that we can find out where we're at with both of the schemes is to play against somebody other than ourselves. Our players are excited about coming to California and playing on Monday night and playing a traditional team like USC. When you play an opening game against a team you don't know anything about and they don't know anything about you, the unknown is always there and I think it's a lot of fun.'
(on choosing senior Daniel Cobb to start at QB over sophomore Jason Campbell) -- 'We watched both work for the last six or seven months. There's not a big difference between either one. They both have similar height, speed and arm strength. Daniel is a little more mature in that he's been around more. He's had some health problems and he's worked hard to overcome those and has really won the respect of the team. The quarterback is not just the leader of your offense but also of the entire team. All the players look to him for encouragement and things to hang their hat on. The things he's fought through have made him a very popular player among our team. Jason has tremendous ability, but has three years left with us. I think both will see playing time, but now Daniel is the guy we think will get the job done for us.
(on tailback Carnell Williams) -- 'I've watched him grow up through the high school ranks. He's not an impressive player until you've watched him for about a quarter or tried to stop him if you're a defensive coordinator. He's got great ability and deceptive speed. The thing that separates him from a lot of players I've had in 27 years is attitude. He never says anything in practice and does everything full speed. By doing that, you know what you're getting. Sometimes you watch somebody in practice and he's a question mark because sometimes they go full speed and sometimes they don't and coaches are always having to encourage them to give more effort. But what you see is what you get out of him every day. There's no cruise control.'
(impressions of USC) -- 'Over the years I've followed Norm Chow. I was at Miami coaching defense when he had Ty Detmer (at BYU). They run a good scheme offensively. They'll be well-coached. And Pete, being the head coach and being defensive-minded, it gives them a great tandem of really having a good scheme on both sides of the ball. We've watched all the film and looked at players and we think we have a good game-plan but you never know.'
(perceptions of coming to the West Coast and playing a Pac-10 team) -- 'We scheduled this game a couple years ago because we thought it would give us some good chances for recruiting for a couple classes and give us some national publicity, which it will for the next two years. We were looking for someone to play with great tradition and played excellent football in a city that gets great media attention and there's not a better place than USC. Our guys are excited about coming out. It'll be a long trip, but it's one we can all handle because it's at the start of the year.'
(on adjusting to new offensive and defensive coordinators) -- 'It takes a while. The biggest thing you worry about from a head coaching standpoint is how are they going to work with the coaches you already have? Because you're like a family and you work 15-17 hours a day for eight months, seven days a week, and you have to get along and communicate. And these two guys, Bobby Petrino (offense) and Gene Chizik (defense), have been excellent at that. We've taken their philosophy and combined our philosophy on both sides and made changes and kind of made our own package. It's kind of a great marriage so to speak. Going into spring practice it's like starting football all over. You start with terminology and a different language. We're at the point after spring practice and 30 two-a-days, we need to play somebody else to see where we need to work.'
(impressions of USC safety Troy Polamalu) -- 'He plays everywhere. They do a good job of putting him on the line scrimmage, off, playing man. You can tell he loves contact. He's all over the field. He reminds me of Benny Blades when I coached at Miami. He's a tremendous athlete and he can probably play several other position on the football team either on offense or defense. He's like the quarterback. He gets people lined up. If you got anybody coming back on your team on defense, your safety is probably the most important.'
USC Coach Pete Carroll
'There's a lot of excitement in the air. For the coaches, I know, because it's a culmination of a long, hard off-season to get to this point. The players are pumped up because they want to get it started on a right note. I'm pleased with the work we've done. At times we have had to adjust a bit because of the nicks and cuts, but we've made it through with a good attitude and an opportunity to get better. I like that our players chose our captains as Troy Polamalu and Carson Palmer. They picked guys who are emblematic of hard work and giving everything they have to the program. Those guys, plus the seniors and others who take a leadership role will really be important to the season, because it's going to be challenging.'
(goals for the team) -- 'We want to play well and I want to show that we know our football. If we play the way we're capable of, we can be a good team. But there's a lot that goes into that. In terms of tangible things and wins and that kind of stuff, I don't talk about that. I'm more about the quality of our play and effort and that we see our preparation show up on the game field. Now we have to get mentally right to play a tremendous opponent.'
(regarding the CB situation) -- 'I'm going to wait through the week and see how it goes. Marcell Allmond comes back today and Ronald Nunn comes back today and we'll see how it fits together. Justin Wyatt has had a terrific camp and has done a great job in preparation. I feel better knowing that the other two guys are coming back and that William Buchanon has moved over and made a splash at the spot. It gives us a sense of depth we haven't felt through summer camp. It's a big loss to lose Kevin Arbet. He was a tremendous football player in all ways and a tremendous asset in special teams. We lose a big player, but we have to deal with it. We turned the corner a little bit with the younger guys and if we get a good week out of Nunn and Marcell, we'll be in good shape. We're very strict about the way we coach these guys and they have to be disciplined the way they do it, and the kids have taken to our style.'
(on the tailback situation) -- 'We've got four guys that can play, and that's really encouraging to be able to say that. Justin Fargas' status is questionable right now. We won't know until we get him on the (practice) field. I'm going to be tough on how he shows. If he doesn't show he's full speed and raring to go, he's not playing. We'll see how it goes. Tomorrow we'll be a big day to see if he's ready to return. But the other side of it is Malaefou MacKenzie and Sultan McCullough, Darryl Poston and Hershel Dennis are ready. I have no problem with those guys playing. We didn't know who the top guy was coming in and still don't. Malaefou will start the game at tailback unless something changes and that gives us great experience and leadership. Sultan will play a bunch and we'll go from there. I think we're in a strong situation.
'Because we know that Sultan and Malaefou have been here and know how to play the game, we've had the opportunity to really get Hershel and Darryl ready. Hershel has had an exceptional camp. He hasn't missed a step or play the entire camp. We have confidence in him.'
(on preparing for the game this week) -- 'It's a huge game with a big spotlight. It could make some people to take a step back. School just started and we're just out of camp. There's a lot of question marks. It's really important to me to impress upon our team that they don't have to do things outside of the lines to play well. They have to execute and do the things they've been prepared and trained to do. Even though they'll be sky high, they need to play with a level head and execute the game plan. That's important to me that we get that across. I know what we'll get out of the experienced kids, but it's the younger guys you're not sure about, but I think they'll handle it well.'
(on progression of the offensive line) -- 'Well, naturally, just a year older, same guys, you grow. You are better, no doubt. We're physically better and wiser for our experiences. Even when we throw in a young guy like Fred Matua in the starting lineup we haven't taken a step back because the older guys can keep him up to speed with the calls and communication. We do have a sense that we've been there before. Now we need to play better. All indications from camp and just a natural maturity shows us we can.'
(on the defensive line) -- 'I think every time we go out, we expect the defensive front to play well. We're counting on that. They've been in the system, they know what they're doing. They're physically better than they were a year ago. They're very well versed. I think we can stand up against anybody up front. Starting with Shaun Cody. He's a heckuva player. He's really an effective guy. He understands the game and makes plays outside of where you normally expect guys to make plays because of his savvy and he tenacity. Kenechi Udeze is a heckuva player. Michael Patterson has had a great camp. Omar Nazel is an experienced player and knows our system. We're really counting on big things from them. I'm counting on big things every week on the front.'
(on Carson Palmer's progress) -- 'I think that he has an opportunity to bank all of the experience he's had. He's comfortable with the system. With knowing him better, we've adjusted things to take advantage of what he does well. It creates a better opportunity to be really efficient and show us what he's about. I'm anxious to see him carry the football and run the ball. He's a great runner and we've worked extremely hard on ball security and issues that we're a problem last year. Things that make a quarterback more effective. With the group of players around him, he's got a chance to have a big-time year. I don't want the offense to rely totally on Carson to sit in the pocket and throw the ball. That would become difficult for us with our kind of schedule. It's important we have balance and spread the ball to everybody. If we're able to do that, we'll be an exciting team. I hope people around the country can see what a player he is and I think that will come from us being a good team. I believe he can throw the ball as well as anybody out there. There isn't anyone that can throw more accurately, that will run more effectively and have that passing ability. Now we have to show it.
(on the backup QB spot) -- 'Matt Cassel will practice this week and we'll see how he goes. The competition has not ended for Matt Cassel, but Matt Leinart is in position to be the second quarterback. He's taken it on and tried to take advantage of the extra snaps. He'd go into the game as the backup right now. But I'm not ending the competition for Cassel. He just had an unfortunate injury that he's coming back from. I would have liked to have the decision earlier for both their sakes, but this is where we are.'
(on playing on Monday Night Football) -- 'I don't think it has the same impact as in the pros, but for some of our guys, it's a dream opportunity to play on Monday Night Football. For this one night, they can live the dream a little bit. It'll be really fun.'
(on how the program is different now than a year ago) -- 'We're more solidly fitted together. Everything is more in line. There was a lot of loose ends we were tying together on the move last year and trying to make sense of the theme of how to prepare. All of that, I was working hard to get the points across. Now the guys are using the routine of what we go through to help them prepare and be mentally exactly right by game time. They are more in order now and they better be because we need everything going in the right direction for us there.'
(expectations from Auburn) -- 'Bobby Petrino coached in the NFL for a long time and he was in college for a while. Both coordinators have good records. We have something to go on. We've got to be prepared for a lot of stuff. We have taken an approach where we've prepared our kids for a lot of things that could happen. We have to be more generally prepared this game than in most games. Carnell Williams is a great player. He's really a great performer. He can break the game at any time. He tore through the SEC when he was playing last year. (Monreko) Crittenden is a fine offensive lineman. Looks like a No. 1 draft pick type guy. They have three tight ends that play well. One guy I'm concerned about not knowing much about is their receiver Ben Obamanu. He's a guy who blasted to top of their depth chart. On defense, they have a fast front. I like (Karlos) Dansby, they're linebacker. They've got guys that can fly. The safety (Junior) Rosegreen makes plays all over the place. They have real nice speed and athleticism on their team.'