Carroll, Snyder Discuss USC-Kansas State Football Game

Sept. 17, 2002

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USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'After the first two games, we felt strong about the Colorado game...mostly because we went on the road into a difficult situation and handled the adversity of a big crowd and a team that won the conference championship last year. I was pleased with that. It gives us the confidence to go into another difficult situation in Manhattan this week and feel like we have a chance to play good football on the road. It's difficult to play on the road twice but this is a challenge that we looked at in the offseason and hopefully we prepared ourselves well for the challenge. We are in pretty good shape and came out of the Colorado game healthy, getting some players back. Justin Fargas should play officially for the first time and Zach Wilson should get some more playing time, he finished the Colorado game for us. We are feeling good about a couple of other guys coming out for us this week and looking forward to a great matchup. I have tremendous respect for the Kansas State program. Obviously, coach Snyder has put together a winning formula that has given them great stature in the Big 12 and the nation. They gave us all we could handle last year and we couldn't get the win. We have great respect for the way they play and their style. This is a game that we are going to have a good feel for what we are all about. If we are fortunate to win, we will feel pretty good about this start of the season. We expect to have a very difficult matchup. We are looking forward to it.'

(talking about possibly saving Justin Fargas for the Pac-10 games...)

'All these games matter, we couldn't get him back any sooner. He has to have a good week of practice to get his playing time. We look forward to him playing. He's not going to play all of the snaps. We will rotate him in. I'm excited to see the guy get his chance. He has fought real hard to create this opportunity and through a lot of adversity. Academically, he has worked his tail off to get it right and he has positioned him to be at the right spot.'

(talking about the offensive line...)

'The offensive line has really complemented what we are doing. They are doing their part very well, protecting the passer. We ran the football well this week, more so than against Auburn. They played as a unit and we were able to put some guys in there, showing our depth. I think the emergence of freshman Winston Justice really helps our depth situation. He is our starter this week. He played well enough. I'm pleased how our coaches Tim Davis and Keith Uperesa took advantage of our bye week in getting Winston prepared for the game. That gives us a great backup situation. Eric Torres can play right guard or right tackle. Zach comes back to play right guard. Fred Matua, if he's right, gives us another right side guy. That is the competitive situation that we need to have for guys to play at their best. I'm really pumped up about that and hopefully they can take the next step. This will be our most difficult challenge yet. By far, this is the best defensive line we have faced and our guys are going to have to play well.'

(talking about special teams and going up against Kansas State returner Terence Newman...)

'We have been in this situation before where we have played against great return players. Right now, our concern is not about the other guy, but about ourselves. We had too many plays that got away from us last week. Poor kicking that we did and had a return and block. We did some other things well, but there were some issues that we have to take care of this week. I am concerned because Kansas Sate is very adept at their kicking game and give us all kinds of problems...they can kick the ball high or long and keep it our of the returner's hands.'

(talking about sustained drives by the offense, allowing the defense to remain fresh...)

'This is a huge change from where we were a year ago. Malaefou MacKenzie showed a great burst and the toughness we needed for these drives. It will be a little more difficult with Fargas back into the mix this week for everyone to get their turns. We will do the rotation and hopefully do it very effectively. I think the point that the guys got to play early and to see them is important. I won't hesitate to put Hershel Dennis into any situation coming out of the backfield. It's a nice statement.'

(talking about possibility of playing in inclement weather on artificial turf...)

'I haven't had much success against thunderstorms lately, but I'm still working on it. I have been there before in the Midwest and dealt with weather like that. Kansas State is notorious for that and there is nothing we can do other than to practice and take care of business. It can make it very difficult to throw the football so that's why balance is so important. We will just go about it our normal way and practice with the sprinklers on as we always do.'

(talking about playing freshmen early...)

'I think it's about three things. One, is about good players and good athletes who can do everything you ask of them. Two, I think it's our coaches have done a wonderful job with our players in terms of simplifying our system. Our style of teaching is so important with how we do our work here. That's what we are, we are teachers. We have a difficult time to get all of the information across because of the limited time that we have. I think that's been a great illustration of the coaches. Third, we have recruited a lot of kids who are local and they can come by and watch us practice. They are there in the spring and the transition makes it easier for guys coming to our university. If you can picture a guy showing up in early August from out of state, that is the first time they see us practice and interaction with the coaches. I think we have been able to cash in on that and I think that's why it's important that we do such a good job of recruiting locally. I think those are the three elements that make that happen. Getting great players is very important.'

(talking about Carson Palmer as a Heisman Trophy candidate...)

'I don't think there's any doubt. In my mind, he is a fantastic performer and his numbers have proven that he is worthy of that kind of status. He is flying out of the game at 72% completion rate and leading his team to two strong wins. He is doing everything that he can and that generally follows the success of a team. If we keep doing that, Carson is going to be recognized as one of the best players in America. He's talented enough to do that, talented enough to be a high first-round draft pick. I'm thrilled about our start. I'm excited about our system because I know he understands it. He can really run things. I think anyone that recognizes the opportunity of Carson doing that is not taking a risk. This guy is equipped. He has done it all. He is a fifth-year senior and has earned his opportunity. He is ready. I'm thrilled about it and I'll talk to anyone about it. I don't think playing that up would affect Carson. We are in Los Angeles and in a great media market. If we have success, everyone knows about it. We are playing a schedule that nobody else can match and Carson is playing great football. You can put up billboards or magazine articles or whatever you want, it should come down to the kid playing and what kind of performer he is and how it affects the football team. This will be extremely difficult to go against another Big 12 team. But he is ready for this.'

(talking about being ranked No. 11 and expectations...)

'We just have to stay with our routine. Right now, it's about habits. How we prepare, focus and practice every day is important. That's how you build for a great performance on the weekend. You have to respect your opponent, which we did last weekend. It was obvious because we played our butts off on all aspects of the game. We need to hold that same respect for Kansas State this week, which naturally is easy for us. We will be tuned in this week and practice hard. That is the only way we have been doing it. If we can continue to do that, we will be a consistent program. It will make it hard for people to beat us. A long time ago, this is what I pictured that could happen for us. If we perform well on the practice field, we perform hard and stay focused...then we are starting to play good football. If you play good football, you will be hard to beat. If we have got good players playing well and good coaches then we will really be a factor and that's what this season is all about. It will be a great challenge.'

(talking about short passing game compared to throwing deep...)

'I want to see us execute passes. I want to see us complete 72% of our passes. I want to see us catching and running the ball like Malaefou did. I don't care about how long we throw it, I care about the results. The efficiency of our offense is what makes us move the ball and hold it and make first downs. I like the fact that we are doing what we are doing and continue to grow. You can't sit still so we don't. I'm looking for the consistency in our team.'

Kansas State Head Football Coach Bill Snyder

'We haven't played anyone who is in the same hemisphere as USC so it's a little difficult to determine exactly where we are at this particular time. I do think that we have made some improvements, we have gotten a lot better in certain areas. I think we are playing relatively well, but not nearly the kind of football team that we need to be I don't think. Again, it's somewhat speculation because we haven't played the kind of schedule that USC has. They were tested against quality opponents and proved to be deserving of the ranking that they have. It's a little hard to truly assess where we are, but I'm not unhappy with our progress we have made.'

(talking about defensive back Terence Newman...)

'Terence is a very fine player. Most people would look at the fact that he is the indoor Big 12 sprint champion for the last two years, so he has very incredible speed and in the past, that is what people have looked at with him in regards to whatever success he has had. I'm pleased with the fact that he is a good football player. He had demonstrated that he can do the things that good football players can do with or without world-class speed. His confidence has risen immensely in the last year and a half in regards to the things that he does on the football field in terms of being where he needs to be and being there at the right time and not relying just on the fact that he is faster than most players. He is going to play against people this week that are as fast as he is, but by the same token, it's his confidence and ability that has allowed him to make the kind of improvement he has.'

(talking about comparison between quarterbacks Marc Dunn and Ell Roberson...)

'I think they have both made immense amounts of progress dating back to last spring and certainly during our two-a-day practices in preparation for our last three opponents. I am pleased with that. They certainly have a ways to go in virtually all aspects of their respective games, but it far outweighs where they were a year ago. The position has been very competitive. Roberson was out this last week and we would anticipate that he would be with us this week and if indeed he is or when he's back, and we certainly under the belief it will be this weekend, that he will be in the mix and competitive. I don't think it's ever been a one-sided situation and the two of them have certainly responded in the competition. We just ask both of them to fit into the scheme of our offense. There is a little bit of a difference. It's probably obvious that Ell is a little bit of a better runner than Marc and Marc is a little more accurate than Ell, but each of them has made some progress where the other one might have a certain advantage. Both of them have progressed well.'

(talking about memories of last year's game at USC...)

'No. 1 is we couldn't get the ball in the endzone and that was because USC played so well defensively. They gave up some yards, but certainly when they needed to keep us out of the endzone, they did exactly that. I think going back and looking at the game film what becomes apparent is that they are a talented group of young men, well-coached and being only the second ball game that the entire group had been together with the same system and scheme, they were going through some growing pains. It's obvious at this point in time, they are over the growing pains. They have matured into that system and everyone feels comfortable with each other and the system. It's become very effective as it was most of the year last year. You look at their losses, two points here, two points, four points...you know the story, they were all winnable games. They could have just as easily been an 11-1 team instead of 6-6. I think they are a talented team, one that runs well and plays hard. They play aggressively. Offensively and defensively, they are certainly coached by two of the top coaches in the nation in Norm Chow and Pete Carroll. I think all of us have great respect for them.'

(talking about turning around Kansas State program...)

'There are a lot of things that have happened since I got here. Having quality people that are a part of this program, who are genuine, have helped. People who cared about Kansas State, the community, this program who were willing to roll up their sleeves and make this thing work and do it with a great deal of passion for the program and I have been fortunate to be around those kind of people.'

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