Carroll, Tedford Discuss USC-California Game

Oct. 8, 2002

Football Press Conference Quotes

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'Looking back at the Washington State game, it was very clear that we were in a difficult game especially on defense. We were struggling a bit and not playing as well as we had recently. As it turned out our offense scored enough points and moved the football to make 28 first downs with plenty of stuff to get the win, but we weren't able to get it. I felt responsible for not being able to get a couple of things done that we needed to get done in the game. It was a terrific football game and I think Washington State is a good team. They had a real style about that, one that's going to give them a lot of chances this season. As we turn our focus, we realize that there are six teams in the Pac-10 that have losses and that we have to take care of business. We have to win our own games. Cal is the next one up and they are a fine looking football team. Any team that can go from 1-10 to winning four games this season especially with some wins on the road, they have to be doing some wonderful things. Coach Tedford has figured it out and has turned this team around. The attitude is that they execute in all three phrases of the game. On defense, the turnover thing is ridiculous and giving their team an opportunity on offense. It's hard to get the football away from them, so take all of those things into account and they are a very good football team. Kyle Boller is the star quarterback and he is doing a good job for them, benefiting from Coach Tedford's tutelage...he has done great things with quarterbacks. It's hard to imagine that they can turn it around and be this effective so quickly. Our hands are full in all phases of the game and we are really going to have to work our butts off to get these guys. They play well on the road, so that is not a big factor against them. It's going to be a challenging week. We are going to have to move the ball and keep it away from them. We will have to do what we have in terms of the time of possession and first downs to keep them off the field. They have scored a lot of points in the first half, so you know they are a fast start football team. We will have to counter that and play it out. It's exciting and big-time Pac-10 matchup. We have a couple of games at home so we will see if we can get going here.'

(talking about this year's Cal squad compared to last year...)

'Joe is a really talented kid. He makes plays and does good things and gives them a little spark in the backfield. That's one element they didn't have last year when we played them. I think we can see that Boller is more efficient this year. I think the system has helped them well. Defensively, they were aggressive last year in an attacking style and switched some guys around, especially in the secondary, and it looks like it helped them. They are playing an aggressive coverage style to go along with what they are doing up front. Both of their tackles are good. The new attitude has shown that it can have a big-time effect. Their staff has done a remarkable job. They will continue to be the Cinderella story in the conference this year.'

(talking about kicking game...)

'Again, we have gone back after doing well in the Oregon State game and struggled at Washington State. The focus of the kicking game is just the kicks we have had problems and have not had any consistency. We just continue to work at it and keep the competition going on at the spot. Hopefully, we can get it all worked out. The mechanics of our kicks and the way we have done things is not the problem, we just have to kick the ball through the uprights. The guys have to be confident and find that sense to stay on track. Both of our kickers are very effective and can be good kickers. Right now, for whatever reason, they have just been inconsistent so we just need to stay at it. We need to keep them in a good mindset.'

'Last year, David Davis did a great job and lead the Pac-10. For whatever reason, he wasn't as consistent early this season. We go to Ryan Killeen who lights it up a little bit and then stumbles a bit. Why is it so difficult? I don't know, but I think we have good kids. We just have to find a way to keep them consistent. The best way is to keep the competition on and let the guys fight it out. We have to count on them to come through. We are fortunate to have two guys to be able to fight for the spot. I think it's typical for guys at that position at all levels to lose their edge from time to time. David has been a solid kicker, but for whatever reason, he has been struggling. We will just keep battling and see if we can get these guys on track.'

(talking about status of Troy Polamalu...)

'He's really sore. We kept him out of practice yesterday. It's going to be close for Saturday. It's questionable for this game right now. We are just going to take it on a day-by-day basis and see how he is doing. He is so well versed in what we do; I think he can play well enough to help us without a whole lot of work this week. We won't push him until the last part of the week and see how he does and responds.'

(talking about play of Kareem Kelly...)

'He caught eight balls last week and did a good job for us. We didn't get the ball down to him. I'm pleased that he is catching the ball and making the play. We are not trying to make stars of anyone, we are trying to win. Whatever we can do to get the ball to our guys in the context of moving the ball. If our guys are coming through, they are doing a good job. I think he's playing solid football. We need three solid receivers in a lot of key situations and those guys are doing a good job. I think Keary Colbert is doing a very good job and is consistent. Mike Williams has been flashy and has big-play potential with a lot of upside. This guy is a raw talent and we are trying to bring him along as quickly as we can. He's been a factor. It's a matter of time that Kareem will come out and make some huge plays for us. We expect that to happen soon.'

(talking about any surprises with the team this season...)

'The conference started much like you would think. I don't think anyone really knows who the top dog will be. We have to get through some matchups and see how it will all settle. I think everyone will have a chance to beat others in the conference. It will be difficult for a team to separate from the rest of the conference. As far as us, I'm disappointed that in the two opportunities that we had late in games to win didn't come through for us. We have a lot of the right ingredients to play well at the end to win with our experience. It's not a shock that Jason Gesser was able to put another great game for Washington State. He was on fire against Cal. We weren't able to knock them down up there. I'm a little concerned about that part of it because I would like to have thought that we could have won those kinds of games this year. We just have to see how we finish these games off.'

(talking about difference between Washington State's Jason Gesser and Cal's Kyle Boller...)

'Jason Gesser is a very unusual quarterback. He's not a strong-arm thrower, not the kind of guy that is a lights-out, throws one after another. He just makes it happen and gives the ball to the right guy and stays out of trouble. He is not a classic, strong-arm quarterback. I was impressed he could do that on us. Boller is much more of a classic quarterback. He's a big, strong kid who has put on a lot of weight from last year. He's physical and runs the ball well. He can gun it when he has to do that. He fits well in their offensive system. He's at the top of his game right now and has been effective.'

California Head Coach Jeff Tedford

(talking about program's quick turnaround from last year's 1-10 season...)

'Anytime that you work hard, you have to expect that your work will pay off. I think the key is that our kids have really bought into things and have done a good job of working and being committed to what we are trying to get done. They have played very hard and well together. To play as a team is a key for us as I don't think it was that apparent in the past.'

(talking about timetable for the program...)

'No, I really didn't. I have been asked that question a lot. I had no timetable, just a week-to-week basis. We wanted to focus one day at a time and prepare to the best of our ability. Hopefully, that's good enough for each week. As far as wins and losses, we just said we will take care of the little things every week and, hopefully, they will pay off for us.'

(talking about quarterback Kyle Boller...)

'Kyle really dedicated himself, both physically and mentally, to this season. He has done a great job of grasping the offense in a short period of time. He gained 20 pounds in the off-season. He's physical and worked very hard on his mechanics. We worked on it to make him more efficient. It's an ongoing process and continues to work on it. He's very coachable and works hard at what he's doing. I'm very happy that he's having some success.'

(talking about team's opportunistic defense...)

'That's been the real key for our team on offense, defense and special teams that have been able to take the ball away and get some turnovers. We talk about that every day at practice, trying to get the ball and have a high level of consciousness about the football. They have been doing a nice job in the other team's territory, so it's given us a short field to work with on offense.'

(talking about transition from being an offensive coordinator to head coach...)

'It's been fine, not much has changed. I still spend a majority of my time working on the offense and turn the defense over to Coach Gregory. I don't get involved in that at all. Handling some administrative items is really the only difference. As a coordinator, you are used to just addressing the offense where now you address the whole team. It's been fine and enjoyable. There is a great coaching staff here. I enjoy being around them and they enjoy being around each other. That makes it worth it when you have a good staff around you.'

(talking about USC...)

'Watching them on USC, they are unbelievably talented. Their defense may be the best I have seen. They are so physical and fast. Coach Carroll does a great job of scheming. They are excellent. They are talented on offense with a lot of big-play potential. There are really no holes on the team. Pete has them playing really well. They look like the best team that we have played on tape, without a doubt.'

(talking about progression of Boller now compared to seeing him during his time as Oregon's offensive coordinator...)

'He did not have much of a chance from when I saw him. Every year, they probably led the conference in sacks. I think he was a little shell-shocked. I think playing as a true freshman and not having much success. It shook his confidence a little bit. That has been something that we have had to try and address. Some of the things with his mechanics, I think, he has been able to work on and become more efficient. He is a tremendous talent and a great kid. He's a great competitor and very tough. The greatest thing about Kyle is through the lack of success he has had here, he has never laid blame on anyone. He has pretty much been the brunt of it because he was so highly recruited and hasn't been that successful. He's a quality person and deserves the success he is having.'

(talking about Boller compared to other quarterbacks he has coached like Trent Dilfer, Akili Smith and Joey Harrington...)

'Kyle's arm strength is phenomenal, better than any of those other guys. Each one of them brought something special to the table. Trent did an excellent job and was a gifted athlete. The guys at Oregon were very good players themselves. Kyle has the competitiveness and is very tough with tremendous talent. Now he is realizing that if he stays with proper fundamentals, he can understand how good he can be. He is into it and prepares very hard.'

(talking about getting wins against Top 20 opponents...)

'Those were huge wins for us. The Michigan State win was something that really gave our team a lot of confidence and that we can go and win a game in a hostile environment. This last week, going to Washington, I guess there was a lot of negative history that I wasn't aware of until the game. We talked about the 19-game losing streak and their 17 home-game winning streak and I wasn't really interested because it had nothing to do with this team. Afterwards, being able to reflect on those things, I was really proud of this team for that. Now that's over and Sunday it was time to move on. It did a lot for our kids because in the last few years, they haven't had a lot to be happy about it. It's good to see them upbeat and having fun coming to practice. USC poses so many problems and is such a traditional football team. What they are doing right now is unbelievable. They are just awesome and talented. We have another challenge with a team who on tape I think is the best team we have played.'

(talking about retaining running backs coach Ron Gould to this year's staff...)

'More than anything, I had known Ron from a time we had interviewed him up in Oregon. I had been around him a little bit. I had always heard great things about him. He's great with the kids and does a very good job with recruiting. He held together this last recruiting class when there was a lot of transition. He was the one who continued to work very hard at it, which he could have just let go since he didn't know whether or not he had a job here. I think to have him on the staff is not just to gain background on last year's team, but it has helped. We don't ask a lot about what happened last year because that really means nothing to us. He gave us background on our kids which really helped.'

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