USC-Washington Press Conference Quotes
Oct. 19, 2004
USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll
'We are kicking off the second half of the season with another big game here at the Coliseum. This is an opportunity for us to get things going. It's real important to our team how we finish. This is kind of the beginning of the finish for us. This first game against Washington is one that we are going after. I know (Washington) has had some problems getting to this point. Washington has shown enough spark in games to make us concerned about what they can do to us with their offense, particularly what they showed late in the Oregon State game with (quarterback) Isaiah Stanback with the option game. As always, our focus is about us and what we are going to do to practice well this week. Our players will be challenged to maintain the standards that we have set for ourselves. I can't wait to get going this week.'
(offense in the Arizona State game)
'There was a marvelous energy in the Coliseum just from the opening kickoff with Justin Tolliver's big hit. It started things off. The first defensive series was perfect where we got them to third and 20. We ran them off the field, got the ball at midfield and the offense goes right down and answers with the first opportunity. The energy was just so high that we looked like we were on a different level than them. It continued throughout the first half. It wasn't any one sign during the week. It was just the way we prepared and took the game seriously. Our guys came down the tunnel cranked up and ready to go. They didn't let up until it was over. I think there were a couple of things that were exciting about the game. I think Dwayne Jarrett showed up with a big game. The way we were able to run aggressively really well with LenDale White, along with Reggie Bush being a factor in many areas. Dominique Byrd gave us a big spark with his play. Our confidence is high and our guys feel good about what we are doing. It's a basic approach of what we did offensively.'
'It's always good for guys to get a chance to get into the game. Guys are chomping at the bit to get in there. We didn't get a lot of throwing opportunities in the game, but for them to get into the game was good. There were a lot of things to come out. It helps everyone's spirits.'
(subtle things about the ASU game)
'Our defensive line was really hot. I think the way we are mixing Manuel Wright and Shaun Cody at end has given us some more stuff. Manny has made a lot of plays for us. He is a factor. Our under coverage by the linebackers was really good. Lofa Tatupu was all over the place. He had three balls in the first quarter that he knocked down and had a chance to pick off. He has marvelous instincts in her coverage ability. The interception (by Matt Grootegoed) was something that we had talked about on the sideline that they were doing and make sure to not let them throw to that route and we had four guys trying to pick the ball off. That was a strong aspect of the game. I think our linebackers played very well.'
(freshman linebacker Keith Rivers)
'Keith is doing really well. We are very comfortable with him. He plays in the first quarter of every game and is in the rotation during the game. He plays on third down and we are using him on special teams. He is making a major contribution. He will only get better and room for him to improve. He has lightning quickness. Hopefully, we can get him to where he is playing as a regular during the second half of the season.'
(freshman wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett)
'Dwayne is really all we could have hoped for. We were hoping (after the loss of Mike Williams) to put another guy into that kind of role. Dwayne can do all of the things that Mike can do. They are very similar. Dwayne is a little lighter right now, but he will catch up. He has great catching range. He can get off his feet or catch low balls. He's got tremendous one-hand ability and great extension that you haven't seen yet, but we see it all the time in practice. Now that his confidence has grown and is comfortable with the game, the thing I like about him is his ability to compete and battle. He has taken a big step in the last couple of weeks, not just last week. What he did last week, I thought, was pretty normal for what he is going to do. I don't think it was a game where he played out of his head. He is going to catch eight, nine or 10 balls a game and make a lot of touchdowns. He will be exciting for us.'
(Carson Palmer and the Heisman Trophy)
'It was really emotional for Carson (to win it) after several years of struggling...to come out of the ashes and finish on a high note to take us to a whole new level of the program. That was really fun for us. He played so well down the stretch to earn it. I don't believe in campaigning. I don't think that's what it's about. I think a guy plays, represents his team and if his team plays well...it comes together and you earn that. Carson did exactly that. I would never go the other way and not help our kids. It's not the right focus. We are in a situation now where there are guys in consideration. I'm proud of that and our program. It has no impact on us other than the fact that they are getting attention. There is no question that Matt (Leinart) has a lot of interest in it. There is also no question that Reggie (Bush) is one of the most valuable players in the country. He is doing it game in and out. What does that have to do with the Heisman? It really doesn't matter to me. When it comes down to the final three or four games in the season and those guys are being considered, they will play their ways into that. We won't adjust anything. The cool thing about is that it happened. It happens when good guys work with the team, it all comes together and things are right. I don't see this as a campaign or election...I see it as an observation of somebody's performance on a team and hopefully, our guys are in consideration at the end.'
(keeping the BCS off the minds of the players)
'People keep asking about it. We will figure it out at the end. I know this is fun for everybody and it's topical. We will go along with whatever it says at the end. The control factor for us is to go play the game to win.'
(team focus concerning the BCS)
'I don't like something outside here dictating how we feel or how we act. I can't say that everyone thinks like that, but I'm trying to get it that way because I just don't think it matters. All of a sudden, it matters at the end. We will get concerned with it when that final thing comes out.'
(feelings when USC finished No. 3 in last year's BCS)
'I'm almost embarrassed to tell you that my son had to tell me what happened. He had to kind of explain it to me. From that point on, it was `what does this mean?' and `where does this position us?' and I loved the opportunity we got and we maximized it.'
'Matt is a fantastic, instinctive football player. He has incredible sense and he's really tough. He is a vicious hitter. It's in his nature to want to nail guys, but more than that, he just grew up with a great playmaking mentality. He is always going after the football and has great hands. He can make these great interceptions and transitions into a ball carrier that takes it down the field. I have learned that he was one of the best high school players around here because his innate ability to play the game with great intensity and toughness. He will play at the next level. There are some people that love what he's got. He is an unusual athlete with extraordinary strength. He has a wrestling background and that mentality helps with tackling. He's a terrific guy to be coaching.'
(watching former players play in the NFL)
'It's really fun and rewarding. We have most of our guys on bye weeks come back here to check in with us. It's a treat to see them. (Minnesota defensive end) Kenechi Udeze came back and was just like a little kid in a candy store in the NFL. He is so thrilled about his opportunity to play. It is a great reward. The wonderful thing is that they dream so much about being there that when it comes true, they get to really do some stuff. (Pittsburgh defensive back) Troy Polamalu has been a factor...he has been all over the place. It's great to see him make his plays. I feel for (Cincinnati quarterback) Carson (Palmer) and dying with him that they can't quite get it going. We are pulling for him. We showed the highlight when Troy picked off Carson. We keep the current players abreast of what's going on.'
(recent success in the second half of the season)
'We hope that characteristic will be realized again. I love that aspect of our program. I'm trying to maximize our ability to play well in the second half. That's why the Washington game is so important to get started. You can't look forward two games and maintain your focus. You can't look towards what could happen towards the end of the season. You have to stay right in there as far as I'm concerned. That's how we do this and if we were able to do it again, it would make me proud. Finishing strong is something we take great pride in and I'm hoping we are able to turn it on and get it going.'
(preventing overconfidence on the team)
'I almost don't have an answer for that. I know it's out there. The media is constantly challenging our guys about that. We don't go there. Our deal is about today and what we have to handle. It's about our first meeting and then the next meeting and further down the line. I know that might not sound that's the real deal, but that's what we are doing. We are maximizing the moment. We try to get better and squeeze every last drop out of every opportunity. We take it day to day and if we do that, we did well and then come back and do it all over again. I have to stay on that focus. These guys don't know any other way as far as I can tell. We are committed to what we are doing. I'm looking for signs and if they pop up, we will corral it and not let it happen. That's our challenge every day on a moment to moment basis.'
'They have had a great program. They were the winningest program in the 90s. That's a pretty significant statement to make. They definitely have the elements it takes to have a great program. I'm sure those guys are working their tails off to get it right. They are trying to turn it around and get it going. This is a great opportunity for them. I understand that. They get to come down here. I know their players are excited about it. We have to get ready and do our part. They have the potential to be a great program.'
Washington Head Football Coach Keith Gilbertson
'I would say turning the ball over and our age has been a factor for our start. We pretty much started over in a lot of positions and do not have a big senior class. We have just lost a lot of guys (due to injury). Some seasons go like that, but we have had an abnormal amount of bad luck.'
(positive aspects of the team)
'Sometimes you are reluctant to say anything because people don't believe you, but I think our kids have played hard all the time and competed as well as they can. They have had a lot of bad luck. We try to hang in there and compete. I think we have done that. Our numbers are way down in a lot of categories, so we have had a tough go of it.'
'We have used three guys because we have had to do that. We are still waiting to see what Carl Bonnell's situation is today and Isaiah Stanback is a fine athlete. Carl and Isaiah have a lot of similarities. Casey Paus is more of a drop-back thrower, perhaps not as athletic as those two guys...but he has more experience. Casey has been in our system for a long time.'
'At times, we have done well, but other times we have given up big plays. We will play well for a large number of snaps, particularly in the running game, but then we give up a long run out of nowhere. I would say that defensively the thing that has plagued us is a big play and not getting the job done on third down and getting them off the field.'
'You are playing the best team in the country and a team loaded with talent. They are well-coached and steeped in tradition. They are playing super football.'