Pete Carroll-Mike Stoops Football Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 9, 2004

Nov. 9, 2004

Football Press Conference Quotes

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'We are excited about where we are right now. We survived our road adventures and put ourselves in a position after the Oregon State game to come back here and finish the season at home. We have the opportunity this week to claim a portion of the Pac-10 championship. It's really fun for us after all of these games to now have an opportunity to play for a Rose Bowl bid. It's an incredible accomplishment for us. We love that chance. We have to do a tremendous job in preparation this week to focus and get our job done. We need to have a great Tuesday. The team is excited about it. Yesterday's work was energizing. We got a lot ahead of us and haven't done anything yet, but we have a chance to make a step towards having a successful season by how we carry ourselves. We are happy to be home.'

(conditions during the Washington State and Oregon State games)

'It was an adventure for both games. They had their own flavor with the conditions. I was proud with how we dealt with the conditions that faced us and then dealt with them well. This past game, we were in a snake pit. Oregon State was ready for an upset and they had the crowd with them. For us to get through that and to deal with the fog just made it a great win for us. It might not have been in the manner that people would have expected, but I was proud that we were faced with adversity and came through to get a win. I looked at that road swing after three straight home games as a challenge for us. It's time to take the next step.'

(grinding down an opponent during the game)

'We have had great success late in games and hopefully, we can continue that late in the season. There is no question that we have finished really well and I can only attribute it to the competitiveness of the guys and the preparation throughout the offseason with the mentality created by (strength and conditioning) Coach (Chris) Carlisle. Our guys are just ready to finish games. At halftime last week, our guys were primed and ready to get out. We got out early and ready to go. They knew what was at stake and what we had to do. The physical qualities needed with the conditioning have always been there. I can't tell you a phase or aspect of the program that I am more proud or more excited about, but it's happened to this point and we have to keep going out and see it to the end.'

'One of the great emphasis that we have is about finishing. We talk in terms that this is the finish of the season, this is the fourth quarter this year. It has kind of come out through the offseason program about what Chris has done. It's just hammered into these guys and they take great pride in it. They are going to finish drills and days and weeks and games. Now we have to finish the season. I love the mentality that we have. I had no idea when we started that it would come through like this. I'm hoping we can continue to display that.'

(Reggie Bush)

'He is more of an impact on our team than any single player of any team that I have been on. I have seen some other players who have carried a game as an opponent you hold your breath in preparation for it every time the ball goes his way. Just in this past game, Oregon State did a great job of keeping the ball away with Reggie, but he still got them. It's a real tribute to his impact is how his own team watches him. They can't wait to see what he is going to do next. They are so respectful and in awe of his abilities every time he goes out there. It just adds to the element of energy on our football team. Way back when I first saw Reggie on the practice field during the first week, I called one of my buddies and got a film from the NFL of an old highlight reel with Gayle Sayers just to throw it out. Reggie knows that because Gayle was always my favorite open-field guy, big-play guy when I was growing up. I wanted to throw it out there to Reggie. When you look back at Gayle's numbers, he carried the ball 15 times, have a punt and kickoff return and a few receptions. Those are the kind of numbers that Reggie puts together. As a college player, he doesn't have to carry the ball 30 times to have an impact. You just get the ball in his hands a number of ways and things happen. We weren't really show what he was going to be like on our field, but it only took a few days to see that our players had to play quicker just to have a chance to lay a hand on him. He elevated the level of our pursuit. We knew we had something special.'

(Shaun Cody)

'He has meant a tremendous amount to us. (USC defensive line coach Ed) Orgeron and I can remember the first day that we met him in school. We talked to him about being the leader in the start of a new program and positioned him to be the guy that could set the pace of how you could approach coming to USC with the mentality to play. At the time, we talked about how he could be a freshman All-American and be this and that. I was recruiting at the time, but Shaun made it all come through. He has been a guy that we referred to every offseason during recruiting. He has lived up to the billing. He is a great competitor and fun to have on your team. His play has been accented by the play from teammate Mike Patterson. Those two guys are a 1-2 punch and you don't know who is one or two. They are great players. Shaun was chosen captain by his teammates for all the right reasons. He has just been a pillar in this program, hard work, loves the game and doing what the coaches want you to do. He carries the message for us. One of the special aspects that Shaun has is the more critical the time during the game, the more he shows up whether it's blocking a field goal or making a play on the quarterback. He has been that guy who has come through when we need him throughout his career. He has been a great Trojan.'

(young secondary)

'This past game, Eric (Wright) was forced to play as a starter when Kevin Arbet went down and played well against a good throwing football team. He met the challenges for the most part. He has had a great introduction to becoming a starter. We have played him a lot, in and out of some difficult situations. He has had some hard times, but he has grown from them. He's a talented kid, great speed and athlete. All of those abilities come in with his play. He's just now cracking into the starting lineup. I'll be interested to see how he progresses. Terrell Thomas has been a good competitor, who has been hampered by shoulder problems. He just found a way to get through it. He is a good-sized kid who runs well and made a couple of big plays. He is kind of cracking into the lineup as well. The future looks like those two kids can be really nice players for us.'

(preparing for Arizona)

'This goes back to how we have always approached things. This is as serious of a football game as we can imagine. We are playing for the championship right now. It didn't matter whether we were playing in Pullman or Corvallis or the Coliseum, these games are enormous opportunities for us. This game, when you have an opportunity to put yourself in the Rose Bowl, I can't imagine that you can get any more emphasis than that. Our kids will look at the film and see a team that is coached well and plays hard. They have good, quality players that can make things happen. I'm not one bit worried about our preparation. They are well-equipped. Coach Stoops knows exactly what he is doing with their defense. They make it hard on you. They pressure you well. They are well ahead of where we were at this time in our first year.'

(secondary depth issues)

'Ronald Nunn should make it back this week, which will help us. He can jump back into Kevin's role. We have a couple of plans going and we will be alright.'

(mid-majors and the BCS)

'Utah and Boise State play great football. Hopefully, they can go as far as their seasons can take them. I have seen them play on TV and they are fantastic football teams, they can play with anyone in the country. You give them half an opportunity, they are going to snatch a great season this year. I don't know what that means in terms of the BCS.'

(preparing for a night game, compared to a day game)

'The first four hours, the guys just go catatonic, lay in bed and don't do anything. When we kick into the regimen of the day, then they are on. A lot of kids can't sleep the night before so it gives them a chance to sleep during the day. I share that problem, so we try to take advantage of it by getting a lot of rest. It's exciting to play in the Coliseum under the lights. These guys will be revved up and ready to go. We had some good energy about us last week at Oregon State.'

(status of wide receiver Steve Smith)

'The trainers and doctors have said that it's a likely chance for him to come back (by the Notre Dame game). He feels good. It's the wise thing to wait through the bye week and take advantage of the opportunity. We would love to have him to finish the season.'

(prospects of NFL head coaching positions like the Miami Dolphins)

'It just doesn't figure into my thinking at all. It can figure into it in a young recruit's mind and obviously, people in recruiting can try to swirl that around, but I'm not interested.'

(weaknesses on the current team)

'We are not taking care of the football. The last couple of weeks, we have given the ball up too many times and it almost cost us. That's a major concern because it's the number one emphasis in our program. I'm concerned that we aren't getting the results that we need right now. That's the biggest concern because that can cause a loss for us.'

Arizona Head Football Coach Mike Stoops

'I think our win at Washington last week was significant for a number of reasons. We worked extremely hard over the last 10, 11 months and to see us have an opportunity to see some of that hard work pay off for our kids validates our efforts. We had to fight through some adversity. We got off to a great start. We lost the lead, but continued to keep playing. I think we are showing signs of being a stronger team mentally and showing some more toughness and character, which we definitely needed. I like the way that our kids have played throughout the year. We have had some opportunities to win some guys where we just weren't quite good enough at the end. We have competed most of the year and I think they have gained confidence throughout the year, seeing that they are competing at a better level and gaining confidence. Hopefully, it's a start to greater things.

(quarterback change)

'Kris Heavner had struggled early in the year and we felt that Richard (Kovalcheck) might give us a spark, some better quarterback play. Richard has been a little bit better. We are still struggling in throwing the football consistently, that's been our Achilles heel all year. I think we have run the ball well through the course of the year. Anytime you run the ball decently, it should hopefully open up some opportunities to throw the ball. We really haven't had good wide receiver play either so those two things have really prohibited us from being a good offensive team.'

(defense)

'I think we have gotten better. You see our kids get more comfortable in the system as we move forward. They are starting to play with more confidence. I think our secondary is starting to regroup and make some plays again. Those young corners are getting better. Darrell Brooks has played great all year as well as Lamon Means. We are playing two freshman corners, one a true freshman Antoine Cason from the L.A. area, who has done a great job.'

(experiences as a first-year head coach)

'It's a learning experience no matter how much you think you are prepared. In all the experience I had at Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa, it definitely helped me prepare. You have to experience some things and I have learned a great deal as I move through this process. It's been fun and I enjoy it. You see the progress even though the media or fans sometimes don't see it. I see that we have made a great deal of progress throughout the course of the 11 months that I have been here. The first year is always difficult in terms of changing attitudes of players and the work ethic. We desperately needed to change some things, but it's gratifying to see our kids change and really work hard week in and out. If you watch us, I think you can see that we are well prepared every time we step on the field and have an opportunity to do some good things. Sometimes, you just aren't good enough and I think our kids are becoming more accountable and realistic in what we expect day in and out. It's nothing that a lot of hard work can't overcome and that's what we have tried to build this program on. I think we are making up ground on a lot of people.'

(this week's game against USC)

'I think it's a tremendous challenge. It's exciting anytime you play the number one team. I think our kids will be excited to play. They understand what they are going up against. They have played this team before and hopefully, they feel that this year we have a better opportunity to compete and win if we do some things right. Obviously, we have to get some breaks early and play flawless football to play with Southern Cal. We have shown signs that we can do that. If we continue to hurt ourselves and let them, especially their special teams and guys like Reggie Bush get going, it will disintegrate. We need to play very good football and give ourselves some confidence, hopefully hang in there early. They are an extremely talented team across the board with a great coaching staff. They make you work and execute on every down. That's what I like about watching them. You better play well or it will be a long night.'

(effectiveness of USC defensive lineman Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson)

'They have been disruptive for a long time. They are two tremendous players and have been good for many years. USC has one of the best defensive lines in college football. They get so much penetration that they disrupt your running game and passing game. We are going to have to be physical at the line of scrimmage and hopefully, slow those guys down a bit. We need to scheme things well to give ourselves an opportunity to move the ball.'

(Pete Carroll's comment on Arizona being ahead of where USC was in Carroll's first year)

'I wasn't here at the time, but I watched him reconstruct that thing from when I was at Oklahoma. Anytime you take over a program, there are a lot of similarities being at a place like USC reminds more of when we were at Oklahoma in terms of being able to recruit great athletes. You can make that change rather quickly and they have done a great job of building that program quickly, a lot like how we did at Oklahoma. It's hard like I said because you inherit some problems, but we are doing the best we can with what we got. Our kids play hard and that's all you can do right now. I understand you have to have vision beyond what goes on day in and out. I think we have done some good things and we are showing progress in certain areas. Some things are tough to overcome without talent and that's something we will continue to work on. You get better by recruiting great players and that's where we desperately need to have a great year in recruiting.'

(collaborating with his brother, Bob, if Oklahoma faces USC in the Orange Bowl)

'(laughing) I doubt it. We are going to do what we do. USC is probably going to have an advantage because we are similar to Oklahoma in a lot of ways. We do a lot of things the way Coach Carroll does there. He has been a great defensive coach. I have really admired him from afar. He reminds me a lot of my brother, Bob, in a lot of ways. He has a great demeanor with his players. They play with a great attitude and they have fun. That's what great teams do. They respond to their coach and they are a fun team to watch. It would be a great matchup to win. They are two very talented football teams that really have no great weaknesses as you watch them play.'

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