Pete Carroll Spring Practice Press Conference
April 15, 2005
USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll
'The primary objective for us is going into the spring is to recapture the competitiveness that allows you to improve and reach the kind of levels that we need. These guys came out on fire. I remember the first day when it was raining hard and we came out and played well. We have really battled out there. The coaches really set the bar high with their intensity. I'm really pleased. We competed every day and it's given us the kind of environment on the practice field that we need to get better. We went into the spring with some question marks with the first being the new coaching staff. It's worked out beautifully. All indications are we have been able to move forward. We have been able to create some new things in all phases and solidify things that have worked for us in the past. The transition with Pat Ruel and David Watson on the offensive line did a good job of capturing this group. Steve Sarkisian has come in like he has not missed a beat and has worked well with Lane Kiffin to coordinate this thing and move forward.'
'Our quarterback situation was another question mark. John David Booty could be our starting quarterback right now if we had to go to him. He has proven that day in and out. He can make all the throws and has gained the confidence of his teammates and staff with his consistency. Rocky Hinds got tons of work and expedited his challenge for the future. Rocky has made some great plays and made it competitive. Chauncey Washington was a big factor. He will be able to make plays for us...run, block and catch the ball for us. He was one of the outstanding performers for us this spring. We talked about having 10 guys on the offensive line that could play for us now and rotating them. Winston Justice looks by far the best he has ever been. That's a positive for us. Brandon Hancock is the best he has ever been in terms of blocking and catching the ball out of the back. As an offense that returns a lot of players, we have the chance to get better. We will wait to see how Matt Leinart's rehab will take shape this summer. We had huge losses up the middle defensively. We made our efforts to move a lot of guys in and out of the lineup. Sedrick Ellis has played tremendous football. His ability to play at a level that can replace Mike Patterson...he will be productive. It's still a competition at Shaun Cody's spot between LaJuan Ramsey and Fili Moala. Travis Tofi will play there as well to give us some more looks. We played well against the run and were able to execute our game plan. Keith Rivers jumping in for Matt Grootegoed...he will be a big factor. He has a lot of experience to gain. Oscar Lua and Ryan Powdrell and Thomas Williams have all rotated through the Mike linebacker spot and have not settled the issue. We will continue to figure that out. A few freshmen will vie for that spot. Scott Ware had a fantastic spring. He played like a starter. He would be our free safety right now. Josh Pinkard did a great job at both spots. It was fun to watch Kevin Ellison emerge as a competitor. He is way ahead of the curve. Darnell Bing got some work done in the spring. The next time out, he will be ready to go. The corner position with the injuries we had, Justin Wyatt finally got some reps. Terrell Thomas had a great spring. We are happy with Terrell. We will count on our young guys next fall. It's worked out well as we have played some solid football. I'm happy with the development. Tom Malone punted the heck out of the football and the long snapper competition is ongoing. Mario Danelo had a nice spring and did a good job with his placement kicking. He comes to camp with the thoughts that he will be the leading candidate. We have kids coming in during the fall that will have a chance to make some noise for us.'
(on players with academic issues being low on the depth chart)
'They need to take care of their business and work their way back up the chart. It's going to be a challenge to get them all back, but we will see what happens.'
(on incoming quarterback Mark Sanchez)
'We saw Mark and his willingness to participate. He has such a great aptitude for the game. This is how we exactly had planned it. He has done everything that he could possibly do to be here. He will have a chance to come out here in the fall and compete for the job. He has the terminology down. We just have to see how fast he can incorporate it. With the opportunity that John David and Rocky had, Mark is going to get a lot of work. He is going to be a fantastic competitor. There's no reason to think that we would redshirt him immediately. Our attitude is to let him go after it and see what happens. I think it would be selling him short if we thought that now. He is such a talented kid...who knows, maybe he moves up the chart.'
(on getting meaningful snaps for John David Booty)
'If everything stays the way it does right now, I would love for John to get into the games. We are going to mix what we are doing. We are not going to bring John David in just to hand the ball off. He can play. I would love to see him play in every game.'
(on health of Matt Leinart)
'We are going to expect that he is fine. He is no worse off than he was. With the surgery, we just have to wait it out. There should be some improvement and have less discomfort. He will throw right through it and be right where he was last year by the end of the summer.'
(on how good the offense could be)
'The offense should improve. The offensive line, a year ago, had never played. They played the whole season and have been through camp together. They are now a savvy and experienced group. That should help us. We will adjust more quickly and communicate better. Pat Ruel has done a great job raising the expectations of this group. Our confidence in our ability to handle the offense is high.'
(on offseason distractions)
'If you could only realize from the outside how important it is for us to continue to stay on track and keep negative issues from arising...coaches are sharing those ideas because everyone wants things to happen in the right manner. We are challenged by it and we continue to hammer the message. It's no different than the way we handle things on the field and in the classroom. We need our guys to maintain their conscious through all of their lives. We have to be responsible so we can continue to direct the program into the right direction. It's important for us. We see it in all walks of life. Making mistakes doesn't make it okay or that we should accept it. It's like being a parent. We try to do everything we can to make it clear to them how they should operate. You are never really at ease. It's not different when you have a full team. The responsibility is enormous and we realize that we can send out the right message. We just have to keep working to get it done. We try to use other situations around the country as a message of how to steer clear of issues and problems that can arise. It's ongoing. For anyone to think that any coach at any level does not care about it...they just don't get it. It's like parenting. You are always afraid that something is going to go in the wrong direction. We always take the hit when something bad happens. We talked about it yesterday to the team about how fortunate we are to be in the situation we are in right now and what comes along with it...if you can handle it, you have to get out of here. We need to do what is right.'
(on cornerback Eric Wright)
'I don't have any new information or tell you where it stands. We have to look at both sides of things. We have to figure out who his replacement is if he doesn't come back. If a guy comes back, then you work with that when the time comes. There is no question that a freshman or newcomer could step into that position and play right away. Will Poole was an example of that. We have two incoming freshmen, Kevin Thomas and Cary Harris, that we are counting on right away in the fall.
(on mindset of winning three straight national championships)
'This is a great challenge because of the attention. Our mindset should not vary. The questions will change, but our mindset is clear. We have grown comfortable with being in this environment. We are going to get the attention and focus. We went through the whole season last year as the No. 1 team in the nation and I would expect that we would be ranked highly this season. That's part of it and we deal with it as we normally do. We are not concerned about the hype and the future. The rankings are meaningless at the start of the season. You prove your worth as the season goes from week to week. To start the season and worrying about stuff like that is ridiculous. We go about our business in a normal fashion. We try to get to the first game and get a win...we go to the second game and try to get a win. That is how we have done it. That doesn't change at all. I have to look for the signs when we aren't doing it. Guys come in and think they don't have to work as hard...that is when we move them around the depth chart. I had a chance to talk to (former UCLA basketball head coach John) Wooden the other day and asked him about the question of repeating. He brought up the point that people on the outside think it's more difficult to repeat and he was clear that he thought it's harder to get there than to hold it. After last year's experience, I couldn't agree with him more. It takes you a long time to get a chance to be a champion. Now you just need to maintain the status of your program and I'm hoping that is what we continue to do as we go forward. I'm not looking for an easy way, but we have been there. It's really exciting.'
(on Lee Corso's comments about the 2005 Orange Bowl being one of the top college performances he has seen in the last 40 years)
'I told the players it made a really good DVD. You can put that in your back pocket if you want. I like to think it was a statement that we were able to go to a game of that magnitude and play the way we wanted to play, dealing with the issues and the buildup. I think we played like we were capable of playing. I think Oklahoma is an incredible program and great football team. We were able to do the stuff we wanted to do. I can't separate from using that as an example of what we are trying to accomplish. I continue to look for the opportunities to challenge us. Even the first game going to Hawaii this season with all of the distractions...it's good for us. We need those challenges. It's the ability to overcome them that makes us stronger. If you think back to last year, the opener with Virginia Tech was a tremendous matchup for such a young team that didn't know what they were doing. We grew from that experience. We need those experiences to have the backbone in order to put it back together again. It gives us the confidence that we know how to do it.'
(on simply outscoring opponents this year)
'I don't look at it that way and I have never thought that way. We are working really hard to make this defense as representative of the type of teams we have had in the past few years. I'm really happy with the progress we have made. We still have some question marks and experience issues right now. This team is structured to play solid defense and make it hard for people to score. We are going to take the ball away from people and run on them. We have to do our part on defense to play well.'
(on former players in upcoming NFL draft)
'I know our guys will do well when they get to camp. They will compete like crazy. It will be interesting to see if some guys are chosen in the draft or just signed as a free agent, which sometimes can be a better deal for them. I think Mike Williams has done exceedingly well to prepare himself for the NFL. He was in fantastic shape and ran well enough for a big receiver. He is such a bright kid in terms of his football ability and impressive. Teams will feel comfortable about his ability to handle the football part of it. It will be interesting statement of what was the result of him missing a season. I don't know where he will fit in the draft, but there aren't a lot of people that can score touchdowns like he can so I'm sure there are teams that are going to go after him. Mike Patterson has been a great story. He went to the Senior Bowl, went through the combine and had an incredible workout. His stock is up. There are people that really like him and think he's the best nose tackle in the draft. His style is unique so there are some two-gap teams that won't see him as an asset. Both he and Shaun Cody have made a statement.'
(on maintaining success despite coaching changes)
'I think we know what we are doing and have a way of doing things. The consistency is what brings us together. With the staff changes and the buildup, I feel like there's a stable continuity to what we are doing here. The new coaches are not coming in and trying to reinvent the wheel. They try to maximize what we are doing through their special talents. Lane Kiffin has done an incredible job with this offense. He's a big asset to us. Hopefully, I can keep Jethro Franklin abreast of what we are doing and he can add to that. In my mind, I look at this whole coaching transition as an addition and not a subtraction. We need to be stronger and the experience the new coaches bring in makes us better. It gives us a fresher look at things.'
'It's great press for (the media) in terms of coaches leaving, so how could you possibly replace that is the question. I love the challenge. We have to see if we can do it. I won't know until we get into the season. The first thing Steve Sarkisian will tell you is that he knows he has something to prove. That's what makes it fun. It's fun to undertake it. We are going to shock people that doubt us.'
'We are going to have challenges and issues...that's what this is all about. That is why you have to be solid in what you believe in and don't waver at any time. We are not flinching. Fortunately, we have established it. What we did last year, you have to put that in your back pocket. Now, you have to do it all over again. I don't know this year how we are going to do just like I didn't know last year and the year before. I do know how we are going to attack the challenges and I like our chances to be a really good team again.'
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