Pete Carroll and Mike Bellotti Press Confrence Quotes
Sept. 20, 2005
September 20, 2005- Media Luncheon
'We are really thrilled with the opportunity we had last week to come to the Coliseum and get that thing started at home and in good fashion and that so many guys got a chance to play was really a great reward to the preparation for that game. This is the first week we will play a game back-to-back, it seems like it has been a long time. We jump right into the schedule in the conference against undefeated Oregon, all pumped up, I am sure their place is going to be nuts. It is a tremendous place to play. Our guys are tuned into the importance that the conference is underway now, that doesn't mean we change what we are doing but we know that it is that time. It is exciting. There are all kinds of firsts. The first conference game, the first conference game on the road, all of those things are important to us to prepare really well and take this opportunity and show them we are prepared to do this. We want to get on the road, get a win and get back here. We look forward to this challenge. I think this is a fine looking Oregon team. (Kellen) Clemens has just taken over this team; we didn't play them last year. We saw them on field and during the season, but to see him now and to prepare for him... He is a great leader on this football team, and he does everything for them. They have plenty of guys around him to be a great football team; it is going to be a great match-up. Hopefully we will play well and be up for the task.'
On compensating for injuries the defense suffered in the Arkansas game
'This is what happens during the season. You have depth chart issues and concerns, and roster situations. We have Thomas Williams that will be jumping in for Dallas Sartz, he has been playing well, and he has played in both games and did a good job. John Walker has been rotating with the top two corners in the first two games and in camp, so that doesn't feel like it is a big step for us. It obviously challenges our depth chart. Traveling with only 64 guys in conference games also presents an additional challenge to that. So we have to be creative and practice really well. This presents an opportunity for some other guys to jump in and play front line football for the Trojans. That is how Thomas (Williams) is looking at it and John Walker is looking at it and how all of our guys do when they get a chance. It is a great opportunity for guys to get in there and do their part, we will call them in to do well and make the coaches look like they know what they are doing by playing well.'
If this is the best offense since Pete Carroll has been a coach at USC
'What I am happy about is that they are playing like they practiced. We have practice really well for some time now. Spring football and fall camp, this is what we have been seeing and the whole idea of this coaching business is to get your guys to practice their stuff and in the game they perform it. Offensively that is what happened. We were able to execute the game plan that we went in with, and Matt has done a marvelous job of allowing everybody to do what they are supposed to do. He has been giving the right opportunity with the checks and the guys are making their plays. It is the best start we have had. I feel very fortunate that we have gotten off to a good start with the new staff. It is has only been two games; it will be a long haul.'
On preparing for the game
'Do I feel like they are threatening us, and are going to give us a hard time? Absolutely, it doesn't matter who we are playing. I don't think it is because of who we have playing, I think they have a loaded up offense. They have a really good philosophy with how they run their offense. I don't think it has to do with our personnel right now. That isn't what I am concerned about. I am concerned about teaching the game plan, and executing it well so we can hopefully give them some problems. I feel pretty much the same every week about that.'
On the increased challenge of a running quarterback
'Always. Running quarterbacks are always the most difficult. That is because they can create plays after the normal play. So you defend the play they called in the huddle then, you defend the play after that breaks down, or they adjust and adapt. Clemens is real quick to take off, he has great confidence to take off and run. He has the ability to break tackles, and he isn't worried about getting hit. He is very physical at running at the quarterback spot. All of that poses a lot of problems, not to mention all of the option stuff he is doing, too. He has the ball in his hands the whole game. He is the guy, he poses a very difficult challenge for us.'
On who has stepped up to lead the defense in the absence of Dallas Sartz
'Oscar Lua, has already jumped to the front. Since he has been playing, and he has been playing well, he is in that linebacker spot. It is a key position to have a vocal guy and a guy that does take charge. Dallas is a pretty quite guy on the field although his confidence helps other guys play well, Oscar is the guy in the front doing all the yapping at them and all of that. We will kind of count on him to continue to do that. Thomas Williams is a very outgoing player as well, very fiery energetic as well. He brings some good energy to the playing field as well when he comes in. Darnell (Bing) coming back will help as well, but really the berth goes to Oscar Lua.'
If the lack of familiarity with Oregon is an issue
'I guess it could be. We had never seen Arkansas before either. You can only deal with what you have. They haven't seen us either. We both watched each other for a whole season. It isn't like we are unfamiliar totally. But we haven't been on the same field as them. It would help us both if we knew how the match-ups occurred and how we fit, but again it goes back to being equal so it is not a big factor.'
On the defensive line
'I really liked them in this last game. I think the first game was a hard game to determine that. I think this game really gave us a chance to see Sedrick (Ellis) and La Juan (Ramsey) do their stuff. They played very well, we were able to see them penetrate, get in the back field and make big plays push the pocket, chase the football. Last week playing against Arkansas' center, an All-American center, Sedrick had a very solid football game. Those are real good indicators that they are going to be able to play like they did in practice and how we hoped they would play. The consistency factor has yet to be determined with these guys, they haven't played enough to show us. Certainly in that game they played up and were very aggressive, and were factors in the outcome.'
On the possibility of Steve Smith playing corner back
'In Steve's situation, 75 percent of the time when he is on the field he is on offense. He is such a big factor right now I wouldn't want to do anything to take away from that factor. I don't want to disrupt what is going on over there. However, William Buchanon has started for us a corner before. He can quickly make some sense of it. Steve would start completely from scratch. He is a very gifted athlete, and he was a great corner and DB in high school, but that has nothing to do with what we are doing right now. I have given him a hard time about it already, but he is not coming over.
On the use of instant replay
'I am not a fan of it. I like the games to go and roll through. The call that was changed could have easily been changed, but is often called a touchdown when there isn't a replay situation, because he possessed the ball and then got it knocked out. They just didn't feel he possessed it long enough. When you look at it a second time that call will get changed. That instance of disruption on the second one, that just showed you what replay is like. However, just watching games this weekend there were a lot of games detected that needed to be fixed. In defense of replay, I watched it on television and a number of different examples of why it worked out. It just isn't as much fun in the game. You stop and hang around and chat for a while. There is some good and bad to it, I have always liked the game was and the rhythm of it and I don't like it being shifted.
On Terrence Whitehead
'He is really a good player, he proved that last year. I don't care about his yards, he is hard to tackle, he makes big plays, and he had a great screen pass run in the last game. I know he is a really good player and we need to honor what he is doing, he does keep that offense balanced, with that inside running. Without that factor then it becomes just a regular offense, which is not because of him. He is a premium player, and one of the best running backs in the conference.
On how Pac-10 teams seem to do better against USC then nationally ranked teams
'We have a unique style to what we are doing, and maybe it is hard for teams to catch up in a short time. I know that the conference knows us well. We share a lot of principles in our conference so there is carry over from week to week that I think is unique to college football and to the Pac-10. I think it is a good thing.
On memories of Autzen Stadium
'The first one (game at Autzen) was the one they won right at the end. That was the first big frustration because we had the chance to win the game, but we couldn't finish it. They did a really good job to win that game. The next time we went, the stadium had been re-done and it seemed different. After all of the renovations the crowd was bigger, and we had a big day that day. That was Justin Fargas's break out day. That was exciting for us, which helped us find ourselves, with our run and pass game. It has helped us ever since. We have had one of the most frustrating losses, and we have had a good win there, so we have been on both sides of it. I do have a sense of what the stadium is going to be like and being able to help the players who haven't been there understand it. It is going to be a great setting and a lot of fun.
The difference between this year and last year's squad:
'We probably came in with a hungrier attitude, we changed our offensive attack and I think it is paying dividends. I think it is more comfortable for our quarterback Kellen Clemens, it fits his talents and energy better. We are scoring more points, that is the bottom line, and we are scoring enough points to win. We have had some areas on special teams and defense that we need to improve upon, and we need to do that in a hurry because USC is a very potent offensive attack. I like the demeanor of this football team, the character of this football team. It was challenged last week against Fresno State, we were down 17-0 in our own stadium and fairly efficiently and coolly and calmly went into a huddle and turned the thing around. Fresno State is a good football team, they are worthy of their ranking, they were nationally ranked at that time. Houston is a pretty explosive offensive football team. I think we learned some things from that, that we need to put into practice this week. Overall I like the demeanor of this football team, their character, their hunger, they like each other and they play for each other real well.'
On the new offense, what Gary Crowton brings to the team
'About two years ago we played Utah, and I said wow that is an interesting offense and I think it would fit our personnel better then what we have got right now. I had Jason Fife and Kellen Clemens, at quarterback, both very mobile guys. I watched it again last year, I watched Northwestern play ASU, with a similar conceptual attack, they gave them the toughest game that they have had to date. I said we need to do this. Gary Crowton has never done that offense unfortunately, but he has done some spread passing game stuff that we have incorporated, integrated into our scheme. We are doing a little bit of old Oregon Duck football, a little bit of Utah, Bowling Green, Northwestern, a little bit of BYU, Texas Tech passing game from years past, and rolled it all into something we are calling the new Oregon offense. I am pleased with it, it is something that has been bits and pieces that has been on my desk for about two and a half years now, and now I kick myself because I think I should have done it sooner.'
On Kellen Clemens
'Kellen is the real deal. I am excited for him because he has always been a very good quarterback. His statistics have been awesome but it hasn't translated to as many wins as we would like. I am hoping it will happen that way this year. He is doing a great job running the offense. The yards and all of that comes naturally; he seems to be very much at home. It is a perfect fit for him in terms of what his strengths are. This spread attack gives him enough opportunities to run the ball, to keep the defenses honest and the option for a basis for it. It takes away some of the things that defense wants to do. It makes a recognition read for a quarterback easier, because by spreading the field it makes the defense spread and show their hand a little bit earlier or come from distance and not get there. For Kellen it has been awesome. I think he likes it and feels comfortable with it. It is my job to put our kids in a position to have success.'
On what has worked and what hasn't on the defense
'We need to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback, containing the quarterback and defending long pass plays. Those things go hand in hand. If there isn't pressure on the quarterback, then he has more time. Paul Pinegar from Fresno State who is a great quarterback, did a great job. Who I think if he wins a bowl game this year he will be the only quarterback in NCAA history to win four bowl games. He has done very well, and had a great game against us. We didn't pressure him very well, we didn't contain him very well and his receivers supported him with some great catches. We have got to be better at defending the long ball. We were in position to defend it and we just didn't make plays and that has to change because obviously we will face the same kind of dilemmas this week. There are tremendous receivers at USC and Leinart throws the ball where they can catch it. We have got to get some pressure on him, change the pocket structure a little bit, and bring pressure, mix man pressure with zone pressure, and do a better job of defending the down field pass.
On not having played USC for two years
'I think we both don't know about some of the match ups. Certainly it is going to favor USC since they are the defending national champions, and have won 24 straight. They seemingly are playing at a very high level right now. The fact that we haven't played for a couple of years doesn't factor into it. We have seen them play common opponents; I think we have a sense of that. We have to come up with a plan that contains their offense, attacks their defense and wins the battle of special teams.'
On how Pac-10 teams tend to do better against USC then nationally ranked teams
'Familiarity, just seeing the same team week in week out and recognizing certain weaknesses or USC might not be as mentally up for those games. I don't know, it is a good question, it does give me great heart, though, that the four closest games USC played last year were in this conference. It was Stanford, Oregon State, UCLA and Cal. They were some good teams that weren't the best teams in our conference by far, but gave USC a great football game. Maybe USC got their best game of the season or their best effort. We know it is going to take our best effort to get this thing done.'
On Playing at Autzen Stadium
' It is pretty loud. Our 60,000 make a lot of noise and the way the stadium is constructed I think that noise tends to reverberate down there. It is a tough place to play in that regard. Our fans do a great job of making it loud and getting the place rocking and going. Our players feed off of that kind of energy, although I think our opponents do sometimes too, so we have to be careful with that. I think it is a great place to be the home team. It is a tough place to play. It isn't any more difficult now because when it used to be Omni turf it use to be special preparation, but now we have field turf, and it is great but it is not a home field advantage. The stadium now is not any better or worse than it has been. It is loud, but no louder, even though we have added about 14 to 15,000 people. I like it, it is a great place, and it is home. I am sure it will be an exciting place to play this Saturday.'
On Terrence Whitehead
'Terrence is a stud. He is a great football player that can play on either side of the ball, he was ham-strung by missing spring football and by having a hamstring pull about a week or two prior to when fall camp started. So he had a very slow start in fall camp. He put on a little bit of weight. He is down now, he has lost about seven or eight pounds in the last two weeks, he is getting into playing shape. It showed that his performance against Fresno State was a difference in the game. He did an outstanding job and made two really key plays, converted two fourth downs, one for a touchdown where he broke the tackle at the line scrimmage and went 20 yards and took a screen pass and put the winning points on the board. He had a 46-yard run in which he broke a couple of tackles and ran away from a couple of people and did an awesome job. We need Terrence untracked for us to be the kind of offense we need to be. We have the opportunity to run the football and he is the main cog in that gear. I am excited because we need him to be at full strength and at full speed.'
On how many points it would take to beat USC
'I have no idea. What I would like to see, just based upon the way their last couple of games have gone, is that it be a fairly low-scoring game. I would like to think that our defense is going to step up, and our special teams are going make some field position changes. I don't know that we want to match touchdowns with USC. At this point I think the lower the score the better that is for the Ducks and I think that we have the ability to move the football and we can score points. I am just not sure we can do it quite as fast as USC has shown they have done it the past two games. I think it is important that we contain that scoring and make it a slower pace of the game. I don't know if we can do that. Our idea last week was no huddle and up-tempo. It will be interesting and exciting for everybody.'