Pete Carroll and Dirk Koetter Press Conference Notes
Sept. 27, 2005
September 27, 2005- Media Luncheon
'We are pumped up about this opportunity to come back for our second conference game against a team that is high flying. This is a great challenge for us to go on the road again in a really great stadium. I am sure the crowd will be rocking. This will be a big test for us. Arizona State has looked very impressive in their first games; they move the football better then ever. They show great balance; Sam Keller has just taken over and done a fantastic job. We are hoping to get in the grove and take it over. For Keller he just jumped out ahead and he has looked great. They are going to be very difficult for us to deal with. We are going to have to do a great job in preparation this week. It is going to be a great conference match-up.
On being down 13 points against Oregon and coming back
'It was really good for us, it was a good test for us, it was a good challenge. It challenged some of the core beliefs in our system and our program about hanging tough through out and finishing strong. It came at a good time so we can get ready for all of our hard games in the conference. The first two games were really fun for us and we had a great time, but they didn't challenge us in the same way that this game challenged us. I think the crowd in Autzen stadium is about the best we are going to find in the Pac-10. We showed that we were involved with the crowd a little bit early. We didn't play very well for the first quarter. We rode it and got going and handled it really well. I think it was a very valuable lesson for us. Every year we have had games like this where it has done something to us and we have grown from it. A lot of the younger guys, particularly on defensive side, could feel the way this game goes and how the flow of it goes and how you have to hold your edge. I am hoping it will make a big impact.
On starting out the season with only two home games
'We like to do it the hard way. It is just a stroke of luck in scheduling. It is good for us. It is hard. Our players need to know that and understand that it isn't going to be easy we have got the most difficult way we can go about it. It forces us to stay on point and keep our focus and keep digging in. I don't expect it to be easy I expect it to be challenging. We have to know that and live up to the challenges we will face and be stronger because of it. It is going to help us. It is how you finish. It is going to help us get strong. We don't expect it to be easy.
On coming from behind
'It was cool to be in that situation. We were going to have to show what we were all about and use the tools that we have to regroup and reorganize to come back. It is very similar to the way it was last year. I can remember at Stanford our guys were excited to have the opportunity to show this. What it takes to get that done, we talk about finishing and being in those situations. So when you finally get those situations it is exciting and fun. I can't tell you we weren't affected by what happened. But it brought about the right kind of attitude to get back and get going again. That is important. 13 points, it might be more sometimes, we were able to score seven times in a row. I don't think we are going to fall behind by that much. We know we can come back. If we don't have that attitude then we are not going to make it. We have to understand that it is going to be difficult that we are going to get behind it is going to be challenging and we have to be able to come through.'
On the offensive line
'I think this is the best group by far that we have had. They are not only experienced, but they are talented and they are led by coach (Pat) Ruel's background and experience. He has really brought them together even more so than before. The are really limiting and minimizing the mistakes that most offensive lines have. I kind of look at it like a batting average. They have had such a high number of successes on the adjustments we have had to make. They have really been effective. I don't want to compare that much. It seems like this is the best group. They have a great attitude and comraderie about them that you like to have on the offensive line. We are fortunate that they are getting all of this playing time together and they are still young. There is only one senior in the group.
If it is meaningful that if USC wins this weekend it will break the school record and Pac-10 for consecutive wins
'Not really. I didn't even know it. Those things are great, but just winning this football game is way more important. It is nice to know that you have got something going. It is huge to have that background. That feeling of having those accomplishments are more about what generates the pride to work and stay at the same level. Other then that I didn't know.
If questions about the defense were answered in this game
'I am feeling a lot better about them, we played really hard. We played really well up front. It was more about just playing hard, the end play out of Lawrence (Jackson) and Frostee (Rucker) was really special. I thought Jethro (Franklin) did a beautiful job getting those guys ready. They had a lot of responsibility that we hoped they could handle. You couldn't see it because of the subtlety but they did a bunch of great things. They would take the dive one time and clear the dive and get out at the quarterback. Other times they would bluff down at the dive and take the quarterback. They did so well they were able to stop their option game. That was really great to see. Our front four are playing really solid. LaJuan (Ramsey) is playing really well and I think you can see that Sedrick (Ellis) is able to make the plays that Mike Patterson used to make for us. This is the first game that I could really feel that the level has stepped up to where we need it to be. The good part about it is that they are just starting. It was really the first game that the defense could really feel each other. The guys were playing and could sense the plays of one another and feel the intensity of each other. That is the first step of these guys starting to get that kind of attitude that makes you a special defense. We have a chance.
On how important the last game in Tempe was
'You look back in our recent history the Arizona State game was enormous game for our program. Because we were behind at half time 17-10 and Leinart was hurt. He was on the table and he didn't look like he was getting up. He had an ankle and a knee injury at the time. In kind of a heroic fashion he limped back on the field for the second half. He went out and had a great second half. LenDale (White) went crazy on the ground, and we really haven't been the same since that game. We took another step forward since that game. That was on the heels of the California game. There is no telling what would have happened had it not gone that way. It was a great moment for Matt Leinart, I thought showing the toughness he had and the leadership ability and the gamesmanship. That was the day LenDale showed up, when the aggressive nature of our running game mixed with the rest of the passing game. It was Like Oregon game on the road with (Justin) Fargas the year before that.
On the conditioning of USC players
'I know our guys can finish. They can finish with anybody. It is almost in their blood. I really owe it to coach (Chris) Carlisle he has done an awesome job in training these guys in believing in their ability to finish to take their level of play from the first play of the game to the last. I don't think we play harder in the fourth quarter, I think we just maintain it. That is all I am asking for. I want them to maintain their level of play throughout the game. Most of the time that is difficult for other teams to sustain. It looks like a conditioning factor. Our guys are in fantastic shape. The abilities they have gained in the strength and conditioning program over the years has showed up. We are a lean football team. They are prepared to finish really well. One of the finest attributes you can have on the team is how you finish and if you can finish well. We talk about seasons, and months and weeks and games, but finishing has to do with all of those things. If you are going to be successful it is a great attribute to have.
On Derek Hagan
'He is one of the top guys we have ever played. He has been productive for years. He was a big play guy as a sophomore and he hasn't back off a bit. He is a great route runner, he has terrific down field speed and he can make big plays. He has the energy to break plays and he does exciting things when he has the football in his hands. He has great confidence and is a great kid. I had the chance to meet him. They have a great champion kid.
On Sam Keller
'He just jumped on to the scene. That is a real statement about their program. He is a program guy. He came up following Walters, and when he had his chance he did well. That is really impressive that he can come on so strong so fast with no hitch at all. He has been great every game this year. There is a lot going on. It is the whole program and Sam is the beneficiary of it all. He has also been able to capitalize on it. '
On Darnell Bing
'He had a really big game. It wasn't just a one, two play thing, he was really solid. There was a sequence when we made an adjustment to what they were doing and it called for him to be right in the middle of stuff. Boy, he made one play, another play, and won the play on third down. He really kind of shut down the stuff they had been effective executing earlier in the game. He is playing with great confidence, he really believes in what is going on. We challenged him during the week, asking him to play up. He had missed the week before. He didn't have a great week of practice either, in preparation until last Thursday. He had kind of gotten out of sync a little bit in the two weeks he was out. I was concerned about it but, he just jumped back up on Thursday when I brought it up to him and really carried the game.'
On having a new staff and the ability to make adjustments at half time
'I love the guys I work with. To see Jethro (Franklin) and Pat (Ruel) for the first time. They have been to a lot of football games and not felt their team like that at half time. It was really their first chance to witness the attitude of our football team and how they would handle that kind of adversity. They loved it. It was a real experience for them. Here was our first chance. It was a thrill for those guys.
On this season so far:
'We have gotten off to a decent start, obviously the LSU game hurts a lot since we were in position to win it and we let it slip away. In the other three, we played relatively well. We have an experienced offense with a lot of explosive play makers. We thought we would be able to score points on offense and we have. Our new defensive coordinator Bill Miller has created a different scheme on defense. I have been very pleased with how hard they have competed and how well they have adapted to Bill Miller our new coordinator. We are off to a solid start, but we play the team everyone wants to beat, everyone has to beat if you are going to get to the top this week.
On quarterback Sam Keller
'The thing people forget about Sam is that he was the fifth quarterback when he arrived as a true freshman. We spent ten days in fall camp and he went from fifth to second behind Andrew Walter; and he played a little bit his first year so he has never red-shirted. In those two years he played behind Andrew, not only did he get to learn from a pretty good guy, but he also got 40 percent of the practice reps. Any quarterback that is a back-up that's getting reps is key. That guy that is third or fourth isn't getting any reps. He is just playing on the scout team and standing around all day. Sam has been involved in the game plans for the past two years, he just didn't get much time. He has always been able to make all the throws. We always new he was a tough guy; he is 6-4 and 235 pounds so we knew he could take a hit. What we didn't know, is what you never know about any quarterback until they get into the fire, is the competitive savvy that he has. What a great feel for the game, for making adjustments for looking people off, to just a lot of little things that are very difficult to coach. That is where Sam has just been so impressive to me, the way he can run the show and how the team has responded to him.
On other offensive players that have stood out'We are fortunate that we have an experienced offensive line. Grayling Love is a first team all Pac-10 and Andrew Carnahan is a second team all Pac-10, and Derek Hagan is the career leader in every receiving category, with over 200 career catches. He is one of the premier receivers in the country and there are some good ones in our league. Rudy Burgess, is a wide receiver playing tailback for us. The emergence of true freshman Keegan Herring is much more of a true tailback with true speed, he is a track guy. They are all doing well and we will be ready to go this week.
On last years game against USC
'Last year we got off to a horrendous start, and part of that is because USC did good things, seven minutes into the game it was over. We did not compete the way we need to compete. Our guys are embarrassed by our performance last year. That is not indicative of what ASU football is all about. It is unfortunate because when you have days like that then you have to talk about it for a long time to come. All the good things we did last year pale because people want to bring up that we didn't show up when it counted against USC. I think that is an easy thing for our players to identify with.'
Thoughts on this years USC team
' What you see is a very impressive football team. We have tremendous numbers on offense and USC numbers blow ours away. They are just off the charts. Four punts for the whole season, the number of drives their first offense has been in vs. the number of drives they have touchdowns, the number of times Reggie Bush scores compared to the number of times he touches the ball. They are all incredible statistics. There are really no weaknesses on that offense. They have a veteran offensive line that blocks people. They have tight ends, wide receivers, they have multiple tailbacks and, oh by the way, they have the Heisman trophy winner at quarterback. There just isn't much to poke holes in there. Coming home from Oregon State the other night I popped in the tape and I was hoping to see a defense decimated by graduation, and I didn't see that at all. I saw a defense that is very fast, quick, we haven't seen a defense with that kind of speed from man number one through man number 11. Overall just a very impressive team that is very well coached in all phases.'
On the kind of game expected this weekend
'I really don't know. As a coach I don't think about what kind of a game it is going to be. Every game is different. If either team turns it over then there is a better chance that there is going to be more points scored. If someone is turning it over then it puts that team in a big hole. I don't really know. I don't really think in those terms.'
If USC can be handled for four consecutive quarters
'No one has done it for a long time. It going to be a big task. The analogy I like to use is if you go back to the Orange Bowl and everyone was arguing between Oklahoma and USC and Auburn about who deserved to be in there. Oklahoma was supposedly the second best team in the nation and we all saw what happened. I felt a lot better after that game because they beat Oklahoma a lot like they beat us. Is it possible for someone to handle USC for four consecutive quarters? I am sure it is possible, but no one has been able to do it for a long time.