Pete Carroll gets ready for the Trojans final road game at California.
Nov. 8, 2005
'We feel very fortunate to be in the situation we are in here. The last segment of the season, we have a chance to do some real special things and have a terrific year. Unfortunately we have this unfortunate task of going against Cal, a team that has been hurt a little bit from the past couple of weeks. They have been extremely competitive but haven't been able to get their wins how they want to. They are a really talented football team; right in front of us is a big match up on the road. This is our last road game; it is going to be a terrific challenge for us. We are really looking forward to it, and to finishing the road season. It has been dramatic and challenging through out, and this game will be no different. We started the week yesterday and we are going and turned our sights to Cal and we are underway. This is a big opportunity for us, and it is a big match-up. They are a fine program, with a heck of a coaching staff, this makes it a really good match-up as it has been in the past. Everybody wants to ask about three years ago and all that kind of stuff. That was a big event, a terrific football game, and Cal deserved it more. That was a long time ago. There aren't very many guys on this team that played in that game or know very much about it. We do know it is a difficult place to play and they have a great crowd that gets the team fired up and inspired. We have come to learn to expect that, and hopefully we will be up to the task, and we will put together a great football game and a great plan that will give us a chance to win.'
On the Cal game last year
'They were a really good team. They did a good job, with a terrific quarterback, terrific tailback, experienced line, and experienced defense. They had a heck of a football team, it was a great battle. It was a game that was played pretty close to the best. It was played like a championship game. They were really talented. Now that we have been in the conference for a long time, four years going against each other now, you have a feel for one another. You have a sense of style and philosophy; I think that makes it more exciting. The more you know the better and the more fun it makes it. I don't think this will be much different, same kind of match up, same kind of intensity, same kind of knowledge of each other. We know all their players on their roster just about from recruiting wars and they know ours.'
On Joe Ayoob
'He is a really good athlete, and a good runner. He has had a lot of really good games this season. He has done all of the things they have needed him to do. He moves well, throws the ball down the field well, with a quick release. He is a real good all-around athlete. He has been forced into it, to have to play, but he has done a nice job with this opportunity being new to the program.'
If Cal's running backs compare to anyone else's
'Yeah, when we played Auburn, I think Auburn was the team that had a duo that was really comparable. They had a big guy and the make you miss guy, speed guy, very similar to our formula. Both guys are zooming in on 1,000 yards. One of the guys has an eight yard average and the other has a six yard average, great averages on a carry. Both guys can catch the ball well. It gives you two different styles of runners, but yet it makes for a larger game plan for them. They have more things that they can do. They keep you guessing. It is a really good formula for the running game. Obviousey we have the same formula and it has been productive for both of us.'
'He is really a good coach, if you watch their consistency, they are good. They always move the ball, and run they ball. Their philosophy is really clear, I think that is an outstanding characteristic, you should be able to know what it is, if you have one. you can see how they are committed to the running game fits, their style of defense fits, their passing game matches up really well. Their ability to be consistent with different guys shows that their philosophy is really strong. They are a good tough team too. They have a good attitude. I think what a coach hopes another coach will say about your team. He does a fantastic job. He took this team far; they were 1-10 the year before he got there. Since then they have done exceedingly well since.'
How USC decided to go for the win against Notre Dame, after going for the tie and the field goal against Cal three years ago and lost
'That has nothing to do with the situation. There was two totally different sets of circumstances. We were on the three inch line. Put me on the three inch line again, give me a chance. I think at Cal it was a pretty long field goal. Philosophically I am always playing to win, I am looking to win every chance we get, I can't wait to do it. Sometimes it doesn't marriage up with the opportunity. Those were not different thoughts those were different situations.'
On Fred Davis getting a touchdown
'You saw it by his expression of excitement in the moment. He was just pumped up about it. He had been waiting. This is a guy who scored a lot of touchdowns in his history of playing football. He has been waiting for that chance to get going. I think this is going to be the first of many. He is going to do a lot of good things for us. It would be great if he could make a big impact as we finish the season. It is good in all areas, as a coach you want to see the guys show you the success, so you feel good about it. It makes it easier to go back to him and more likely to count on him. It is good for Fed and it is good for the team.'
On the unit of the team that has improved the most since the start of the season
'I would think that the defensive line has elevated the most. I think they are playing at a really high level. Jethro (Franklin) has found a way with those guys and got them going. Frostee (Rucker) has been really consistent and active. Sedrick (Ellis) has been a big factor, when you think back to LaJuan (Ramsey) missing three games in there, we had a little dip, his senior leadership and his experience is something we are counting on. I think that is a group that has really come together well. We are able to rotate in a lot of guys in, and maintain the level of play, and hopefully the speed and intensity that we like . That is how we always how we wanted it to be. Is to rotate in a lot of guys to keep them healthy and fresh and gain the experience. You expect a tremendous amount out of our offense. Right behind that is our linebacking crew. We have gone through a lot of guys already, and it has been a real challenge to keep that thing going, but they have been pretty solid.'
On what made the difference in the improvement on defense
'It has just been a matter of time. They were so inexperienced in so many critical spots that were relative to where we were. We had three and four year starters that were with us last year. That lack of experience, the only way you can gain it is to play. So we haven't been as consistent for that reason. The way you see Sedrick (Ellis) and Lawrence Jackson in their red-shirt senior year, those guys are going to be the best players in the country at their spots. They are going to be that productive. We are not there yet. We are still a ways a way, but it is exciting to see them productive, and active and learning and consistently out their playing to give themselves a chance to grow.'
If Carroll talked to Matt when he took some time to reflect after the Notre Dame game
'We got together, I am not sure if it was after that game or before. The first time I think was right before that game, after Arizona State and then right after the Notre Dame game. Just shooting the breeze, but we talked about the build up and they hype and the pressure, and the expectations. It was somewhere around there that we tried to control his activities with the media as much as possible. Not that the media is responsible, you guys are just trying to do your job, it has been so constant for him. It was because of what happened in his play. If he had thrown for 400 then he wouldn't have been unhappy, but the games were harder and we weren't as solidly performing. He took the responsibility of it, just like the leader should. He did exactly like he should. It was really simple, the conversation went to remind him about how great of a football player and competitor and factor he really is. And remind him that even though he is griping, I think he was 28 for 36, something ridiculous. This allowed us to make note of how the standards have been elevated. It is a beautiful thing. It is exactly what should happen. You are not going to just cruise through this thing. There are going to be ups and downs and you are going to have to deal with it. He did a great job, and look at what he has done. The last three weeks he is living that life of, everything is rolling and he can't wait to get on the practice field, and he is having fun with his teammates. Which one came first, to tell you the truth I think the performance came first. We all picked it up, after that sixth game going into the seventh the whole program took a step forward. Matt benefited from that, and everybody else benefited from Matt's play. It is not static, it moves. Fortunately what is notable is that Matt was able to regain his composure and his confidence the way he has wanted to and his performance has been rolling ever since.'
If Matt is better now then he was at this point last year
'There is no doubt. You guys know the numbers. How many 300 yard games did he have last year? I think he had two. Look at how many 300 yard games he had last year compared to what he has this year. He has hardly had anything that wasn't a 300 yard game. That is just one barometer. He is much more controlled. Everything about him is better, every single aspect. He is stronger, faster; his arm is great, his understanding, his confidence, his speed, his quickness, and his ability to make decisions and get rid of the football, and his ability to audible. This has been an extraordinary illustration of the benefit of him waiting one more time to come out. He is a better player. One of the clear thoughts that Matt had was, when I have my opportunity I want to be at my very best, I don't want to just get there. In his different way of looking at things as he matured, he has benefited in everyway you can.'
' Just yesterday we were talking about how he has completed 67% of his passes, he has thrown enough passes to warrant one full game, with three touchdowns and a pick. He looks very comfortable, very quick with the ball coming out last week. He was right on the money, with the rhythm of his release and seeing that he was reading the coverage and all. He is ready to go. Even with saying that he still has a lot of first time experiences on our offense to go through, when things are really difficult and he has got to make his checks and all of that. But what he has been given to handle, he has done beautifully with. If you notice we said we were going to do this in the beginning of the year. We need to continue to let him throw the ball late in the game so he can develop, and he has been doing that. His confidence is really high. We are ready to play a game with him. If we needed to do that he could go out play with our offense, we wouldn't have to change anything.'
On the status of Rey Maualuga
'Rey had an emergency and had to fly home last night. He flew home late last night, his dad is very sick. I am not sure; Rey might be there for a while. I don't know how we are going to work that out. To make sense of it he just had to get home, he had an emergency status last night. He has to do what he is doing right now, he has to be where he is.'
California Coach Jeff Tedford
On California's season so far
'It is a little bit of everything, it comes down to making plays, and we haven't made as many plays as the other team. We have had a chance to win the games in the fourth quarter and we haven't gotten it done. You can come up with what ever you want to come up with. We had some young guys playing, we have had some injuries but everybody does. We are still learning from growing as a young team and we are learning lessons. The main thing is we have let games slip away in the fourth quarter.
On Cal's running backs
'Marshawn (Lynch) is more physical then Justin (Forsett), he 215 pounds. That is a little bit different; they both have very good quickness and lateral movement. They are both quality backs, but Marshawn is just a bigger physical back.'
On quarterback Joe Ayoob
'He has been up and down, he has had some rough times. He has come out some games and done a nice job, it was great to see. He brought us back during the Washington State game, he threw two late touch down passes to pull off the win. He is still progressing and still learning, it is a hard situation in his first year in the pac-10, playing great defenses and getting used to the speed of the game and a new offense and all those kinds of things. Each week is a new lesson for him. Consistency is something he is still striving for.
On the defense
'Our defense has done a nice job for the most part, they gave up a couple of big plays against Washington State, but for the most part they have been pretty consistent with stopping the run. We have been pleased with how that has gone so far.
The USC Cal game for the past three years
'First of all USC is a great team, in great condition. Right now it is very evident they are the best team in the country. The game changes, these are two different teams. Two years ago we had a veteran team and last year we were a veteran team. This year we are pretty young. The overtime game we were fortunate enough to win here, was a great, great collage football game with a lot of ups and downs and people responding. We got up to an early lead and they came back and made a lot of plays. Then we went into overtime and there was a lot of ups and downs in that game. It was unbelievable and we were fortunate to win it. Last year, to have a chance to win it in the end in the Coliseum which is not easy to do, just being close to the game having a chance to win in the fourth quarter, is a big enough feat. Again it comes down to making plays. I remember that we weren't able to make a play in the end there.
Thoughts on USC
'In my opinion they are the best team I have seen in college football, there is no doubt about it. Just from top to bottom, the depth that they have, the athleticism, the physical, there really are no chinks in their armor. Offensively there is a lot made of their skill positions, I think there offensive line has done a great job of protecting Matt (Leinart) and knocking holes for their runners. From top to bottom they are as good as anyone or may ever be. Defensively I am really impressed. Some people said they were the weak link, but I don't believe that at all. They are as athletic and physical as I have seen. They are very well coached. They have depth, speed; there is really nothing you can say except that they are a great football team.'
What returning players think about this match-up
'Well we don't have many of those. We are a totally different team, we are very young. This is a game a lot of them look forward to because a lot has to do with southern California. There are guys that they played with or against. I don't think that they went in saying we can't wait to have another chance at them next year. It is a great opportunity to play the number one team. We have a lot of respect for USC.'
Who is more dangerous Leinart or Bush
'That is a tough one. You could probably throw a couple other names in there too. I would say even though I think Leinart has such a great control of that offense and puts people in position to make plays and is so accurate throwing the ball and makes great decisions, I think overall probably Bush. Only because of what he does in so many different positions. Coming from the tailback spot, the receiver spot and the kicking game, I think he is very, very dangerous. He makes a lot of plays and makes a lot of people miss. I think any time he touches the ball he has a chance to make something happen. No different than the passing game, every time Leinart has the ball in his hands it is very rare that you don't see something good happen. Both great players, I think with all that Reggie does, Reggie is probably more dangerous throwing in the kicking game.'
On Donnie McCleskey
'Donnie has played solid, he has been banged up here and there. Last year he really went through a season playing hurt all year. It is nice to see him back in full form. Any time he plays physical, which he does, there is always a time where he is going to get banged up a little bit, which he has been. He is such a solid contributor for our team. He provides so much leadership for our team and it is great to have him around.'
How Cal put up the best numbers of anyone against USC last year
'Well our defensive coordinator did a nice job of game planning, but you never going to stop them. You just hope to control them in some way and having a few turnovers helped. I am not surprised by our team last year because we had a veteran group and they did a great job. USC is more powerful this year. It is going to be a big test to try to control them or at least try to slow them down a little bit.'
On DeSean Jackson
'He was just coming off a banged up shoulder last week and didn't play as well as he is capable of playing. He was out yesterday and practiced hard and had a good attitude and hopefully through the week of practice here that thing can stay calmed dow