Pete Carroll And Dirk Koetter Discuss Saturday's Coliseum Matchup
Oct. 10, 2006
Press Conference Quotes
Pete Carroll - Head Coach, USC Trojans
General Opening Comments
As we look at this week coming up, it's the halfway point of the season. Game six, with a bye to follow, it's a chance to finish off the first half and that's how we're going about it. It's a tremendous opportunity to play here at home again. Arizona State coming in after their bye, I'm sure they're going to be revved up and ready to go. We need to continue to develop and work our team and improve in every way we can. We've got a lot of areas that we're working on. That's real positive because we know that we're winning football games but yet we've got a lot of area to improve. That's how we're going about it and we're very determined to finish the first half and finishing is always important to us and so we see this as that opportunity and we'll try to rise to the occasion and make it a heck of a game. I think playing at the Coliseum has been awesome for us. The crowds, it feels different. The electricity in the Coliseum is the best ever. To have another chance to come back two weeks in a row to be here, it just seems like we're very fortunate. It doesn't seem like it happens very often so we're going to try to maximize this chance to really come through and put together a terrific game.
On the polls
I could care less about the polls. The polls mean nothing to me. They don't mean anything to anybody until the end. Then they're meaningful. I didn't even know if we dropped or what we did. I didn't even know that. My cohort here says we didn't. It doesn't factor in. It doesn't change what we're doing or how we operate. It's just a recording of what's up this week coming up and I think it's much more a media thing than it is for us. We've never bothered one way or another. It does mean something at the very end though and when that comes time, we'll take a look and see where we are.
On how the upcoming bye might change the way he will use some players
Not necessarily. It might weigh in knowing that guys have a rest coming. Particularly in Dwayne's case, and I'm not thinking of anybody that that matters to but there's a number of our guys that will benefit from that week though. At this time though, there's no consideration about next week affecting the way that we will play guys.
On being disappointed with the teams performance of late
No - you can't be any better than 5-0 so we're doing fine with that. There's a lot of work to be done. There's a lot of stuff that we're working on here to try effectively to improve our chance to finishing really well during the season. I'm disappointed in certain aspects of production. Really, in particular about defense and getting the football... we need to get that done and we need to give the ball back to our offense and put them in good field positions and all that and take advantage of what that gives you. We're always on that. I would say exactly the same thing if we had ten turnovers the last two weeks so that's not how you do it but that's an area of our game that I'm hoping will change. Over the years, I know that it goes and comes and usually there'll be a bunch coming up here pretty quick. We're not changing our approach to it or our attitude to our players, or our manner. We just keep emphasizing it and go forward and see if we can get the ball back. I think it's a good job by the people we've been playing to keep it from us and I'm sure that they're paying particular attention to it and it's giving them a chance to keep the games in control where they have a chance to win it. That's more power to them and they're doing a good job of that.
On wide receiver Steve Smith and a possible MRI on injured ankle
I think it was this morning. No no no. It's still yet to be scheduled. It might be all the way until tomorrow morning before it's done. As of now, it isn't set up yet but we'll know by tomorrow's practice, what's going on. We're going to rest him today for sure. He feels a lot better today with treatments downstairs so we think there's a really good chance that he'll make it back but we've got to validate what's going on. He's got something in the back of his foot that's bothering him a little bit. It's outside of the anklea sprain type of deal.
On the impact of losing fullbacks to injury
It has set us back a little just in experience at the spot. We haven't been as effective with two backs as we'd like to be. The numbers just aren't quite as good as we'd like them to be. Instead of going away from it, we're going to continue to work at it and get it better because it's an aspect of our offense that we don't want to lose. Mike Brittingham continues to do a good job for us. You saw Jody Adewale get in the game for the first time in a normal situation and caught a ball and did some good things. Hopefully, we'll continue to develop it. That's the idea right now. We're moving Allen Bradford around and still trying to find some spots where he can help us. We haven't made any switches or any positions changes or anything like that. I know that was a challenge yesterday but that's what's going on.
On satisfaction with the run/pass ratio from last week
We're always trying to stay balanced. We were a little heavy there (on passing). For the most part, that will all balance out in time but in any game, we're trying to wind up pretty close to balanced so it's a little bit off.
On the social compact between players and coaches over the years
Well, I think you have to treat all these situations individually. You've got to take into account young guys trying to figure it out, trying come to an understanding with them on what's important and all that kind of stuff. With all the moves that we make, these issues rise to the top with these kids. To me, it's really important that guys feel good about what they're doing, that they understand where they fit and where they'll contribute bestwhen they feel good about stuff. That always is everything clear to us or to them. It takes time to figure things out. So we'll manage our way through it and make sure that we're doing what we think is right for our football team and for the individual and consider all cases. In the old days, it might have been a little different. I think we take people's individual situations more into account than we used to and I think that's a good thing. I don't think that's a bad thing.
On tailback Chauncey Washington's development
I felt like I said a number of times that Chauncey was the best that he's been. That was just an improvement scale that he was on and it really wasn't until last week in practice that he actually sprinted down the sidelines and outraced guys into the end zone in our team periods about four or five different times. He hadn't done that one time up until that time and that was because Chauncey was still trying to manage his way back to full health. We were hoping that he would continue to manage his way back to full health as we would advise him so that he could keep playing and he finally made it back. He showed it in practice and he showed it in the game, which was the way it's supposed to work. He came out yesterday tearing up the field, running around full speed again so he's back. Still Chauncey's going to continue to develop in his conditioning, in his speed work and just his mentality and I think that we've got a chance to see him continue to improve. This was the best he's been. He ran the hardest and the quickest and was the most effective and that's a great sign for us. I don't think that we've seen the best that we have to offer yet in a number of areas and that's pretty exciting for us. Now, it's our job to continue to motivate, direct, manage and choreograph this thing so that it works out and we continue to improve. Chauncey is just one case. Another example of that is a couple weeks ago we said `Geez, Dwayne's not going to play. How's Patrick going to do?' Well, Patrick's has caught 17 balls in the last two weeks. He's done awesome and he's answered the call. Steve Smith filled in as he needed to two weeks ago. There's these little issues going on that we're working with to try and continue to improve guys... motivate, direct so things can continue to improve. Chauncey's a great example of that. Hopefully, we can benefit form that. I thought he really looked good last week. That's the first time I thought he looked like Chauncey that we remembered and we're hoping to see.
On linebacker situation and how the defensive changes are working
I think this has really helped us. I think getting Sartz and Cushing on the field at the same time is a good thing. Finding ways to keep Keith Rivers out there more is a good thing for us. I don't have any problem with what we're doing. I like what's going on and placing those guys in positions where they can do things. I'm really not looking at this situation of not getting the ball the last couple of weeks like we should be in 4-3 versus the not 3-4. I think we're doing all right and we'll continue to improve. Maybe it's hard to appreciate how young this group is and how little they've played together. They've been in very good situations so far; they've played a lot of tough defense' they've showed us a lot of playmaking ability and I think there's a huge amount of improvement for us there. I'd just like to see this improvement happen sooner than later. It's going to happen fro sure eventually and I'd just like to see it happen sooner than later.
On Arizona State's disappointing season so farI think they've run into two really high-rolling football teams in Cal and Oregon back to back. Those offenses just came out smoking in both those games and jumped ahead. Once they got out, they played pretty balanced after the first quarter of those games. ASU has got a very explosive offense. They know what they're doing; they've always had one of the top passing teams in the country for years. This year, they're not hitting it quite right in these last couple games but they've got a quarterback that led the nation in throwing last year and he's sitting there ready to break out at any time. With a week off, and I can tell by the way they're communicating, that they're all jacked up about turning this thing back on track.
They have a very good running game. Transfer tailback Ryan Torain, you guys haven't seen him yet maybe but this is an incredibly good football player that's just starting to hit the scene for them just this year... that directs their running game and he's very consistent. He's averaged 6.5 yards a carry and he's a stud. So that with the potential of the passing game makes them a very strong football team. They have some changes on defense...have transitioned through some personnel that they've lost but they still remain very aggressive and they're trying to get after it. They won a few games and then they lost two games to Cal and Oregon but I don't know if that says a whole lot that they're going in the wrong direction. Those are two terrific teams they've played. We're going to expect them to come roaring back at us, healthy and fired up and all that kind of stuff as they come into the Coliseum.
On ASU quarterback Rudy Carpenter and going through a rough patch
He threw for 38 yards against Oregon. That's a rough patch for a guy that's a top guy in the country but I think that's what Dirk is talking about you know. He knows he's a terrific football player but he had a horrible opportunity that just got away from him. They couldn't get the throwing game going. The way I look at it, and I'm sure Dirk looks at it too, they're just one game from getting back on track again. It just can't be this week.
On ASU offensive strengths
They're the offense that they've always been. They're very wide-open, down the field throwing team. More of a down field team than anybody that we've played meaning that they'll use their protections to get the quarterback some extra time. They're throwing 18 and 20-yard routes all over the field and happy to do that. They're not a dink and dunk type of team that we see sometimes around the conference. They've got a style of their own and that's why they've been so explosive and been able to put up huge numbers over the years. They haven't changed their offense from when Andrew Walters was there or when Sam Keller was there last year until now. It's the same stuff. They're really trying to strike you dead and it's a big play oriented group. With Torain running the football, he's very physical... he's 215 lbs., 220 lbs. kid and he runs really hard and he gives them a nature about their team that I really respect and can sense that it can be a big factor if we don't tackle this guy. This is a very volatile offense as far as we're concerned. We're concerned about this.
On games coming down to one possession
I think it's pretty cool. There's a lot of things that go on in that game that don't go on in games when you're up like three touchdowns. You're called on to coach a whole lot more... anticipate, direct, strategize, all that kind of stuff. I spend a whole lot more time coaching when it was like that than when it wasn't. I feel pretty comfortable and familiar and I like to be taxed in that way personally. I think it's good for our football team. I think it helps us to understand that there's a lot of ways that games come out and you have to be prepared for a lot of different things. I think it makes you tough. I think it makes you more physically prepared and mentally prepared to finish well and do the things like we preached that you have to do at the end of games and we're doing it. I'm fired up about the fact that we've been able to hold our game together and do the right things at the right times and finish games off. There's a lot of ways to finish them and that's one. I'm a little stupid about it but I kind of like it. I think they make for good memories and it gives us things to talk about in the huddle in between big plays and timeouts in a manner to approach those situations with a philosophy that might surprise you... that we like it, that we're enjoying it and that we're looking forward to getting it done. There's a lot that goes on there that's pretty cool.
On Pac-10 officials and concerns from last Saturday
We just sent in our report today and it takes a couple days before we get that back. It's a normal week for us. There were some things that we talked about a little more in the media but basically it's the same as always. It's the same format. They review it, they give us a written report and then they tell us what they're going to do about the decisions. If they find that an official is in error, they downgrade them and they take some actions to take care of that. They're very vigilant about the way they do this and I think they're on it and I have no problem with the way this process goes from here on. Verle Sorgen is a really easy guy to communicate with. He's available and he's not trying to hide from anything. He's very upfront and forthright and all.
On the reason for lack of sacks
There has been a bunch of quick game from Washington State... a lot of quick stuff. We went back and looked at it to assess how many times they really did put the quarterback back in the pocket. This week was a little different. The quarterback is so different last week that he was able to get out when they did drop him back... a lot of quick stuff. I think Washington was 48% or something completing their passes and all. That's still a good day on pass defense. That's causing problems and getting things done. One of the problems that occurs from not getting the quarterback knocked around is that the ball is very vulnerable when you hit the quarterback. There's always a chance to cause fumbles and get turnovers or make the ball be thrown poorly. We got the balls thrown poorly enough and we had some chances but we didn't get the ball knocked out at all this last week. There has been a quick rhythm... a lot of spread out stuff in an attempt to try to keep the ball out of the quarterbacks' hands which is a good way to play and some teams will do that just because they want to play us that way. In terms of blitzing, last week, we held back a little bit, this week, we kept the numbers up there pretty good.
Dirk Koetter - Head Coach, Arizona State Sundevils
On the Arizona State season so far
Well, first off, we start off winning three non-conference games and at that time, after the third week, we had the longest winning streak in the Pac-10 dating back to last year with six games. Then we go up to Cal, play an excellent team in Cal and we got off to a pretty good start but then we just turned it over way too much, gave up way too many big plays. When you're on the road against a team like Cal with 70,000 people in the stands and they get on a roll, it's tough to overcome that and we just kind of lost it there in the second half. We come back home against another good football team in Oregon and we just did not play very well. We really struggled in the passing game. We gave up again, too many big plays to Oregon and just did not play well at all. We follow that up with a bye right here before this SC game. I think we're no different than any other team out there. When things are going well, it's easy to build on that. When you're struggling, even getting a first down seems tough sometimes. Mainly, our troubles can be traced to turnovers. I mean, we're minus 4 on the year in turnover margin. I believe SC is plus four. Against the last two teams that we've played, Cal and Oregon, we can't turn the ball over eight times against teams like that and expect to be in the game. We've got to just do a better job of taking care of the ball and not beating ourselves. We do have a talented football team. We've got a lot of excellent players and yes we have used the bye week to work on some things that we think we need to improve on, that we know we need to improve on. We're anxious to get out there and compete again.
On sophomore quarterback, Rudy Carpenter
Well, Rudy is going through a little bit of a rough stretch right now. It's not uncommon. Plenty of other quarterbacks on all levels, high school, college, pro, have gone through things that Rudy has gone though. Rudy is a perfectionist. He's an excellent competitor; he's very hard on himself and he has struggled a little bit the last two weeks. Our timing has been off. Our timing has been off kind of in all three phases. Our timing has been off a little bit with the protection, our timing has been off a little bit with the receivers, and our timing has been off a little bit with the quarterback. That's a bad combination when all three of those things are off at the same time. We've got to get all of those fixed in order to get back. We've been an excellent passing team over the last few years and there's no reason why we can't get back to that. We have good players at all positions. I think quarterbacks go through that from time to time and then they tend to doubt themselves and they start overanalyzing and second guessing themselves a little bit. That's one thing we've worked with Rudy on, just going through his reads and progressions, trusting what he sees and letting the ball go.
On the Sundevil defense
Well, our defense got off to a fast start. We were playing a lot of pressure. We were having success. We had 18 sacks in our first three games. We only had 22 sacks all of last season and we had 18 in the first three games. Then the last two games again, due primarily to our offensive struggles and our turnovers, we really haven't given our defense a great chance because we haven't stayed in the game offensively. In this conference you've got to be able to score points because everybody is going to score points for the most part in this conference. The best teams are going to be very explosive on offense and you've got to be able to match them on the scoreboard so that your defensive players have a chance to hang in there. Since we haven't done that, I think our defense has gotten down on themselves and maybe missed some tackles that they were making earlier in the year. Obviously, we cannot give up big plays and I think that's something that teams that stay in games longer, they just have a tendency to not give up big plays. We've been giving up too many big plays and that's been something that we've been focused on during the bye.
On USC and this weeks' match-up
My thoughts on USC are that USC is still USC. I've done several press conferences already this week and I've watched the film of the two games of the last two weeks and to me, USC is still every bit as good as they've always been. I think USC is playing at a very high level. The scores have been closer because I think Washington and Washington State did a good job of not beating themselves but that still wasn't enough to beat USC. It allowed them to hang in the game. USC is a younger team than they've been and obviously, the firepower that they lost on offense. It's not like those guys they lost on offense, two Heisman trophy winners out of the same backfield. They've had some injuries at receiver but Booty is playing at a very high level. All the receivers are doing a good job, their running backs by committee has been doing a nice job. Defensively, if there's a team that's got a better group of linebackers in America, I'd like to see it because those guys can really, really play. Again, to me, USC looks as good as ever.
On junior tailback Ryan Torain and the running game
Well, that's one of the bright spots for our offense right now. We've said going into this year, that we thought we had the best depth at tailback that we've ever had and Ryan Torain has risen to the top of that depth chart. He along with Keegan Herring, give us a nice one-two punch at tailback. Ryan has strung together three really nice games right in a row. He's a bigger back at about 215 lbs. to 220 lbs. and he's got the ability to break tackles, he's got the speed to get to the edge and he also has the cutback ability to make a safety miss. He's done all three of those things in the last two or three games. We just have not had much of a passing game around him but I'm excited about our running game and our running backs in particular. The way the O-Line has blocked in the running game and the way the tight ends have blocked in the running game, we've just got to get our passing game back on track and we'll have a chance.
On USC tailbacks, Chauncey Washington and Emmanuel Moody (referred to as 'the replacements' for Reggie Bush and LenDale White)
I doubt if they'd like to be called the replacements. Didn't they make a movie about that? Or was that The Benchwarmers or whatever it was? USC has played something like six tailbacks and to me, they're as talented as ever. Washington, I thought really displayed his power and his endurance last week as the game wore on. I thought he got stronger and stronger as the game wore on. Moody, has a slashing style and I think he does a really good job on their cutback play when they run the zone and insert the fullback. I think he's got a good feel for cutting the ball back and fitting into the crease and then running hard. All the tailbacks that USC has played this year and there's a bunch of them, are all very talented. They wouldn't be playing at USC if they didn't have a lot of talent. Even though they're going with more a committee approach, I think their running game is still very effective. You'd better be able to stop that or it's going to be a long day.