Rose Bowl Press Conference: Day 1

Dec. 28, 2006

USC Offensive Press Conference
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Rose Bowl Press Conference

USC Offensive Coordinator, Lane Kiffin:
Opening Statement:
We're extremely excited about this match up. It presents a lot of great challenges to us. The defense we're facing basically has just one game which had nobody move the ball at all, so watching film, they've been very impressive. Obviously they start with their front seven being very big, physical, stopping the run, trying to make you throw the ball. And then their back end, led with their corner, giving up hardly any big plays at all so it's going to be a great match up, we're really excited about it. Guys have practiced extremely hard all week. We had some rain, which was good to have to change up practice a little bit, some abnormal conditions, but I know that these guys are ready to play and are excited about the match-up.

On Michigan CB Leon Hall:
(Hall's) made a ton of plays on the ball. His interception numbers aren't like (California's) Daymeion Hughes' but he continues to make plays and what you see happening on film is people don't try to go after him very much. Obviously because he's been there a long time and people know about him. People throw away from him and then when people do try to throw a lot of times they can't get the ball off because the pressure from the front seven is so strong and so physical and they just flat out overmatch a number of teams. Guys have had some ideas where they're trying to get after the secondary and they can't. Sometimes it just looks like total mismatches.

On if they`ve faced any comparable defense this year:
There really isn't. It's a classic Big-10 great team. The guys are bigger--the defensive tackle is 330 (pounds), the outside linebacker is 247 (pounds). You don't see that type of size in our Conference. Our Conference is more of a speed Conference, not as big and physical. We don't play a lot of great front sevens, that's just been the Pac-10 for a long time and you see that in the draft too. There's not a lot of D-linemen that come from the Pac-10, so it's different, it's a challenge we've had before very similar when we played them before and very similar when we played Oklahoma and Texas. We watched a defense that was just way better than any defense we played throughout the year.

On Michigan defensive coordinator Ron English`s effect:
There's some scheme things that obviously help them but that's not the main thing. It's the energy that they play with and you see it on film. They fly to the football, they play excited. They're playing with emotion, (English) has them on the sidelines going and that to me is the obvious change. The guys are playing for him and there's a lot to that. It's not all about X's and O's, it's getting guys to play for you.

On if John David Booty`s success can be attributed to a system:
No, it's him. We've been fortunate to have really good guys here and he's the next one of them to where he makes great decisions. He doesn't throw the balls up, he throws the ball to the right guys. He goes through his progressions and he continues to get better at that. But all the way from the opener where he played great against Arkansas, and that doesn't usually happen, so he has had a quarter here or there where he has not played great. But for the most part--obviously the UCLA game we didn't play very well--but he still hasn't have what a bad quarterback game is, where a guy throws four picks and it's a disaster. He has not had that and usually a guy has one of those in his first year.

On John David Booty`s on-field demeanor:
Very professional. You'll see when you're around him. For instance we were sitting around waiting to be picked up this morning and I said, `Hey did you go out to the hot tub?' and he said, `No, I didn't bring my swimsuit,' and I said, `Oh, did you forget it?' and he said, `No, business trip.' That's how he is and he was raised very well and he takes it very serious.

On if he saw anything useful from Michigan`s game vs. Ohio State:
Yeah there's some stuff in there but obviously teams are different so you can't just do the same things, and there's no doubt Troy Smith made a lot of plays that weren't exactly the way they were supposed to go. We've had that too with Reggie Bush. So there's some things you can take from the game but our quarterback doesn't quite run like Troy.

On if the UCLA game was the first where Booty was under serious pressure:
Yeah, it really was, and that's due to the run game. If you don't run the football, that's how most quarterbacks usually get hit. He's been very fortunate he hasn't got hit like that because we've had a good running game most of the year and we've been able to get quick passes off where guys have stayed out of his face. In one sense there were some good things about that. Going through that and getting back up and still taking us down there at the end.

On the running game:
You've got to be consistent. You can't have negative runs. You don't need 50-yard runs like we used to have with Reggie (Bush). You've got to have consistency, and in the UCLA game we had too many negative runs, too many runs for minus-one, minus-two. And this run game has been built over the years on not having that. We've been very consistent. We're looking for four-yard runs to keep us in manageable down and distance for our quarterback.

On USC`s three running backs to see time this year:
Chauncey Washington was really slowed early by injuries and then he had a good run of about three games where he looked like a real guy and we were real excited about it and then he hurt his ACL and played probably when he shouldn't have been playing. The last two games of the year we kept hoping he was going to come out but it just wasn't there. He's healthier now and has had time to heal up so he should be better. CJ's probably the most all-around guy. He can do a lot of things for us in the passing game and we want to incorporate him more and more the way we did with Reggie (Bush). Reggie didn't do all the things he did in his freshman year either. Emmanuel Moody's per carry average was actually the best and one of the best in the Conference prior to getting hurt. He's really a flashy guy, more of a negative-run guy but then a big play guy. The other two are more consistent where Emmanuel may lose two yards but then get 20 on the next carry. So they're all three a little different. Chauncey without injuries probably would have been the best at the time. He's more consistent, and has been around the system longer.'

WR, Steve Smith:
On Dwayne Jarrett:
I think we compliment each other well. He's gotten a lot of accolades this year, and I've been recognized a little bit, and I think we both help each other on the field. When they try to double one of us, the other one is going to make some big time plays and we're both capable of doing big things.

On UCLA Loss:
We`re ready to play. We've been working hard, and that loss is gone now, it's over. The game is in the new year and we want to start the year off right.

On having something to prove:
Sure, I think we do. The last game the offensive line struggled, we didn't have much time to throw the ball and get people open. It was tough. We work as a whole unit. If we get open and the offensive line doesn`t block, then things just don`t work. We want to show the whole world that we're good as a whole unit.

C, Ryan Kalil:
On getting Chauncey Washington:
It's very important, especially this year. One of our setbacks to our run game this year has not been the talent level, because we've had very talented running backs in this year. Obviously loosing Reggie (Bush), you know everyone saw what he's capable of doing, but I think the biggest thing we lose from guys like Reggie is experience. These guys' ability to understand the running game, understand the plays, and how to read the holes is the biggest thing that has killed us in the run game. It's hard, we push these young guys to learn so much in so little time and they do the best they can. Like I said, talent wise they all have it from DJ to Booty, to Stafon (Johnson), to Al Bradford, they all have a very special talent about them. But the experience that guys like Chauncey Washington have just really helps everything out.

On loss to UCLA:
It was just an off day. There really is no one answer. I mean, you can look at film and point fingers here and there, but the bottom line was not everyone was on the same page, and that hurts. We just couldn't get on it. Sometimes we start fast, a little bit too fast and get out of rhythm that way, sometimes we start to slow.

That's just something we've always learned how to do, is move on and it hasn't happened too often, because we haven't lost too many games since I've been here. It's all you can do. It sucks, obviously, we didn't want it to happen that way, and we didn't want to end it that way, but it happens. Little things kill us. Penalties, turnovers, you can't have those things and expect to win football games, no matter who you're playing.

On having another game:
That's the best thing about it. It's not like a Texas game where you've got to wait a whole off season to get back on and prove yourself worthy. We get another chance and again, it's a great opponent too and we love that it's here.

On Michigan:
I think speed is on our side. One of things they have is a lot of big guys, a lot of tough guys, and guys that we're to have to isolate and move around. Guys like Woodley, who is a big guy, strong guy and he hustles. He cares a lot about his team and has a lot of heart about the game and that kind of thing, those kind of qualities and aspects rub off on to the players and you can tell that there is an excitement about their defense and football team that they really care about and that's something we're going to have to match and do a great job of in order to win this football game.

They have size on their side, and I think the biggest thing for us is going to be having to get at `em, get at `em, have a lot of tempo. As far as the opponents and they way they play, they are no where near the tempo that we have. That's what is going to be the key , the fact of the matter is will we get that tempo up, that's what is going to be the biggest key to that game, and I think we will. As long as we remain focused, we'll do a great job.

WR, Dwayne Jarrett:
On getting past the loss to UCLA:
I mean, it's almost like its something you have to do. You have to be forced to move on and look past that and I think if you sit and dwell on it, history is going to repeat itself. That is what we've done, We had that week off to get over it, and then we went back to work. We're over that loss and we've been focusing on Michigan ever since and we're ready to play.

On the game's X-factor:
You lose your last game and you're going on to a bowl game, so I think the team that recovers the fastest, and focus on the little things, that counts the most. The team that takes that and maximizes it, I think is the team that will eventually win the bowl game.

On the Michigan Defense:
They' re pretty talented all around. Their front four, they definitely have some great guys there. Their linebackers are definitely solid, they have some real studdish guys, real big and thick, and they make plays on the ball. Their corners are pretty good,. I don't really see a weakness in their team, but you definitely have to use what you can to develop your game plan, and I think that's what we're going to do. We're just going to worry about us, execute our plays, and you know we're got playmakers on offense, so we're just going to try and make our plays.

QB, John David Booty
On following Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart:
I had to follow two national players of the year in high school and then two Heisman winners here so I'm kind of used to having to step into those roles or follow guys. SC's the place I wanted to go and I knew what I'd be going against and what I'd be facing and I welcomed that.

On Michigan`s front seven:
They're very good. I think they're coached well. They're very big and strong and fast and he did take quite a beating in that game but that's football at times. Sometimes it's not at all but then others it seems like you're under flight the whole time. But I feel like we have a good gameplan going in and hopefully we can keep me off my butt a little bit because we've definitely got to seal guys to make big plays. If we can block and run the ball well, which I believe we can.

On returning to the Rose Bowl:
It will be my third one to be a part of and first as a starter so I kind of know what the build up is all about leading up to the Rose Bowl, so I'm excited to get out and play in my first one.

On if they have anything to prove:
I don't think we have to prove it to other people, I think we have to prove it to ourselves. It's all about us and we want to get this taste out of our mouths and get back on the winning track. We're really not trying to prove anything to anybody else.

On if he figured out why the offense struggled vs. UCLA:
I really can't. I've thought about it for quite some time and I kind of had to finally let it go and not worry about it anymore. I've got to focus on what we've got going now. I really can't answer that, I don't know why that happened, but that's why you play the game. You hate to lose that one but you've got to move on.

On if there`s been anything this year he didn`t expect:
I didn't want to lose those two that I did. That's the only thing I wasn't expecting. I felt we had the guys to go undefeated, which I do believe we did. I think those two losses we were to blame in a way, but we can't look back at the past because we've got a big game and we've got to get ready.

On Michigan`s front four possibly being the best Michigan`s had:
They look that way. Watching on tape they're really fast and big and the big guys can bull rush up the middle and then speed rush on the outside. Usually teams have one or the other and you can move outside or step up but it looks like with them you can't really do either one so it's going to be important for us to be physical.

On what grade he would give himself this season:
At times it's been a better grade than others. But I'd probably give myself a `B', knowing what I want from myself. I think there's a lot of room for improvement this offseason. It hasn't even been a year since my back surgery so this offseason will be big or me as far as my body is concerned as well. I don't think I'm the player yet that I want to be or that I know that I can be so I've got to get working hard after this game.

On the importance of using the game as a boost for next season:
I think it's very important because if we do win, I think going into next season we'll have a good shot at being preseason number one, with all the guys we have coming back. But not only that, just for the young guys to get a bowl victory under their belt and get that much more experience with success.

LT, Sam Baker
On what makes Michigan's defensive line so tough:
They're just big old guys that play hard, that's the biggest thing. I don't expect any big surprises. In terms of game plans, I think they'll probably just play their defense and we'll play our offense.

On the offense`s keys to the game:
The biggest key will just be execution. Execution on every play. Each man has to be accountable.

Michigan Defensive Press Conference
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Rose Bowl Press Conference

Michigan Defensive Coordinator, Ron English
Opening Statement:
I just want to start off by saying that on behalf of our defense and team, that we're excited to be here, we're happy to be here. Obviously, we're playing a great football team, with great tradition much like ours that has been at the top of the college football world for the last three or four years. It's going to be a great challenge for us, particularly defensively with all of the talent and skills they have on offense, but again we're happy to be here.

On practice:
The first day we didn't do very well, for whatever reason, but as the week has gone we've done a great job of practicing. I think we'll pick it up another degree today. Today is a Tuesday practice for us, and this is our game week and we're excited to get out there. I'm excited to see how we perform today, because we really look at practice as an indication of how we'll perform on Saturday. So, the preparation is going pretty well.

On the Ohio State game:
That game was that game, and that was a long time ago. We have reviewed some tapes of what happened to us, but basically, we didn't perform like we're capable of. We did not function the way we functioned all year. We were out of character. We played out of character in that game, we've addressed it, we've moved on, and we did that a long time ago.

On deterring the team from peaking too soon:
First off, we typically have come out to California around the 20th, we came out the 22nd, our first practice was on the 23rd, we did that a couple of days and had a day off. So, I think the biggest thing we've done is matched up our schedule to a game week schedule. Our kids know that yesterday was Monday, today is Tuesday, tomorrow is Wednesday, Thursday, then Friday, so forth and so forth. So I think when you get into that kind of a mode, it's easy for the kids to peak at the right time.

CB, Leon Hall
On USC`s receiving corps compared to Ohio State:
USC is a whole different group. Ohio State didn't have a Jarrett-type of receiver that could go up and get the ball. He and Smith complement each other very well. Jarrett can put himself between the ball and the defender and if he gets that position then it's almost 100% that he's going to get the ball. He has great hands and long arms and can body you and box you out to get the completion.

On being to his third Rose Bowl:
It is a little unique but it would be much better to win one.

On confusing the USC offense:
We've got to keep them off-balance and disguise our defense. You have to keep Booty guessing so that he doesn't know what coverages he's facing. We want to keep them back on their heels.

On embracing the challenge:
If you want to be any type of great player you've got to love challenges like this.

On how Michigan`s receivers prepare the defense:
We've got a couple receivers similar to Steve Smith. Mario (Manningham) and (Steve) Breaston both can do a lot of the same things as Smith so we go up against similar talent day-in and day-out in practice and that helps.

On rebounding from last defensive outing:
We played out of character against Ohio State. Our main goal right now is to be known as a great defense, so we've got to come back and show that that was not who we are against OSU.

S, Jamar Adams:
On if he believes the Big-10 is more physical while the Pac-10 is faster:
When I was in high school I probably felt that way too, but when I got to the Big-10 and saw the speed I realized it's not really a big difference. We get players from all over the country so the speed shouldn't be an issue. Bobby Bowden once said that a guy that can run a 4.3 second 40 just means he can get out of position faster.

On if he`s disappointed on not getting a second shot at Ohio State:
Everyone wants a chance to correct their mistakes. I'd like to go back to second grade and study a little harder for some of those spelling bees I had. But we've moved on and are focusing on correcting the mistakes for this game and using that as a springboard to next year.

On USC`s receivers:
I'd say they're the finest in the country. They have great talent and great schemes and that is a lethal combination. I am extremely excited to compete against them because we at Michigan have a great tradition of defensive backs. We've got the only defensive back to take the Heisman so we have no fear at all. I've been wanting to play USC all my college career. They played us in this game the year before I got here, and they've been winning national titles and been one of the best programs in the country and you want to play the best.

On Steve Smith and defending USC`s receivers:
(Smith) can break a defensive back down by knowing where their leverage is and breaking their leverage. He knows coverages and where to sit down in the zone most effectively. He is a very polished receiver and is not going to get flustered. We've just got to execute and not give them anything. That's when they can look like All-Americans. We've got to make them workfor everything.

On USC in comparison to other opponents:
They've got some similarities, but I think USC is a whole different group. OSU didn't really have a Dwayne Jarrett type receiver, where he can go up and get the ball over you, 6-3, 6-4 whatever he is. I just think they compliment each other really well. Dwayne Jarrett is a big guy that goes up for the ball. Whenever he gets between the ball and defender, he's 100 percent probably going to catch the ball. Then his compliment is Steve Smith, the most fastest guy on the field. I think that's going to be major hard on the defense, you've got to realize who you're going up against and get your mind set.

On the importance of winning this game:
I tell a lot of guys on the team that this is the first game of next year. Of course, you lose this game, you go into the rest of the season with a sour taste. A lot of guys forget about the 11-game winning streak we were on, a lot of people forget about when we went to Penn State and won on the road, forget about going to Notre Dame and winning on the road, people forget about a lot of positive things that happened throughout the year. But if you come out here, win this game, you go into the next year training much more happier, and the media is of course behind you because they feel like you're going to have a great season next year. It's really important for us because it is the first game of next year. This is definitely the next step this team needs to take. Since I've been here, we haven't won a bowl game and it's imperative that we win this game, we need to do what we know we can do, and play like we know we can play.

ILB, Dave Harris
On USC's QB, John David Booty:
He's their leader. When he's hot, the team is hot. They go out and play a good game.

On USC's C, Ryan Kalil:
He's one of the best centers in the country. He's very athletic for a center, he runs very well, he's a great footer, he gets up on the second level very fast and he's their anchor. He's good.

DE, LaMarr Woodley
On Ohio State performance:
We gave up a lot of rushing yards, a lot of missed tackles, a lot of blown times in that game that we haven't done all year, but we did it in the last game of the season. So we have one last chance to prove ourselves. They are definitely a good offense, their QB is not as mobile as Troy Smith was, so that's the biggest difference in their offense and Ohio State's offense.

On receiving the Lombardi Award:
It definitely means a lot, to be one of the first guys in Michigan history to win the award. I knew that none of that was possible without the help of my teammates get there, so I definitely give them the honor as well. I wouldn't call it uncomfortable at all, to get awarded, that's how it is in any sport to get an individual award. You just know that it wasn't just you that got yourself there, it was the help of your teammates; it's always the help that gets you the awards in anysport.

On the tape from USC's loss to UCLA:
That wasn't the only game we watched, that was one of them, but you've kind of got to look throughout the whole season how teams got to the quarterback, or made certain plays. That was really the focus. UCLA was putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, 44 was giving up the ball pretty well, but they were mostly putting pressure on the quarterback. It definitely gives you encouragement when you see guys play your position, doing some of the things that you do, you kind of get an idea in the end that I can do the same thing they've done. It's all about getting a scheme and running it in the game.

OLB, Shawn Crable
On the pressure to win:
I don't know if we've got a point to prove, but we want to prove something every time we go out. We want to prove that we're a dominant defense and we can play well. So every chance we get to play is a chance to prove ourselves.

On the Ohio State tape:
We got to watch it twice, we got to watch it on our own, and then we got to watch it with our coach. When you watched it on your own after the game, you were kind of disappointed. But when you watched it the coaches, they didn't make it into a 'you did this wrong', they told you where you could get better.

On USC's QB, John David Booty:
If he was a scrambler, we'd probably still blitz him. I won't say that it makes it easier, because he's a good quarterback, but when someone is standing back there that's where he's at. I think he's a good quarterback and I'm looking forward to playing him tough.

On the hype surrounding the upcoming game:
There is a lot of hype in this one, a lot of hype compared to years past because both teams had a chance to be at the national championship and everyone is probably like both teams had their shot, and lost their shot. I think it's going to be a battle. Their defense is great, their offense is great, but I think they have a very tough defense. I think people think we have a good defense, and it will be a defensive game. I don't look for it to be high scoring.

On being at the Rose Bowl:
I think you just kind of put it out of your mind. At this point, if you concentrate on being in Glendale, then you know you're really not going to play well here because here is where we are. I think there is no other place we'd rather be. I mean, we could be at other places, but we're excited to be here. Just having a chance to play in a bowl game is a gift in itself. There is a lot of people that go, 11-0, 12-0, and don't get to see a bowl game, so I think it's just gift.

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