Rose Bowl Media Day Quotes
Dec. 31, 2006
2007 Rose Bowl QuotesUSC Media Day Press ConferenceDecember 30, 2006
Head Coach, Pete Carroll
On the build up to the game:
The build up to the game and the focus on the game has really taken over all of our attention. It's a great challenge that we have against a terrific team and you have to get into it, you have to go for it or you won't have a chance. It is kind of interesting that both teams are in a similar situation and I'm always trying to figure out who as the edge on this deal and I think it could be equal. We're ready to go, we're excited about it and pumped up and worked like crazy to get to ready for this game. It's really just that feeling you get and you have to focus on that.
On being in the Rose Bowl:
I feel like This is awesome it's great to be a part of this games. It's a game that we shoot for, It's the opportunity that our program is guided towards. We have the chance to represent our conference and play in a perfect match up with a Big Ten team with the stature and history, soit's a beautiful opportunity for us.
On their running game:
It's really hard to tell because we haven't had the young guys that we could have benefited from. The young guys like Nixon and Chauncey (Washington). Chauncey's just had a very frustrating season we only had maybe about two weeks of this season where he was full speed. Other thanthat, he didn't have the weeks prior to prepare to be in top shape. It's very frustrating because we didn't have that experience and balance in the young guys. But what happened through the process, was like a couple different seasons for our running backs, Emmanuel Moody emerged and helped us quite a bit and we were fortunate to see CJ Gable start as early. He had a very good start to the season and finish very strong for us, and we gained a lot of experience during the year that puts us in a situation now where we feel like we're okay. We're not just throwing young guys to the wolves here so it's exciting to see that we've come this far but where it is, I think we're in the middle of it. I don't think we're at the high end of production ability and we're certainly well past where we were at the start. I'm hoping we get a good solid attack and some balance on the passing game then we'll have the opportunity to move the ball wellagainst these guys who have a great rushing defense. It will be a great challenge for us.
On aspiring for a national title game:
I know it sounds kind of strange to you, but we've never openly aspired to win the national championship through the BCS system because we can't control any of that other than by winning. We can control winning the Pac-10. We can control going to the Rose Bowl, so that's what we challenge ourselves with that goal every year. When the opportunity arises to getinvolved in a national championship game and national championship finish, we love it. It's awesome, it's the best you can get. But because of the system it's just never been one that I've set out as a goal. You can win every game and not be there, so I don't think that it's the rightobjective for us. You champion the cause when you get the opportunity and all of that is taken care of by the way that you play each week, so we don't even talk about it. When you get the opportunity to position yourself 11, 12, 14 weeks into the season, then here you go, and we'regoing to go for it. We had the opportunity at the national championship, and we didn't make it and that's all there is to it. I don't know if that satisfies your concern, but I haven't talked about it in the past and I'm not going to talk about it now.
On the expectation to win every game:
I love being in a situation where your expectations are that way, I wouldn't want it any other way. George Siefert said it a long time ago, you want to aspire to be 8-an-8 and have a good year from a losing program or do you want to aspire to win a championship, and that's the same idea he was talking about. We would much rather be a position to win every game then not have the chance. You can't go for it, all you can do is win the game, and then they vote you in. That's the issue I have, it's like a beauty pageant. It's like your number one ranking at the beginning of the season, that's a popularity contest in a sense. It's a groundswell thought and consideration for your program, but that doesn't really mean anything other than that's how everyone else's votes go, it's not on the team itself.
On dealing with a loss:
We have been in a situation over the years a few of times. I really think its bigger than just that win, you have to have the mentality that allows for the things that do occur close to the end of the season. Big blowout wins, sometimes frustrating victories, sometimes shocking losses, lastsecond losses. Even if you get in trouble and you lose badly, which we haven't done, you have to have a mentality that allows you to deal with those situations, which I think we have. That mentality just kicks in again. It's like if you have a bad first quarter, what are you going to do the second quarter. If you have a bad first half, how are you going to talk to them at half time. If you lose a game, how are you going to talk to them. If you win, how are you going to talk to them. We have a way of doing that and doing that, we kick right back in to that we trust in the system, we trust what we've done in the past with positions where we have a rut and that is somewhat, it's not uncomfortable for us, but we understand it. We understand how to do this. So the fact that we got beat a few years ago and won 30 something games after that and we went the longstretch before losing to the Longhorns. We didn't let the loss affect the next week and so that's what's most important. There is nothing else that's important, it's how you take the next step after what's just occurred. You can't do anything about what just happened, but what we can do is take the next step in a positive way. We can get redirected, we can understand what our issues were and make sure that we correct and fix and redirect it and get back on track and don't let what happened disrupt the way you believe in the process and how we do things, that's what's most important. That's what's most challenging and I think that's an aspect of managing a team. I think we get it because we've proven it. I trust that we've got it well ahead. I'm not so sure that everybody has a way to do it, but unfortunately, we have a way to figure out how to deal with losses, and that's okay. This is a great challenge or us, it's a great challenge for me to guide this team and get it done so that we get back on track. Hopefully the players can respond and we can do it.
FL Steve Smith
On controlling the pace of the game:
We want to keep our foot on the pedal and make the big plays all night.
On reviewing the tape from their last Rose Bowl match up against Michigan:I don't think it matters much because that was a completely different team with completely different players. It is something that can get some confidence from knowing that we can play the Big Ten, compete with them. This is a humble team so we're just getting ready for the big game.
SLB Dallas Sartz
On Michigan's QB Chad Henne and their offensive line:
You're always trying to get pressure on the quarterback whenever you're out there. It's going to be tough because they've got because they've got a great offensive line with two All-Americans out there and the big guys up front so it's going to be a challenging task for us to work into ourgame plan and figure out what to do to make some plays.
On preparing for Michigan's offense:
We're trying to do it all out there. Linebackers are basically the guy that would be able to stop the run and stop the pass too. When you're out there in the game, it's pretty nice if you can just try and neutralize one of the offensive attacks, whether it's a run or a pass. It'd be great to shut down a player like (Mike) Hart and help do what we can.
Describe Mike Hart in two words:
C Ryan Kalli
On being a leader:
I think I feel more responsibility, especially being such a young team. We lose guys like Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White, key players to our football team and we replace them with guys that are very talented, very quick, especially in the running back position, but I think that the thing we lose most with those guys is the experience. The experience of play, understanding how plays work, and how to read plays and things like that. But also the experience of how to win football games and we have a chance to do that at our school and that's our preparation. Our practices are high intensity week in and week out and so as a senior, as a leader, I think my biggest responsibility is to show these guys how to do that week in and week out. I know a lot of times, especially last year, we made winning look real easy, but the truth of the matter is that it's anything but that. The focus you have to have, to win these games is so extreme, the only way to let these guys know is to show them week in a week out. My biggest thing as a leader this year isto lead by example, to show these guys what it takes and keep working and working. Pushing guys that I kind of see slacking, that aren't pushing themselves, and leaving my mark on everything. I feel we've done a great job of that this year so far minus the last game, the UCLA game, but know obviously taken that, learn from that and show them that it happens and don't focus or bring attention to it week in and week out. We dealt with that a long time ago and we're well into this game and very excited about the challenge ahead in facing a really good Michigan football team.
On if he feels confident in the pass protection:
I do. We've done a pretty good job all year. Some point out the one game versus UCLA, which really wasn't all that bad in the first place. But that was the only time out we might have struggled at all with the pass rush, so I think we'll be fine.
On motivation for the game:
We just want to win. It's something that we're used to over the last five years. We enjoy it and Coach Carroll has always preached to us what it takes to win. Having lost the last one, we don't want to go into the off-season with that bitter taste in our mouths.
On USC`s receivers vs. Michigan`s secondary:
They have great players but ours are pretty good as well. So it's just good versus good so we'll see how it plays out. Every time they've played against good players they've stepped up to the occasion. There was a little stretch there where we didn't have either one of them in the game, so that was a little tougher on me. I hate losing those guys. But now I've had them for a couple weeks and I've been throwing to them for several years now so we're all pretty tight and have a good idea what the other one is going to do.
On USC`s offense:
With all the receivers we have, it's going to be hard to cover just one main receiver. We have a lot of great receivers and then our running backs are definitely going to be healthy, so I think it's going to be a challenge to try and stop our offense. They have a great defense, but I think we have too many weapons. Can we get to a certain spot, or stretch the field vertically? It's going to be a great challenge for us as well as for them.
On passing game chemistry:
I think it progressed great. In the beginning of the year it was kind of hard for us to click, just because we weren't all healthy, especially me. I was going through injuries in the first half of the season but the games I was (healthy), you definitely saw the difference where I put up some big numbers. The same thing with Steve (Smith), when he wasn't hurt--he had a little nagging injury--he put up numbers all the time. So I definitely think when we're all healthy and working together you see the difference and that was the second half of the season. It was a big difference in our offense and our explosion.
On passing game strategy:
Whatever we can take I think we're going to run with it. Whether it's deep, short game, whatever they decide to play. The first half we'll see where they go and go into halftime, make adjustments and come back out and get into the meat of things. Whatever they give us we're going to take. I think they play a lot of zone coverage sometimes. They switch it up man-to-man here and there, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before. We played against all that this whole year, playing Notre Dame and definitely Cal, they switched up their defensive schemes. So we'redefinitely prepared for it.
LB Keith Rivers
On Michigan`s Mike Hart:
He's a great back. Kind of has a body shape of a Maurice Jones-Drew kind of guy. He has a great offensive line blocking for him. Watching film, he was getting about five yards before he even got touched, so it's a great challenge.
On what concerns them about Michigan`s offense:
Just how good the offensive line is. Obviously they've got playmakers with Manningham, Breaston, Chad (Henne), Hart and whatnot, but the offensive line is great and they do a good job keeping on guys and keeping them blocked so Mike Hart can hit the hole really fast.
On proving they are still an elite team:
Every time we step on the field it's an opportunity to show we're a great football team, and we're still dominant. We look forward to this challenge. We've seen articles about (USC dropping from elite status), and it kind of makes you a little mad. But that's why we have Monday toshow what we can do.
On how Michigan`s Chad Henne affects a defense with audibles:
Us linebackers are the leaders of the defense so we make all the checks and make all the calls, so when he's making checks we've got to figure out what's going on too so we can help everybody else play faster. It actually helps us play faster.
On what he expects from Michigan`s offensive line:
It depends on the situation. Every team has a different blocking scheme. Sometimes they place the responsibility on a guy to block one-one-one, sometimes they don't. But when you do get a one-on-one block, you need to beat it. That's what we've been working on, because you don't get a lot of those opportunities. It's going to be a challenge to get there because of their level of protection but we know we can get there.
On what Michigan does best:
They run the ball really well. Their running back is patient and he trusts his offensive line. They're a good team, but I'm not going to say they're Super Bowl champions or the best team in college football. They run some good things, but if we come to play we should be able to stopthem.
Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr
On any lingering disappointment:
If you're not excited about playing in the Rose Bowl, playing against a team like USC, representing the Big-10 in the greatest tradition in college football, something is missing.
USC played the most difficult schedule in college football in my opinion, with their nonconference opponents and the entire Pac-10 schedule. Particularly towards the end of the season, it was very difficult from an emotional standpoint. We played a difficult schedule as well, so both teams are no strangers to big games. I don't think anyone in the country has done a better job than Pete Carroll and USC over the past five years, if you look at what they've done on the field.
On Michigan`s Rose Bowl heritage:
If you look at the history of Michigan football, playing in the first ever Rose Bowl, this has always been the goal of our program. Bo Schembechler late in his career would get criticized for not winning a national championship and people said his goal was to win the Big-10, and he would say that you have to win the Big-10 and win this game to have any chance at the national title. Our history has been so dominated by this bowl game and that stadium on that day, so the tradition of the game would be my answer.
On Michigan's Chad Henne:
At Michigan, it seems that the evaluation of a quarterback centers on how much he wins, a lot like being a head coach. When it comes around to postseason awards and All- American teams and things like that, statistics seem to be the overriding difference in making those teams,so we haven't had a lot of recognition. But I have been around truly special quarterbacks for a long time, enough to know when we're blessed to have one, and Chad Henne is one.
On UCLA`s defense vs. USC:
We're a different style of defense, but what impressed me most was just a tremendous intensity and a tremendous togetherness in that game. It was a really hard-fought game and I enjoyed watching it. UCLA showed a lot of resolve and determination. But as far as structure, if you can play that hard you will have a chance.
QB Chad HenneOn the challenge of playing USC:
It's definitely their front seven. Their front core linemen are very fast and talented and of course their linebackers have tremendous speed, they can almost run with a lot of the receivers in the country. We have a challenge for ourselves and those front seven, we have to protect them andget after them.
On if they are at all disappointed to not being in the title game:
I think for the first week it was. Coach Carr and the leaders on this team really came together and said we're going to a great bowl game, we're playing a great team and we have another chance to prove ourselves on the field. We feel we are the number two team, but again, we've been provingourselves all year and we have to prove ourselves again and we're going to go out there and do that on Monday.
On the feeling of playing in the Rose Bowl:
There is just so much pride and honor that goes into the game and being the quarterback of a school coming in the game is an unbelievable feeling. It's like a dream that a kid always dreams about when he's growing up. We're just glad to be here and we're going to play our hearts out.
On the pressure to win:
Definitely there's pressure out there because the last two bowl games we've lost and we haven't finished the last two seasons on the right note, so we definitely want to go out, play well, and set our season up for next year.
CB Leon Hall
On USC`s Dwayne Jarrett:
Closing off is the biggest thing against a receiver like (Jarrett). You have to push him to the sidelines, but make sure you're looking back for the ball at the same time or else you'll get pass interference called on you. Then you have to jump high enough where he can't get to it becausehe can really get up.
On USC`s Steve Smith:
Smith is a great route runner. He's been beating people on deep posts and corner routes all year long. He runs a lot of different routes out of the same look, so his route looks the same the whole way until he breaks it off with a post or a corner. You can't expect him to run the same postevery time so it will be a challenge.
DE Lamar Woodley:
On if the defense has an allowable number of points in mind:
You want to go out there and give up no points at all. The defense should keep them off the scoreboard. If our offense puts up only three points we think we should win 3-0. Our goal is always to allow no points.
On pressuring the quarterback:
We've got to get off the ball fast and put pressure on the quarterback to force him into making bad decisions with the football. If you hit a quarterback a few times it makes him think he'd better get rid of the ball faster. If all four of us up front do what we're supposed to do, we'regoing to be having a little fun in the backfield.
On USC trying to shut him down:
Sometimes if you focus too much on one guy then it's going to be the guy next to him who gets off.
OL Jake Long
On positives from Ohio State loss:
The biggest thing is that we can't complain at all about being here. We had a shot to make the title game with the automatic berth and we didn't get it done, but there were many positives from that game. We played well in a hostile environment, we hung in there all game long and we learnedfrom that and hopefully will be even better this time faced with another hostile environment on Monday, although we'll have a lot more fans this time around.
RB Michael Hart
On playing USC:
They definitely the best defense we've faced all year, hands down. The best line backing core we've seen all year, probably the best d-line we've seen all, and their secondary core is good too. But that line backing core is incredible. They're all probably going to play in the NFL, including Brian Cushing. He's a linebacker too playing d-end, so it just shows what kind of athletic ability they have out there on the field.On reviewing the tape from their last Rose Bowl match up against Michigan:It's definitely a home game for them because obviously, we're in LA. They played there before, we've played there too, but they played there a couple of weeks ago and they have a lot of fans out here. The great thing about Michigan is that we travel with a lot of people. We have a lot offans that travel, so we'll have a lot of fans there, but obviously USC being in their home city it's almost like it's a home game.
On who he tried to emulate his style from:
I used to try to be Barry, but that never happened. If anybody, I'm more like an Emmit Smith type back, not the fastest, not the biggest, not the strongest, but I get the job done.
WR Steve Breaston
On being in the Rose Bowl:
The Rose Bowl, the tradition behind it, you know it's going to be fun. You know that there are going to be two great teams and its going to be very competitive.
On their offense:
If the running game is working, we'll be able to get the safeties up in the box. If they don't come up, then we'll be able to continue to run the ball. That's why were such a good team on offense, because we're so balanced.
ILB Dave Harris
On being in the Rose Bowl:
It'd be a great feeling to win the Rose Bowl. It's a great bowl game, great tradition, a lot of great players and teams that have played in the Rose Bowl and just being here is an great opportunity.