Pete Carroll Talks About Saturday's Game At Washington

Sept. 25, 2007

September 25, 2007

COACH CARROLL: Just setting up the week, we were real pleased with last week's performance, and we want to build on this start in the Pac 10 by coming back and finding a real solid level of consistency in a number of areas. We're going to work real hard to try and recreate the kind of play that we had in a lot of areas and fix some things, as well.

I think we're making good progress, and I still feel like it's a team coming together, and it is in progress. We're still finding ourselves and getting a feel for who's making the plays and who we're counting on. I mean, the players are looking at the players and the coaches are looking at the players, as well.

But I like the energy, like the level of intensity that we're bringing to the game. I was really thrilled with what we did in covering kicks. I thought it sent a message about how ready we were to play that football game, and I hope we can continue to call on that week in and week out. It was an inspiration; it was a marker that we have prepared really well. Our minds and hearts are in the game, and I think that kind of sets the tone for offense and defense, as well.

We made a big deal about it in the last couple weeks and really think we're making some progress. But that doesn't mean anything unless we do it again. We take on a team up in Washington that really came out of the chutes flying and really had a chance to get Ohio State. They played really well with them, a really good, tough Ohio State team with a ton of athletes, and they hung right with them. At the end Ohio State kind of put together some drives and got the game in hand, but they played very well.

And they had a chance to get the game last week at UCLA last week on the road, as well, and some big plays kind of happened and some really out of the ordinary plays occurred and they fell off. But this is a challenging, difficult football team that you can't help but watch these guys and totally focus on the quarterback.

The quarterback has just lit it up for a red shirt freshman, as good a first showing, first four or five games, as a guy could have, I think, in terms of controlling a game, displaying his competitiveness, his leadership, his athletic ability, fantastic speed at the quarterback spot and a big time arm, too. They've built the offense around the quarterback, as they had done last year with Isaiah Stanback, but Jake is just for obvious reasons, they know they have a great one in this kid.

He poses a lot of problems, and I'm having trouble seeing anything else when I'm looking at them. They're playing good defense, they've got good receivers. Louis Rankin is a heck of a running back, but Jake just steals the show. So we're going to have to do everything we can to slow him down and keep him from being the factor that controls the football game. I think he's that good.

In the years to come he's going to be just a remarkable player. Fortunately we're getting him in his first year. Get him in years two and three, he's going to be ridiculous. We're really impressed with him.

This is a game in a difficult stadium; it's a difficult setting up there. Their crowd was cranking early in the year. I'm sure they'll be just as jacked and loaded up for us coming up there. I'm sure Tyrone is looking for rain. We are, too; since we played so well here in the rain last week in LA, we feel like we're well prepared. We're also going to turn on the sprinklers probably one day in practice this week just to make sure we're ready for it.

We're looking forward to a really good match up. This is the first chance to go on the road in the Pac 10, and we'd like to perform really at a high level again and take the experience from the Nebraska game on the road with us this time and know that we can play under difficult circumstances and show out a good game. We're looking forward to it.

Q. Did you try to recruit Jake Locker?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we did. We got started on him early. We found him in the springtime and were interested in getting after it, but he really decided early that he was going to stay in the state and stay at UW and was really confirmed right from early on that he was going to do that. He's an excellent baseball player, as well. He's a 90 mile an hour pitcher and a fantastic baseball player. I'm sure he could play two sports if they want him to there. We knew early on that he wasn't interested in leaving.

Q. Is it your plan to use Fred Davis as you did last year?
COACH CARROLL: No, it just turned out that way. People have said to us in the past do you have plans to involve the tight end in the game plan. We always do. Sometimes it's three or four balls a game. Last week as it just turned out it was just going Freddie's way and John David was on it, and the calls kept coming where he was getting open. It was not to just show off what Freddie can do by any means. We don't really do that in our game plans.

The good part was when he was available we took advantage of it, and I thought that was a great part of the plan that fit together from the coaching staff, and they did a nice job with that.

Q. You're banged up in the defensive backfield and they've got a defensive quarterback, so how are you working the DBs?
COACH CARROLL: What's really going to happen is don't count Cary Harris out. He will not accept the fact that he's hurt. He tried to practice yesterday, and they had to pull him off the practice field, and he's going to try again today and they're going to do it again. But by the end of the week he may come back. He didn't have any damage from the MRI reports, which is what he was telling them anyway, that he felt okay and he was all right. But he did dislocate his shoulder. But this kid is tough and he's going to battle to get back out there.

The good part for us is Shareece Wright has been playing a tremendous amount, and right now while Cary is not able to play, Shareece will start, and we feel very comfortable with that. It does call on Mozique McCurtis to play in the nickel situations, and Vincent Joseph will be available in that regard, too. But otherwise we're not that far off from having everybody because Cary told me today he's playing, so we'll find out and see what happens.

Q. How about Brian Cushing?
COACH CARROLL: He was pretty hobbled yesterday. It's going to be really day to day. It's going to be a long shot for him to get back this week, but he, like Cary, is not going to accept that and he's going to try to fight his way back out there.

Q. Can you explain what happens over the course of the week how you determine a running back rotation?
COACH CARROLL: No, I'm not going to do that because I can't. I don't know how to tell you. We have plays that we design with guys in mind, and it kind of varies week to week, and then we start the game and we start playing guys and then we go with who feels right and who's hot and that's there's no science to that that I can explain to you. It's just kind of a feel. Really, I make the call on that and go with the guys I'll confer with (Steve) Sarkisian on it, but I really much just take account of what's going on and then once we get through the early part of the game, then we're looking and feeling it out.

If you noticed, like Stafon Johnson, I think, got his shot in the second quarter because we threw the ball so much in the first quarter, he didn't even get in until the second quarter. But that wasn't by design at all, that was just by numbers of carries and how things went.

But there isn't a plan for I wouldn't share that with you anyway.

Q. I guess what I mean is it based on competition in practice, who practices well versus who doesn't? I know you don't place much emphasis on who's starting versus who's not. Is it a style type of thing based on a match up?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah (laughter).

Q. Kyle Moore leads the team in interceptions. Will that continue (laughter)?
COACH CARROLL: Well, I hope it continues. That would be great. He really is a factor, and it's showing up more so. He had a big pick last year if you remember in a game, a great play on a wheel route up the sidelines. He's an excellent athlete, but at 6'6', he's a big target into the boundary where he does a lot of his dropping. He's a factor.

He's knocked a couple balls down, also, that weren't intercepted, tipped one that was, so he's been a big factor for us. I don't know, if they keep throwing it at him, he's going to keep grabbing it. We'll see what happens.

But it's unusual. But in our system, he is dropping he's in coverage a lot, so it's he's very much likened to an outside backer on 3 4 defense in the style of play that we have. We can see that the big guy does cause problems for them, so we're hoping he can continue to have some swats and knock some balls down and be a part of that again.

He also picked up a fumble, too, in that game a couple weeks ago, three weeks ago. So he's done a lot of good stuff and done a lot of good damage in the turnovers.

Q. You don't do as much of that with Everson Griffin. Is that just because he's younger?
COACH CARROLL: Right, that's some of it, but that's not that's just early. He can do all of the stuff every son is a particularly good dropper because he's so fast, covers a ton of ground. It's just a big difference being 6'6' with a really long arm span.

Q. Can you talk about Washington's decision to build their offense around Locker and sort of the benefits of it and also the drawbacks to throwing a red shirt freshman in there?
COACH CARROLL: First off, it's just a continuation of their offense really because Isaiah Stanback was the whole show last year and they had a hard time without Isaiah when he got hurt last year, so this is not a departure in any way from what they've been doing. But the fact you bring up these red shirt freshmen, they red shirted him for a reason I'm sure, to get him a lot of turns and let him come along slowly without the benefit of competition hanging around him and see if that would be the right process to maximize his first chance.

It came up this year and it's worked out beautifully. They're doing a lot of things. I'm sure they'll do more in the future but they have not restricted their installation much. It's very much the same style of offense as last year with some additional things that they've done. Yeah, so it's a lot to put on a kid, but this is a very, very, very unique kid. He's not a normal freshman out there playing. He just doesn't look like he's physically strong and stout, he runs aggressively and tough, he's really a special talent.

I'm sure he's invited the work and the confidence and the spread of the offense; he's a very bright kid. Like I said, he's a well rounded athlete that allows him to do a lot of things, throwing the ball to him, they're trying to get him to catch pass, as well. The guy just does everything. I think he's that unique that he needs to be the guy at this time; it's obvious.

Q. We saw some glimpses of McKnight's talent. Did that show up on the film, as well?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, Joe was he got seven or eight carries in the game, and the best thing about it is he got them kind of in a row so he could start playing football and get comfortable with it. If you can imagine, this is a guy that never came off the field in high school, played everything, was always out there and was always in the middle of all the stuff, run and pass, and then to spot play him, it's hard. It's hard on him at times. That's why we left him in there, but Joe showed some great quickness, he made guys miss, he ran tough. He looked very elusive on the punt return, as well, so those are the things that we see. We didn't throw the ball to him at all, but he can really catch, too, as well. He's just got a lot of variety and stuff that he can do, and we're real excited about his that we're getting him going. We'll continue to look for ways to get him the football as we go through this process of kind of unveiling Joe to college football, really.

Q. Did you watch the Monday night game last night?
COACH CARROLL: I did get to see some of it during our recruiting calls. It was really fun. When the score was close and Reggie was scoring and then LenDale scored, we were having a ball watching them, very I know it's really frustrating for Reggie right now and for his team. The turnaround from last year to this year, the highs that they were on and to have to deal with this now, but Reggie will be great at it.

For LenDale's team, I thought that the quarterback looked great. Vince continues to show that he's a winner. He's got his own way of doing it, but it's very obvious that he's a big factor. That's a very exciting program. Jeff is doing a great job, and they've got to be really excited about their future.

Q. Do you talk to all of your players who go to the NFL and say, look, it's not going to be like it is here necessarily?
COACH CARROLL: Oh, yeah. If you want, just call any of them and ask them. They know, it's different. We hear from them all the time. You know, they're loving the life that they have, but it's not it's a different experience entirely than what they had here in college. They're surprised by it. No matter how much we tell them, they're still surprised by it, being the young guy on the team and being the guy that when everybody is leaving the locker room, they don't know where to go and everybody else does, or seems like they do. It's a very unique experience for those guys, and it's a humbling experience for the most part, too. It's not anywhere near like what it was like being in college.

Q. You held a good offensive team to only 14 points (inaudible).
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, to play good run defense you have to play with great discipline because that's what it is, it's play after play doing the right thing. It isn't just about hitting guys and being tough. You have to be in the right spots and fit the running game up with precision. Our guys are really good at this and they understand; they've been around a long time. We don't feel like we have to pressure people to stop the running game, we can stay in our base defenses and play good technique and play really hard. We're off to a very good start against the running game.

When you do that and you couple that with staying on top and not letting people score easy with the passing game and you already are a tough defense, that's basically where we are right now. We're playing good, tough defense. We're hard to run and you can't get behind us. When you do it like that, then you work on your other areas. We need to improve on 3rd down, we need to get the football more than we are. Hopefully that will come.

We're real pleased with our progress. We're having a lot of fun playing with these guys and coaching them. They're loving the spirit of the game. They're really, really pumped up and playing at a high level. I think we're just growing and finding out what we can do and what we need to do to be really effective.

Right now playing together with our offense is an important way to do this. We can try to feature the defensive guys and try to make a bunch of plays happen at the expense of field position and other stuff, and I'm not doing that. We're going to play to win and do the things that complement this offense. I think our offense is really ready to roll and be consistent, and John David has been perfect in the position of leading this offense. If we can play off of one another, regardless of what the numbers are and the points and all that stuff, I think we can play really good football, and I think that's what we're trying to do right now.

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