Quotes from Coach Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 19, 2007

On the week off between games:
'We practiced well. Again it's a little different on your rhythm of things, particularly when you play on Thursday, because yesterday was a Tuesday for us and today is a Wednesday. We gave them a couple of days off, Friday and Saturday, and although they were in here Friday, we didn't practice. We worked on SC a little bit at the end of the week, but we're in our normal rhythm right now. We've practiced pretty well. One thing about our team is we've been pretty much the same all the time. It's not like we've been up and down as far as how we've practiced, our work ethic and the things that we do. We're really no different this week than we've been all year. We were the same in the nine games that we won as we were in the one that we lost, so there is no indication one way or the other as far as I'm concerned.'

On how the week helped QB Rudy Carpenter's thumb injury:
'Obviously it helped him. It was very swelled up after the UCLA game. The swelling is down. He didn't do anything up until yesterday. I thought he threw the ball very well yesterday. To me, he's very similar to where he was before we played UCLA. I really can't tell the difference. He took all the reps yesterday and I thought he threw it very well.'

On playing on Thanksgiving:
'I haven't played or coached on Thanksgiving Day in a long time. When I was in high school my dad was the coach at Cascade High School in Everett, Wash., and I played at the opposite high school. We'd play twice a year, and the last one was always on Thanksgiving Day, so that's the last time that I was ever involved in a Thanksgiving Day game. We had Thanksgiving dinner after the game, so we were able to walk. The week of the game we didn't have much conversation. To me, playing on Thanksgiving, the only college game, is pretty special. There's going to be a lot of people watching, so it will be exciting.'

On the strengths of USC's offense:
'They're very consistent. Their offensive front is outstanding. They run the football. They've got so many players. Their receiver corps is good, [Patrick] Turner is an extremely good player, good tight end [Fred Davis]. You look at them and there's not a weakness that I see, offensively. If you're going to say what is their strength on offense, it would be how they operate in the offensive front. [John David] Booty is an experienced quarterback that's been around, that's healthy now. They're healthier than they've been all year. They're just a good football team. You look at them on tape, and they're different than most. They've got a lot of talent.'

On having a chance at a Rose Bowl bid:
'Anything is possible in this game. That's why you play every Saturday. Every year you have the same goals, to try to compete for a national championship, to try to compete for a Pac-10 championship, to try to go to a bowl game, to try to have a winning season. You have all these goals that you set, and who knows what's going to happen from year to year? Did we expect to be playing for the Rose Bowl? I think our players probably did. They all do. There isn't a team in the Pac-10 that doesn't go into the season thinking that they're going to have a chance to compete and win. If somebody asked me if I would have taken where we're at, at the beginning of the season, I would say yes fast before they change their mind. We are where we are, and our guys have worked hard. Hopefully we can play as well as we can play Thursday and have an opportunity to go to that Rose Bowl. I think any time you can get to those last two games of the season and have something to play for like we're playing for, that's pretty special.'

On USC's defensive front:
'They remind me a little bit of some of the fronts I had at Miami, Warren Sapp, Cortez Kennedy and some of those guys. You take Lawrence Jackson, he's a really good player. Sedrick Ellis might be the No. 1 pick in the country coming out. Those two guys are both going to be No. 1 picks without a doubt. Their linebackers are good. You look at them defensively, and they're as good as they're ranked. Their stats show how good they are and they've got a lot of good players to do it. They play well together. They're coached very well by Nick Holt and by Pete [Carroll]. We haven't seen a defense close to it.'

On Pete Carroll:
'I've known Pete for many years, as an acquaintance, as a guy that I've respected in coaching, when he was at New England and the different places that he's been, and obviously in college and what he's accomplished at USC. When he took the USC program over, it had a ways to go. They went to the [Las] Vegas Bowl, I believe, his first year and he just kept working and working. Now they've had great success, winning national championships. Now, recruiting-wise, they pretty much have control of what they want to do. How can you not have respect for a guy like that, a program like that, and what they've done? I've known him before that ever occurred, when he was an assistant in college and in the NFL. He's always been a guy that's a football mind and a guy that really loves the game. He spends a lot of time studying it, and he's obviously very good at it.'

On whether USC's talent is the best in the country:
'I see that they've got a great deal of talent. I haven't studied all the other teams in the country, so it's hard for me to tell. I know they've got more talent than anybody that we've played. You can take that for what it's worth. They're a talented football team. Sometimes you have trouble understanding how hard it is to win every game that you play. Sometimes you're in a situation as a program, like USC, and like it was when I was at Miami, and like it is at a couple of different places, that everybody expects you to win every game. That doesn't happen. That's hard to do. So it's like Lloyd Carr. I think Lloyd Carr is one of the great coaches that's ever coached the game at Michigan. You don't go to the Rose Bowl every year, or you don't do this, now all of a sudden, you're not successful. So, sometimes things have changed over the years. USC is a great program that's been successful over the last six years and will continue to be successful. They will lose a game occasionally. That happens.'

On USC's tradition:
'SC is SC. It's unlike a lot of programs in the country. They have great tradition over the years, from John McKay to John Robinson, you can go on and on. The tradition is unbelievable. Believe me, I'm not the chamber of commerce for USC by any means, but you've also got to understand the tradition that they do have. Whoever was going to be the coach there had a chance to get it going, there's no question about that.'

On Carpenter showing emotions on the field:
'He's going to do what he does, that's just how he is. I've seen quarterbacks like him a lot. There are a lot of guys that carry it on their sleeves. There are a lot of guys that are like that. I've seen a lot of them in my career. The thing is that he is calm about is when the ball is snapped and he executes, he's got a good feeling and control over what he needs to get done. Maybe emotionally there are some things that he does, but I have no problem with that.'

On how they plan to attack USC's offensive line:
'We just have to play like we've been playing. We're not going to change anything. We're going to do what we've done defensively. We're just going to play our game. That's just how we are. People make plays on us and then we make plays on them. We've been pretty solid. I don't know that we've faced anybody quite like up front, but again, we're not bad on defense.'

On how he treats this game and its importance:
'I think the next game, every game you play, is the biggest game of your career. We don't treat it any different than any other game. We prepare the same way. The players are excited about playing the game. They understand what's going on, but as far as how we treat it, it's not like I have to tie them down in the locker room or anything like that. It will be fun for our guys. To me, you've got to have fun playing the game. To get to this opportunity for us is fun. Our guys just have to go out and play like a son-of-a-gun, have fun, and see what happens. This should be a fun time for them, to have this opportunity to play on this stage. I've said this before, when I approached them early in the year, I mentioned to them that I've been very blessed in my coaching career to have the opportunity to experience things like we're going to experience. I told them that I hoped that I could take them to places like this, where they would have this opportunity, and it's here. It's going to be fun for them, and it's fun for me to watch them react to where they're at right now. That's the fun part of coaching.'

On the recruiting benefits of a game like this:
'I don't know that it's this game in particular, but I believe that the more people hear about Arizona State and that the players that are in high school or junior college, or guys particularly in this area now that are growing up, see where we're taking this program, and they'll look at the TV and watch Rudy play or watch our guys play, and think I'd love to be a Sun Devil someday. It helps, there's no question about that.'

On injuries:
'Probably the only 'if' would be Mike Marquardt, but I would be surprised if he didn't play. Then again, we just have to wait and see. Everybody else is pretty close to being full speed.'

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