Pete Carroll-Jim Tressel Talk About Saturday's USC-Ohio State Matchup

Sept. 9, 2008

September 9, 2008

USC head coach Pete Carroll

COACH CARROLL: Well, this is a long awaited matchup for everybody, particularly for the fans of Ohio State and the fans of USC. Gosh, you guys have been on this topic for a long time with us and finally we can talk about it and be directed about it and all.

We've done the best we can for the entire offseason to stay on course with our opener, which I'm really proud of our guys for doing a great job of focusing on getting our first game under our belt. We came through and did a nice job with that.

So we've had our time, had a bye week here obviously to get ready for this game. We've done it in the same fashion we've always taken on our bye opportunities, by training the young guys, by developing our package on offense and defense and continuing to install the things we want to get done coming off of camp, and also to experiment a little bit in the game plan for this week.

Really we started yesterday with kind of a bonus Monday opportunity to start the game plan for this game. And it's well underway. We feel like we have, you know we've had plenty of time to take a look at Ohio State. We started in the off season, as we do with all of our early opponents.

It's an incredible team. They've got everybody that played for them last year playing again. They've got a great history. They've got great leadership. They've got impact, extraordinary players in all phases of their team. It makes for an unbelievable opportunity for us and a challenge for us to see if we can get a win here at the Coliseum.

The other thing that's really cool is we get to play this game at home, our first home game. For our young guys, our young players that haven't had this experience, have been dreaming about it, what a way to do it. We've all heard nothing but excitement and enthusiasm for this game. I know that the Coliseum is going to be rocking. It's going to be a huge event. You know, it's going to be really fun for us. So we're looking forward to it.

We're going to go about this week with really strong focus on how we normally do it. We're going to have a big time day today. Competition Tuesday is underway today, and away we go. We're going to throw out the best we have at this game and treat it like a championship game, just like the Virginia game was, give it everything we have, we'll regroup and figure out what's next.

We're very healthy at this time. We have just about everybody available to us. We've had rest. We've had good practices. So by the end of this week, we have no excuses in any way. We should have the opportunity to play a really good football game and we'll see if it's good enough to stand up to these guys.
You guys can ask questions if you want to.

Q. You guys are very different, but how do you think you and (Ohio State head coach Jim) Tressel are similar?

COACH CARROLL: Geez, I thought we were really similar. What do you mean by that (laughter)?

I don't know. I don't know Coach Tressel at all. I know a little bit of his background. I know of his Ohio State days mainly. He has had an extraordinary run as a coach. He's got hundreds of wins behind him...obviously, a successful formula for how to be a head coach of a big time program.

We have great respect for what they've done. We know them through recruiting, their ability to maintain a really high standard of play and performance, effort in recruiting, football and everything. You know, it's historical.

But, you know, I can't compare. I don't know. He does what he does. He's from Akron. We're from San Francisco.

Q. Do you see any similarities at all in just looking at tape, the way you guys teach the game?
COACH CARROLL: Well, there are some similarities defensively. We do a lot of things that are similar. Offensively we're much different. But we both strive to find balance in our attack, you know. We both believe in the running game. We both believe in having an offense that's going to complement your defense and work together.

They've been really, really good on defense for a long time. That fits together with playing good football I think from his perspective and mine. We both see that the same.

I think it's just good ball sense, you know. Does things really like he should, you know. I hope we do, too. We make good decisions and handle our challenges well. In the game situations, we handle similarly, hopefully that we do the right thing. I think you can count on Ohio State certainly. They've proven they know how to do that.

Q. Do you have any difference of an opinion of them after the last game?
COACH CARROLL: No. I don't think that has anything to do with anything. These guys have won a ton of games together. They know how to do it. They've played in all settings. They've won year in and year out. This particular team of guys, they have rarely not won games.

So they just won that game a little differently than anybody wanted them to and expected them to. They took the game in hand. Really I think from their sidelines, they felt even when they were behind, they didn't feel out of control of that game. It just was a matter of time. That's exactly what it looked like. Fourth quarter, they owned it, won the football game going away, and it was easy for them.

Q. What do you remember from your days at Ohio State, that one year?
COACH CARROLL: I remember a lot. It was an extraordinary experience. We had come from Iowa State with Coach Bruce. He got the job after Coach Woody Hayes took off. We went in there with really high hopes and expectations, and felt like we had kind of an insider's view because Bruce had been there, coached with Woody for so long, played there and all that. He really conveyed to us that he had a sense for what it took to win at Ohio State. He was on it.

We had a great year. We won every game against a lot of great players that played in the NFL for years. We had good matchups in the conference. It was a really historic year. We won big, a lot. Great offensive players, defensive players. He just orchestrated it beautifully. Save the last four minutes of the last game, you know, when Charlie White goes to town and kicks butt, they win the Rose Bowl. We were all but perfect. It was really an extraordinary year.

The history of that program is obvious. The great heritage that they have that lives through those players and those famous names that we grew up watching and stuff, those guys still love their program, just like USC, they hold very dear to their heart. There's a lot of similarities in it. The great historic matchups that you have, you know, the great stadiums and things. There's a lot of similarities. I love being part of it, again, because I saw it for the first time at Ohio State.

One of my favorite memories is I'm sitting up in I think it's St. John's Arena, the old basketball place. I was looking out the window. I saw Coach Hayes walking down the sidewalk across the parking lot. I'd never seen him before, you know. So I just dropped everything and took off, ran across the parking lot and met him about halfway down. He was walking home from teaching a class, I think. And I introduced myself. We walked for about 10 minutes. And he knew who I was. I was all thrilled. You know, he even knew that I was one of the new coaches. We talked football. That was my one chance I had to visit with him.

To me that was a really special moment, you know, with a guy that was a great impact to our football college game and to everything that stands for football, all that.

But there was a lot of memories that year and a lot of cool stuff that happened. A lot of great names and people we dealt with...that was really fun.

Q. Can you talk about the intangibles that Mark Sanchez brings to the team and the game on and off the field, how that might be similar or different from other quarterbacks you've had.
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think one of the things that I appreciate the most, Mark's a great all around athlete. He can do anything. He can throw, catch, hit a baseball, hit a golf ball, shoot the basketball. He can do everything. All of those qualities can enhance a guy's ability to play this ridiculously difficult position of quarterback.

Mark is just a natural. He's also natural as a leader. He's very bright. He's a great communicator. He can convey emotionally a message as well as verbally a message that people can pick up on. He affects other people around him.

Like great players do, they make other guys feel they can play better around him. He's got a great physical ability. Throw the football, accuracy wise, touch wise, tremendous arm strength, and an excellent release. He has everything that a quarterback needs.

And he's really comfortable with being the starting quarterback at USC. You know, he's grown up to be this and become this. He's taking it in stride very well. Even with the setback of being injured, you know, his attitude was courageous and pointed. He was never going to miss a game. He healed himself beautifully to get back, then had enough time to practice, prepare and perform well.

He's still growing as a quarterback in the system. He's got a lot of stuff to get through. He's got to put a number of games behind him before he can prove all of that that we feel about him, but he's on his way.

I think he's got stuff like Carson Palmer. He's got stuff like Matt Leinart. He's got accuracy like John David Booty. He's got the great history to watch all of those guys and grow up under them and watch our system evolve. And so, you know, he's got everything going for him. He's got a bunch of guys around him that will play for him.

Hopefully this will work out well for him. He'll understand, like Carson, like Matt and John David, they've got to give the ball to all these good players around them and try not to be the whole show, because that's not what we ask our quarterback to do. Mark I think understands that really well.

Q. Ohio State is obviously very excited about their linebackers. You have a couple great ones, too. What makes your guys so special?
COACH CARROLL: Well, our guys are really classic linebackers, you know, in their attitude, their approach. They're physical, they're tough. They run well. They love the game. They're really good all around athletes that can make plays in space and can make plays in tight areas. They bring it. They're the kinds of guys that their teammates respect and regard highly because of their toughness, you know. All of the things that kind of classic about great linebacker play.

So they're hopefully going to continue to be big parts of our defensive play. They're featured spots. We count on those guys to make all kinds of things happen. They're good enough athletes they play on special teams and contribute there as well.

Ohio State's linebackers are really good. A little different style. They're quick, agile, athletic, featured in their scheme. They pressure a lot. They put them in positions a lot to make big things happen, and they do it. (James) Laurinaitis can do anything. He's an extraordinary player...really a cool opportunity for people that love football to watch these guys on both sides of the ball. It's rare that you would get this many guys that will have big futures and upsides as you see in this game. But we have great respect for what they can do and how they play, as well.

Q. Have you ever had to game plan for a running back with a combination of power and speed that (Chris) Wells has?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, yeah. But it's been a while since you've seen a guy like that. He's got Jonathan Stewart type of stuff. He's got Marshawn Lynch type of stuff. He's got great speed. You know, those guys were great college players. He is, as well.

The thing about him, he's going to play. He's played hurt throughout his career. That's not going to keep him from playing in this game. He's tough. He's got the ability to really just control the game.

I know that they have other really good running backs as well. He's a little different. He's the biggest of their guys. So he'll call for a team playing him. You have to tackle really well, otherwise he'll run a regular play where a guy would make four or five yards, he'll bust it, be out and going. He's done it against everybody. Our battle and challenge is to not let that happen against us. We expect him to be a very big factor for them in this game.

Q. Does Rey's (Maualuga) hand magnify that challenge at all?
COACH CARROLL: Well, it's harder to grab onto something when you got it in a cast, yeah. So it's going to be a factor to some extent. You know, can't do much about that, though.

Q. Coach Tressel named a few of your players that he heavily recruited, guys like Sanchez, over the last few years. Are there any players on the Ohio State roster that you actively recruited?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah. We had Chris Wells in here. He saw us, had a good look at us. I think right after he came here, he said he was going to Ohio State (laughter). So he knew what he wanted.

But he was the biggest name guy that was a phenomenal high school player. He was about the same size in high school...did all the same kind of damage and more. It was vicious what he did to those poor high school kids when he was running the ball. But he's the most notable of them. Brian Robiskie was a guy we knew all about, couldn't really get going on. They've got some young kids coming up that aren't really figuring on right now. There's a bunch of guys. We've knocked heads with those guys, yeah.

Q. We seem to have been talking about this game for almost a year. In terms of a regular season game, what's the magnitude of this?
COACH CARROLL: I think from the outside in, it's no different as we see it. Our kids are excited about this game, for all the logical reasons. But, you know, we're trying to make every game we play the biggest game in the world to our players and the way we approach it and all that. This one happens to have just a little bit more to it than some other ones from the outside in.

We can't approach it differently if we're going to expect to play well. We have to approach this exactly like we approached the last game, national championship games, opening games for years. And that's our challenge, to find a way to do that. The whole point is for us to play really well, you know. It's not who you're playing; it's for us to play really well. If we can do that, then we'll have a chance. Maybe we can win that game because of that. We'll see.

Q. The level of intensity you guys bring to Tuesdays, is that something that you developed independently or something you saw other teams doing and you adapted?
COACH CARROLL: No, I've never seen anybody practice the way we practice in the manner that we do. However, as a matter of fact I talked to Coach Robinson today, on the little show we did, the standard was set conveyed to me by Marv Goux years ago, that the activity and the competitiveness and the intensity on this practice field was often greater than any game they could ever get in. So we wanted to capture that as an asset in preparation for us. So out of that, we're always going to be competitive and battle, but I think the standards we set for us to perform every day at practice was based on things that were established here in years past, and we tried to recapture that.

I wasn't here, so I can't tell you what it was like then. But if you talk to the guys that used to practice here and the stories that they have, I mean, they convey a message that it was harder on Tuesdays and Wednesdays than it was in the games for the most part. And we've tried to recapture that.

I think it's worked beautifully for us. You know, today's a huge day for our football team. I know we play a big game on Saturday, but there's a big game going on today. We'll find out who wins today, offense or defense.

Q. Your offensive line looked good against Virginia. What kind of additional pressure do you think Ohio State is going to bring with their front seven?
COACH CARROLL: They pressure everybody and they're successful at it against everybody. They gave up next to nothing last week and the week before that. They've had a bunch of turnovers already. They really force the action. They believe they can cut these athletes lose, the linebackers, their safeties, even their corners, on you and they go for it. So this is a really exciting defense to watch. It's a major challenge for us, to slow these guys down.

In our sense, I'm hoping that our guys will be able to do the same to them. But we're definitely challenged by it. The offensive line played very, very well last week. No sacks, 200 something yards rushing all that. It was a really good first outing for us. But this is even a more complex challenge than the first one.

Q. What about the two quarterbacks? Do you expect the young kid to play much?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, Terrelle Pryor is a great athlete. This guy is a really big time player. We tried recruiting him. There's another kid we tried to recruit. I know Coach Floyd and I gave it our best shot...couldn't get him out of the east. This guy, he's a great basketball prospect as well.

What they've done really well with this guy is they put him in, let him play. They haven't hesitated to do that. They've thrown the ball with him, ran the ball with him, which he can do both. He definitely has a style that's different than Todd Boeckman. They demonstrate that with their play calling and their style of plays that they call. So they present different situations and problems for you.

I expect to see him in. They played him in both their first two games in early...didn't play as much last week as he did the first game. But we anticipate seeing him. We have to prepare for both. He's a great running quarterback. As tall as Vince Young, and I don't know if he's as fast or not, but he sure looks it. We sure thought in recruiting that he could be that type of a player. They're very fortunate to get him.

Again, the fact that they're using him and playing him is really I think a strong statement about their belief in him.

Q. Do you draw any conclusions from the way that Ohio State was handled pretty decisively in the last two championship games?
COACH CARROLL: No, not really. They played great teams. They were big time matchups and they went the way they went. I don't think that that took away from them being championship teams and a championship program in any way. They came right back roaring and had great seasons right after it and all that. But in those matchups, you know, just didn't go their way.

But it wasn't because they tried to be conservative or they held back or anything. They went after it very aggressively in their attacks and their preparation. They went after their opponents in a way that they had planned to win those games and thought they could. You know, admirably so. You know, unfortunate for them they didn't get their wins.

I don't take anything away other than they played two great football teams and couldn't quite get over on them.

Q. (Question regarding a speed issue.)
COACH CARROLL: Not at Ohio State. I don't know about the rest of the league, but not Ohio State. These guys can fly. They're really fast. They're as athletic and as fast as anybody we've played in all of the years we've been together here. So I don't know about the rest of the conference, but they got some track teams on their football team now.

Q. What about the quarterback of the New England Patriots (former USC quarterback Matt Cassel)?
COACH CARROLL: Haven't talked to him. A bunch of messages going back and forth indirectly. Had a chance to talk on the radio back there this morning to try to get to him because he's kind of a rock star right now (laughter). But everybody's really pumped up for Matt. What an incredible story about a guy persevering, hanging through all of the times, all of the really bad matchups he's had for his career with all the Heisman guys, then maybe the best football player ever in the history of the NFL, Tom Brady, with all of his wins and championships, and that's what he played behind.

The other side of it, Matt has been brought up well. He's been in that program for a long time. This is not a guy that's going to go thrown to the wolves, that hasn't really had the opportunity to learn the system.

He's really athletic. He's tough. He has a great arm. He knows what's going on. He's got a beautiful team around him. It will be interesting to see how the chemistry works now. It's a great challenge. It's a very difficult challenge for a starting quarterback for the first time.

But he's had the preparation and so we'll wish him the best. Going against the Jets, too, which is awesome. It's Cassel versus Favre. Great matchup, beautiful (laughter).

Q. In light of what happened with the Washington-BYU game, kind of difficult to balance between jacked up and not being too jacked up against Ohio State?
COACH CARROLL: Well, give me a chance to talk on this topic. Let me say something about it. I think the spirit of the rule, in my opinion, is set out so that guys can't demonstrate the opportunity when they do something good that takes away from the game and draws attention to the individual or draws focus because of an orchestrated something or other. That's not what we want in football, and I'm a thousand percent behind that.

But this game is emotional and packed with extraordinary moments. I don't care if you're 18 years old or if you're playing in the NFL for 20 years, you know, when things happen, the elation and the excitement that occurs is going to generate some kind of response or we're not human. We need to let that happen. We need to understand that somehow. I'm not saying it's easy. There's a laundry list of things that you can't do. You know, but there's not a list of things that you can do. Jump up and down, whatever it is.

Particularly in a moment where a game is on the line, for a call like that to happen, and I'm not faulting anybody on this, but for a call like that to happen, to take away from the result of the game, is not what the rule was meant for. It's to help our coaches police our guys and the actions they take, all that.

When guys do flips, you get penalties. They deserve 'em. That's the wrong kind of stuff. But when a guy just, you know, explodes at the moment, you got to have some latitude there. You got to understand that this is a game. We don't want to take that away from the game.

Am I going to tell my guys this is the question you ask don't be excited when you score a touchdown? We're doing everything we can to flip the ball to that ref as soon as we can and get on with our business of having a blast. We play this game because we love it. We play this game because of the challenges and the opportunities for extraordinary things to occur. We don't want to dampen that. What are we doing it for? What's the point?

So hopefully this will be a wake up call and the guys will understand. I don't know how the officials have taken to this. We're not changing what we are doing. We're going to try and stay with the guidelines that we've had, trying to do the right thing. Even at that, with all of the examples that we see from stuff that happens on Sundays, these kids grow up thinking and dreaming about that being part of their life someday. It's hard for them to curtail things at times because they do it in their yards, they do it in their backyards, in their bedrooms at night when they're thinking about scoring touchdowns, they're dreaming about it.

But there is a right and a wrong here. Hopefully the officials can do the best they can and figure that out as well. We don't want to take something away from the game that's so a awesome about it. We're trying and we'll do the best we can to demonstrate the right way to do it. Keep flipping the ball to the ref is what we try to do when we score a touchdown. See what happens.

Q. How do your running backs handle the rotation?
COACH CARROLL: Philosophically what we do is we try to put our guys in positions to do what they do well. Some guys do things differently than others. Some guys have a knack for this and that. Particularly when they're young, we are trying to put guys in positions to do things they really already know how to do well so that they can be confident, they can execute well, all of that. As we go, we develop more for the guys.

Our guys are different. They're not all the exact same guy. We use our guys differently. We try to find niches for them within our scheme. We're trying to win, that's all. We're just trying to win. It has nothing to do with anything other than we're trying to win. There's no committee. We don't talk like that. We don't have a set plan. We go play football. Sometimes some guys play more than others. Depends what's going on.

The system as it is is just one to try to find a way to do what we can do to help us score touchdowns and win games. Then we worry about the rest of the stuff later on. Fortunately we've had tremendous success with more than one guy playing a position. There's benefits to one guy playing. There's benefits to more than that. You see a lot of NFL teams now playing with two backs, trying to feature more than one guy because it's so hard for one guy to make it through the season. Their careers are shortened. A runningback's lifelines are a lot shorter than other positions for obvious reasons. There's a lot of backing to why it works and how it works. But most of it is feel. We do it feeling our way through the game plan preparation and then feeling our way through the game. We go with what we think is the right thing to do. I don't know if that helps you, but that's what we're doing.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Sept. 9, 2008Football Press Conference

Ohio State football head coach Jim Tressel

Opening statement

'I've tried not to spend too much time looking back (at the Ohio game). It was not a stellar performance by any means. Obviously, you go back and reflect and study yourself but you probably haven't taken two or three days to do it. Who knows why when you are working with young people...there are moments where you don't coach as well as you can or play as well as you can, but that was one of the moments. We survived, I guess. Now it's time to get ready to go against a great Southern Cal team.'

On differences between quarterbacks Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor

'Todd is certainly a leader of the football team. He stepped in last year and won a quarterback battle, carried on during the season and did a real solid job. He was ranked in the top 10 nationally in efficiency. He did a very solid job and continues to improve, continues to be a good leader. He is a young man that has been here quite some time. He actually greyshirted for us in 2003 and redshirted in '04 and has been here, kind of in the background ever since. He is a solid person, a person that has grown and he's a coach's son...his father was a very successful high school coach here in Ohio. He is an excellent leader. He has already graduated and now about three terms into his post-graduate work. He's just a fine young man.'

'You have the youngster that was actually Todd's roommate during the preseason. Todd did a good job of helping him along and Terrelle has a real passion to learn the game and we have gotten him into the game some. I think that he is trying to pick it up and has every intention of becoming a great quarterback. We love his work ethic, love his ability and he needs experience.'

On status of running back Chris 'Beanie' Wells

'Chris Wells, Chris 'Beanie' Wells as we call him, ran yesterday. I think he will do a little more vigorous cutting, those kind of things today. He will be into the scuffle of all the bodies tomorrow. We feel good about the way he is coming along. He is a real competitive kid, he wants very badly to help this football team whether it was last week when he couldn't be in there or this week...whatever he could do, he is certainly anxious to step in. He is a leader in his own right. He is a physical guy, powerful guy. He has great hands. He is an excellent pass protector. He's just a quality football player. Obviously, we too want him in that lineup.'

On defense

'(Linebacker) James (Laurinaitis) is a great leader. He was voted as a captain as a junior last year. He was a landslide vote again this year. He is very instinctive, prepares very hard. He is an outstanding student as well as being an excellent football player. He's one of those all-around guys that was kind of thrust into the action as a true freshman when we had a starting linebacker (Bobby Carpenter) break his leg on the first play of the Michigan game and he had to play the rest of that game and the Fiesta Bowl...he hasn't looked back. He does a good job with the other people in the room, on the campus and in the community. He's just a good football player.'

On growing up in Ohio and understand the impact of the USC-Ohio State football series

'Growing up in Ohio in the late 1960s, I was in high school and early 70s in college. Those were the years that USC and Ohio State were playing in the Rose Bowl frequently. I was a Rex Kern fan and an O.J. Simpson fan...all the great players that played in those games. Early on into the 70s, it was the Archie Griffin era for Ohio State and Archie got to play there four times in the Rose Bowl...some of them against the Trojans. I always admired Coach (John) McKay and Coach (John) Robinson. I was an I formation coach from day one in my coaching career from the beginning in 1975. At the time, whatever USC was doing, that's what you did. Ohio State was doing and Michigan was doing it so in my background, USC was the pinnacle.'

On USC team

'The thing I love about them is that everyone wants to talk about their outstanding players and they do. Gosh, all of those guys were on our wish list when we were back in the recruiting days. Some of those guys we had a chance to really get to know like Jeff Byers, who was a quality kid and great player. Kristofer O'Dowd, who was out here at our summer youth camp...Blake Ayles we got to know and Ronald Johnson. Mark Sanchez spent time out here and on and on. They have great talent, but what I love about them is the discipline. They play the game the way it's supposed to be played. They play it fast and they play it tough, they play it clean and they have fun. One of the things we talk about to our guys about all the time at the outset of the year and throughout the year is that you guys work too hard at this thing not to have fun. It's amazing, this is my 34th year of coaching of which 32 have been in Ohio, and the difference between the time spent by youngsters preparing and training and film watching and all's just amazing to see how it has transpired. All of that emphasis that has been placed on the game, they got to learn how to have fun and that's what the Trojans do. They go out there and have fun and compete. They represent the game the way it's supposed to be played, hard and tough. I just enjoy watching them on film. I enjoyed it more I think when I was just trying to study from them than when I'm trying to play them. Pete (Carroll) does a great job. He does a great job for his team, he does a great job for his community and all the rest. He has a great staff. I think all those things are why there is so much notice about this game. All that USC and all that Ohio State represents...I think it's a neat thing for college football.'

On comments made by OSU wide receiver Ray Small earlier in the week

'Well, it's disappointing when anyone talks and words get twisted. The only thing I can say is that Ray does not have a malicious bone in his body. He has no ill intentions. Those of us that speak with the press sometimes can err and there is nothing you can do about your error, but you have to make sure you know who you are. Obviously, it wasn't a good thing, but he's a good kid. The thing I guess that you hope is that in anything that is said by anyone is that nothing distracts from the fact that these are two great schools with great programs...doing it the way that you are supposed to do it that are going to capture the entire country's attention on Saturday night. That's a good thing and sometimes missteps aren't a good thing, but I guess that's why we are in teaching.'

On having to face six different running backs for USC

'When people talk about six different running backs, sometimes they leave out that fullback (Stanley Havili) who does all the catching and all those things. Those are great guys. Joe McKnight is a special guy whether he is in the backfield, in the flank, in motion, catching punts. (C.J.) Gable and (Stefon) Johnson...every time you turn on the special teams, you see (Allen) Bradford...on and on and on...they are just a great group of guys. What I love about them is the fact you never hear them complaining that I need the ball more. You never hear them saying I should be doing this or he shouldn't be doing that and that's a great lesson of its own for anyone that's paying attention to how you go about things because there are a lot of talented guys that might be getting the ball more elsewhere, but what's important to them is the team. That's impressive.'

On USC linebacker Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing

'Those guys are everywhere and it seems like you have been watching them for quite some time. When you flipped on the TV two years ago, they were both in there flying around. They are good leaders, obviously. They have a real knowledge of what people are trying to do on offense. You can see that they are so savvy and experienced and obviously, physical. Linebackers that size don't come around every day and yet they can run like crazy and the coaching staff puts them into situations that feature their talents and challenge them to chase little guys down the field and cover them. They do a great job in everything they do. Don't discount 43 (Kaluka Maiava) either, he gets after it.'

On why he decided to play the USC series

'Quite some time ago about seven or eight years when we were talking about what was coming down college football, where things were going and there were whispers about a 12th game and how that was going to be important to the financial makeup of athletic departments, we sat down and created a philosophy that we always wanted to have a home-and-home with a very notable opponent to give our guys a different experience. I have never been in the L.A. Coliseum, I'm sure most of our guys haven't either. We do it just to give them some experiences and give them another reason to think about how this might be a good experience for them. So we signed up with Texas and USC and Miami and Tennessee and Oklahoma and I think we are stretched out to 2017 with those kind of series that I think excite our alumni. We have a huge alumni base everywhere in the country and with that in mind, we set our schedule.'

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