Pete Carroll-Mike Stoops Talk About Saturday's Game At Arizona

Oct. 21, 2008

COACH Pete Carroll: This is really an exciting week to prepare. Coming off some good weeks in succession for us, feeling pretty good about ourselves right now in preparation for a huge game.

Yesterday at practice, we might have had seven or eight guys return to the practice field that have been sick or hurt, which you can just feel the energy that that brings and the boost to the depth chart and the competition and all.

Arizona, coming off an enormous game, I don't know this, but I would think it's one of the biggest games since Mike Stoops has been there, to put themselves and position themselves in a great spot in the Pac 10 beating Cal last week coming from behind. They were down 24 14 or something at half time and came roaring back and commanded a great win and the place went crazy. They had fantastic play from both sides of the ball. Keola Antolin hit the big time and just exploded for them at the running back spot. Really, they have got to be flying.

For us, we are excited about it. This is a championship matchup for sure, and we are going to try to take the momentum that we're building here out of the first half of the season and take it to Tucson and see if we can get ourselves a win.

A couple question marks, but if guys that will play, some question marks in terms of competition of who is going to get the play time, as well and that will be determined this week with a couple of positions. Have to wait and see how Joe is. He practiced yesterday and we'll see how he takes to the work this week, and other than that we are in fret pretty good shape and be ready to go.

Q. Ever heard of a team scoring 138 unanswered points?
COACH Pete Carroll: No, I don't know. I'm sure it's happened. But it's been a good run for the defense now, and we've had some great challenges in there and really big time field position challenges which shows the mettle of the team and their attitude and progress coming through and all that. And last week we were pretty much in command throughout the game and they didn't really get a chance to threaten. It's fun for the kids and fun for the coaches, and it's a source of pride when you can put a little string like that together, and it's unusual that it happens. Have some fun with it, but it's on to this week.

This offense we are playing with Arizona is very balanced and they have a tremendous passing game with a terrific quarterback in Willie Tuitama, and the tight end is fantastic and Michael Thomas is a great player. This is going to check us out and it's going to be very hard to hold them down at all. They have scored a ton of points already on most everybody they have played.

Q. Status of Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford?
COACH Pete Carroll: Allen Bradford is finished for the season now. We are going to try to get him well and healed up and surgery to be determined, when is the right time to do it. I think we are going to make sure that we take advantage of plenty of time to see how he moves after a long rehab, maybe before we do any kind of surgery and see what happens. He's got a serious issue so we have to take care of it.

Joe's situation is really day to day. We're going to see how he does in response to the workload during the practices. He ran yesterday and did all right. But you know he was still limited in what we gave him chances to do, and see what happens and it will be a day to day thing and probably won't know until the end of the week.

Q. You said a couple of positions were up in the air?
COACH Pete Carroll: Yeah, with Butch Lewis and Zach Heberer coming back, both guys that started earlier in the year, both guys that have stepped in have done very, very well. So those situations which were competitive going in have become even more so, and Nick Howell at tackle and Alex Parsons at guard have done very, very well.

So those situations which were competitive going in have become even more so, and so we'll figure it out during the week what's the right thing to do. But we are really happy about the depth and the fact that those guys can play and contribute really is a big boost to us.

Parsons has played left guard, right guard and center for us, so his versatility has really helped us as well.

Q. Is Howell more physical?
COACH Pete Carroll: Nick has always been one of the strongest guys on our offensive line and drills and stuff, he's always shown that. He does bring a physical presence that is exciting to see. The thing that Nick did really well is he played with a minimal amount of mistakes and errors and mental stuff that could plague a guy starting for the first time. So he just was knocking people around and it showed very well.

Q. What is it about Arizona quarterback Willie Tuitama?
COACH Pete Carroll: Willie has been a big, strong thrower since he was a big kid early in his high school days. We saw him at camps and on film early on and he always had the big arm. Really good all around athlete.

He's got the kind of stature and just he is a classic pocket type of quarterback. He can throw on the move but he doesn't do much of that, and basically they are a line of scrimmage team throwing the football. He has a big arm for the down the field stuff, and has a nice touch on the game and well ahead of where he was before. He's experienced now and been through a ton of games and been through all kind of situations.

If you remember, he burst on the scene the first time he played. He had a big, big game and he's grown tremendously since that time. Now you look at his numbers: His picks are way down, his touchdowns are way up and his completion percentage is excellent. He's just really efficient in their system.

Q. What are they doing in their scheme
COACH Pete Carroll: They have had a really disciplined scheme for years. The same thing they have been doing. They are basically a zone team and they mix their pressures nicely. A lot of zone pressure, not too much man to man pressure, but they just have a real good sense of playing zones and they fill up the field and make it look like the field is too small.

There's not a lot of spaces and they break up the ball well and they position and anticipate beautifully. They are going to keep you in front of them. They are not going to give you any big plays which is a good idea in this conference. They are real disciplined at it.

So they show real consistency and when their playmakers start to grow up in their system like they have had in the past, they are able to make a lot of things happen and they are getting the turnovers and all of that.

Q. Can you go through Broderick Green's game?
COACH Pete Carroll: Yeah, he's grown as a blocker. He's got a great body to be a good blocker but he's really improved there. He has very good hands. He catches everything down, running routes with him, so he's an adequate receiver out of the backfield. We would never use him as a split out guy.

But he's a classic catcher. He runs behind his pads and his weight and his speed at 240 almost pounds, he pounds you. He also has enough quickness and he's got good feet to make you miss in the open field. He broke for a couple extra runs that were he might have had eight and ten yard runs and made them into 20 and 30 yard runs. He's a very skilled kid. He's just a freshman, so we are just getting started with him.

He didn't accomplish much of anything last year because he was banged up. He came in with a broken foot and never could get over that, so he red shirted.

When we went to camp this year, we took a lesson out of the Stafon Johnson process and started him over as a freshman again and gave him a ton of work and as we did Mark Tyler, and let them really show where they fit in. He started fast and then kind of tailed off a little bit through camp and then has come back around in the last month to really run hard and tough and has made a big impression on his staff and teammates that he brings something special. He's a good player.

Q. Is Broderick similar to LenDale White?
COACH Pete Carroll: Yeah, he's similar. He is similar. Same kind of size and speed and LenDale had a real knack for breaking tackles and they are very similar, though. He's as big as LenDale when he left. LenDale went 80 this week, did you see that? It was awesome. It took a long time. That was great. Great to see it.

Did you guys know that Reggie and LenDale are leading I don't know about what happened last night, but they are leading the NFL in scoring. I heard that, pretty cool. Eight touchdowns or something like that apiece. Where are they when we need them, Jose?

Q. Did you have a plan for how the Pac-10 Conference race was going to shake out
COACH Pete Carroll: I didn't have a plan for how it was going to shake out. I think there have been should big surprises. Obviously the Mountain West losses was a big weekend and it set us back a little bit. I think if you would have known quarterbacks were all going to get hurt, I think you could predict it was going to be tough on the offenses, you know, a lot of teams are playing with their second and third guy, and it's been hard on them.

So I think that's the big issue this year in the conference is the quarterback's inability to stay healthy.

Q. Were you able to stay for the (Craig Fertig memorial) yesterday?
COACH Pete Carroll: No, I had to go back over to meetings and practice. I got to be there at the start of it, and I heard Mike Garrett talking and he just was it was like perfect. He knew everything that you needed to know to convey the kickoff message about Craig and a wonderful guy he was and the spirit and the humor that was always present whenever Craig was, and there was a lot of fun stories that guys were telling us. I heard some of the feedback afterwards, it was a great ceremony, and I think it was uplifting for all of those who were feeling saddened by his loss and I remembered Craig in a beautiful way. It was very, very well done.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...

Arizona football head coach Mike Stoops10.21.08

On last week's win
'Well, I think we're playing much more consistently, you don't see great fluctuation in one week to the next, so that's probably the biggest thing I think you see. We've showed some maturity and toughness a couple of times to come back in that game and really establish ourselves which was good to see against a good football team. So, we continue to mature, this team has done virtually everything we have asked them to do, so I'm very proud of the way we're playing and we're doing a lot of good things right now, so that's really the reason I think we're just much more consistent in our approach.'

On team being in the Pac-10 race
'We knew that this would be our best group of players, I think it's one of our best teams since we've been here, just because we have balance across this football team when you look at us, offense, defense, special teams - we have a few Pac-10 type caliber players, but I think the overall bulk of our team is just hard working guys that play awfully well together and that's really been the reason for any success we've had this year, it's because of that. I think we have talent. I think we have balance in our football team, because when you look at us, I don't know if we are overpowering in any particular area, but I feel like we're a good football team in virtually every aspect.'

On quarterback Willie Tuitama
'Willie is playing well within himself right now which is the thing I am very pleased about. He's taking what the defense gives him, he has good command of our offense, he's playing with a lot of poise and confidence, that always hasn't been the case. You can obviously see the evolution of a guy that's been through the wars and really has played well this year for us. He's very accurate and has a great philosophy. He can make a lot of good throws. The thing I'm probably the most proud of is the way he's been managing the games. Really, it's about winning and losing, and he's not just that type of guy, so I'm pleased with the way he's progressed throughout his career.'

On team's offense
'Mike Thomas has just been one of the main players in the Pac-10 for the past three years. He's got great speed and explosiveness. Anytime he touches the ball he can go, so he gives us a big play threat wherever he's at, and he's been very consistent. He shows up virtually every time we step on the field. Rob Gronkowski's given us a lot of versatility on our offense to run the football, because he blocks so well and then stretches the field vertically so well being 6-6, 260 and can run. So, that's opened up some running spaces for our running backs. Nic Grigsby has had a good start. He's had a problem with the football which is obviously concerning, and it was good to see us establish another back in Keola Antolin last weekend had a tremendous game. I think we're gaining playmakers with depth too, which hasn't always been the case here.'

On team's defense
'I don't know, we have eight new starters on this defense from a year ago. I think it's just a really cohesive group. Devin Ross has been a spectacular player for us. He's a corner that can really jump some things and play aggressive. Nate Ness and Cam Nelson, are two of them, we only had three starters back and two of them came from the safety position, and those two guys have really done solid for us. Devin has come in and really played well in that corner picking up the slack for (former cornerback) Antoine (Cason), and being the playmaker in the secondary at the corner you're going to need a guy that can be a shut down caliber kind of player, and that's what Devin's been playing like this year.'

On thoughts about the USC team
'They're very, very good. Everywhere you look they have quality players and great depth. They're a very complete football team with no real weakness, so you have to match that with some toughness and some creativity in your offense and your defense and understand that you're going to have to play good football for 60 minutes. You're going to have to execute, because they will make you execute. That's the great thing about it, we certainly understand that. We are working hard on our execution on both sides of the ball. They're a very explosive football team, and they seem to like to throw the football now more than ever with Mark Sanchez. He's been very effective throwing for them, so that adds, you can see he has a very strong arm and they can do a lot of things with him. They have a lot of balance in their offense too, they've always been a good running team but now they are throwing the ball more effectively this year which is the big difference. I see a difference in their receivers' ability to get open and run, which I think is much different.'

On if Saturday's game is the game of the year in the Pac-10
'Oh, I don't know, there's probably going to be a lot of big games as we move through the season. At this point, anytime you're playing for first place and it's starting to get late in the year, I think it can create momentum. More teams will start weeding themselves out, so here in the next couple weeks we're going to find out who the contenders will be.'

On USC's streak of 138 unanswered points
'I don't know. What's it about? It's about playing some good football, that's what it's about. They obviously execute very well, and like I said they've got tremendous players. I think says a lot about their coaching too, I think that gets overlooked. I know everyone knows what Pete Carroll has done, but obviously he's got some great assistants on both sides of the ball that do a tremendous job. They make you earn every yard on the football field, and they make you execute. If you come in and you don't have people that can match up against them you've got no chance. We're going to have to be creative in some of our matchups, but that's what coaching is about. We have to try to find some ways to move the football, and we feel like we have weapons on offense that will give us that opportunity as we go out there and execute on Saturday.'

On home field advantage and impact for this weekend's game
'Well, I think it'll have a huge impact on the game. Crowd noise can help your defense get quicker off the football, and make it harder to communicate for the other team. It gives you momentum and gives you some confidence. We're 6-0 in our last six games, and I think we're averaging close to fifty points over the last - we beat Oregon, we beat UCLA, two bowl teams from a year ago. I think it tells you we're improving as a football team as you look at us evolve through the end of last year to where we're at right now.'

On USC center Kristofer O'Dowd being from Tucson
'He's a great player, we love Chris. His family has been in Tucson a long time. In fact, I'm supposed to give his mother some tickets, so maybe he'll take it easy on us. They have a great family, and Chris comes back and we see him. I'm sure he'll play well as he does every game.'

On how this game will rank among his top games as a head coach
'Well, anytime you play USC it's a big game. This has a lot of significant meaning for us in the Pac-10. We have not be relevant in the Pac-10 in the past eight to ten years, so that part makes it really good for the people and I'm happy for our players and our coaches that we actually get to play in a big game. I think our kids will handle it well, I don't think anyone really feels any different. I think we understand that we have a big job to do, and I think our kids will be excited about it. Besides that, I don't think anyone puts more pressure on it. I don't think anyone expects us probably to win, so I think that takes some of the pressure off you.'

On Willie Tuitama's ability to practice against a tough defensive line
'He's played against them for the last two years, so he understands what they do and he understands their speed, so that experience I think helps him. You know, that can be very disruptive to your timing, and that's what they do to you, they make you, even when you feel like you have time, they force you to throw the ball before you're ready even when you're protected. So it can be very disruptive, just the constant pressure you're under. Our line is going to have to do a good job at giving him some time, because that's probably going to be one of the big keys for us, is protecting Willie and giving him time to get a couple of reads. If we can do that, we feel like we throw the ball pretty well this year.'

On how good the USC defense is
'They're big, fast and physical - that's the first thing you realize. They make you earn it on the field. When you're good at all the positions, that's what makes it hard. They're very sound and very fundamental too. They're not just big, strong, fast athletes, it's their technique and the way they're coached, I think that's what tells you what they are.'

On the motivation of playing in the Rose Bowl
'Well, we haven't talked about it. We haven't even been to a bowl game, so we haven't really talked about it. We don't even bring it out. Our kids understand what comes with being on top, so I don't really spend any time with it. I haven't said one word about it. We want to stay at the top of the Pac-10. If you're able to win against USC, it gives you a game breather on top of them if you beat them head to head, you know what I'm saying, if you tie with them. It's significant in a lot of way. That's really all we're concentrating on, is winning this game and staying on top of the Pac-10.'

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