Rose Bowl Media Day Quotes

Dec. 30, 2008

Head Coach Pete Carroll

Opening Statement...


'As we get closer to the game. The excitement and the intensity of it grows. Here we are at pressconference day for our players and the different aspects of the process come together. We know that weare really close to game time. This is exciting for us. [We are] thrilled to be here at the Rose Bowl, thrilledto be playing such an extraordinary match-up with Penn State. We see nothing but an incredibly balanced,well-rounded and gifted football team. It's going to take a tremendous effort from our guys, in all phases ofthe game, to play really well across the board. I don't know how you can look at it any other way than agreat match-up. Both defenses, offenses, special teams, returners, the whole thing. It is going to be abattle and hopefully we can come out on top here on New Year's Day. I'm very much looking forward tothis.'

On playing against Penn State head coach Joe Paterno...


'I think I'm very fortunate to have this opportunity to play against Coach Paterno. I have too much respectfor him and his program and all that he has stood for over the years. I don't know if it all comes together inone football game. I don't know if it's matching wits. I don't know if I have enough wits on my end to match.We're just going to play the game and hope it ends up the way we want it to. Hopefully not the way hewants it to.'

On gauging Penn State based on it's success over the Big Ten Conference...


'We'll find out [how good Penn State is] on game day. I can see what they have done during the seasonand the success that they've had and the tremendous balance they've created for this team. You don'tknow until you get on the field and you start blocking the tackle and you see how you match up. I don't thinkthe history of match-ups has much to say about what's going on. We see nothing but a well-equipped, wellschooledfootball team.'

'I know we've had success against the conference but we've had success against the SEC teams as well. Idon't know if it has to do with the conference or the area of the country they come from.'On learning he was recruiting the same players as Coach Paterno...

'When I knew we were recruiting the same guy and I know [Coach Paterno] had visited. I was curious. Iasked, `what was he like?' `Did he tell old stories?' I was curious just like anyone else. That's because youhold him in such high regard. I wanted to know about some of the background stuff and some of the behindthe scenes stuff that you don't normally get to hear about. I was just as curious as anyone else. They lovedhim and he was engaging.'

On Rey Maualuaga's background...


[Rey Maualuga] had humble surroundings, which is not uncommon. They are a very close-knit family unitand it rocked them when their dad became sick and eventually passed away. It rocked the family. Rey wasthe oldest and seemed to have to take responsibility for them and to do that from a distance was hard forhim.'

'He's highly emotional. He's tightly wound and a highly gifted competitor. He loves to battle. He loves towork hard. I don't know if that was part of the molding process. I know that the impact that his mom anddad had on him early on was well underway when he dad got sick. He had to learn, like we all have to learn,we when have the passing of a family member. You learn how to deal with it and put it some place and notlet it affect you and all of your life and let it distract you. Rey made it through that. It was hard on him and itwas challenging. Now he is a bigger man and a wiser man for it. We've seen tremendous progress the lastcouple years. He is engaging the opportunity to become a leader. He's embraced it with hard work anddedication and school work.'

On imaging USC matched up against the national championship competitors...


'I would never back away from any opportunity to play [Florida or Oklahoma]. I think with our defense thatwe have I think we can beat anybody. I don't have any question in my mind that could happen. I think PennState is just as worth as all of those teams. There are a half dozen teams that have had great seasons.What a remarkable experience it would be to go against them and battle it out to see who wins in the end ofit. Unfortunately we don't get to do that. I think anytime you get into championship situations having a reallygood defense is something you like to go into battle with. We know we can play the run game well. We canmake problems for our opponents regardless of their style of offense. Riding on the coat tails of those guys,we'd love to play anybody and we think we'd have a chance.'

On a play-off system...


'I've advocated the play-off system, following coach [Paterno]. I don't think any competitor gets to this levelwould ever want to see it any other way. Its not saying the bowl system isn't great and I love the traditionalmatch-ups, but I still want the issue settled on the playing field and I wish we could do that. I champion thecause whenever we can talk about it. I know coach [Paterno] has always felt that way too. I can't imaginepeople liking to get voted into the championship game. I think you'd like to win and earn your way throughit.'

On Penn State defensive end Aaron Maybin...


'He's a fantastic competitor, has a great motor. I think his competitiveness stands out the most. He is sucha determined football player. He just doesn't give you a break. He is really tough in play action passingsituations because he comes off the ball so fast that he can get up field and cause you problems. He is agreat football player.'

On Coach Paterno's age...


'He's endured a lot physically, coming off the hip surgery and all that. As much as I like running around andbeing active at practice, I don't know what it would be like. I can't picture what it would be like to not be ableto do all that stuff. Maybe I can adapt but I'm pretty entrenched in the way I like to do it. It's hard to imagine.Not many of our grandfathers looked like they could have done that. He's remarkable and an extraordinaryindividual. I don't know he does it or gets it done. He's got a great spirit about him. He loves people andloves to have fun and a good time.'

On finishing the season...


'To be successful over a season you have finish well. Fortunately for us we've had great fortune at the endof our season. It has become something that has separated us a little bit. Any athlete or coach would loveto say that your team finishes well. You bring your best at the end when it is most meaningful. We takegreat pride in that and that has become a character of the program.'

On Penn State's offense...


'This is a very well balanced offense. They do everything college offenses off now. Classic run style. Twoback offense. They have the whole shotgun array now as well as getting the quarterback out of thebackfield and getting Derrick [Williams] back there and running all the shotgun plays you can run. They giveus all of the problems that any team can give you. They're not a spread team, flying around and throwingthe ball over the perimeter. They do all the stuff offenses are doing in college football. We have to getready for every bit of it. With the fact that they have Derrick as their back up quarterback, they've beenpracticing it more than ever.'

On the difference between USC and Big Ten teams playing in the Rose Bowl Game...


'I think it is different [playing in the Rose Bowl from California]. We've had the great opportunity to comeback a number of times and SC has been here a lot over the years. The exciting thing about it, for me, iswhen you aspire to make that your goal, you know when you get there, the opportunity is to play a greatbowl match-up at a home setting. It's a great advantage to us. It's a classy bowl. Everything around is somuch fun. Its still exciting for us in every way. I think its different for the Big Ten because they're leavingpart of the country to come to Hollywood. So I think it's a big deal. I remember back then how excitedpeople were to see LA for the first time. From a competitive stand point, this is an extraordinary opportunityfor us. We always seize it and make the most of it for us. Our whole goal was go to the Rose Bowl.'

On which team has the advantage...


'I think the edge will come to whoever takes care of the football. It's always the case, but I think in thisgame where we are so evenly matched, if we take care of the football better than them, we'll have the bestopportunity to win.'

On USC's defense...


'This is the best defense statistically we've had. I say that in respect to the guys who've played here before.This year statistically is by far the best. If you want to look it like that. We had teams that took the ball awayfrom our opponents at alarming rates. I think this is a great group and I love coaching them and all that.'

On the outcome of the game...


'I can't think of it any other way than low scoring. They're very good on defense. They're well-schooled andvery strong at the line of scrimmage. Their linebackers are tough and their edge rushers are strong. Theydon't give you anything. This is really going to be a good chess match to see if we can find some ways tomove the football.'

Quarterback Mark Sanchez

On being able to keep focused on the Rose Bowl Game with so many distractions surrounding the team...

'It's not difficult at all. We have all these activities going on. We go to Disneyland. We go to Lawry's [Beef Bowl] and hangout with some of these seniors for the last time. When we are practicing, that [practice] is all I am thinking about. I'm morefocused on this game than any game because we have so much time to prepare. It means a lot to me and obviously I wantto win. We think if we play well enough, we will be just fine and it is going to be a great match-up.'

On preparing for Penn State...

'All week it starts with film preparation. You start watching old games. You get little clips of the games. You watch theirdefense and try and pick up different keys. You can't just watch it all once. You have to watch it multiple times. We watchour practices that are filmed for us. I try to see my footwork and if it was accurate on this throw or is that the kind of play fakeI want. We do these things throughout the week and then by Thursday we are pretty much ready to go.'

On Penn State's defense...

'They are a stingy group. They're tough, physical guys. They fly around to the ball. [Aaron] Maybin has been wreaking havocall year harassing quarterbacks. Their linebackers play downhill. They flow to the ball and they hit the running backs hard.They don't shy away from hits. Their secondary is all seniors. They are a veteran group. They are experienced and theyhave played together. They have seen a lot of football together, so they know their schemes well. They play well togetherand feed off each other's energy. It's an emotional group and I'm excited to play against them. They are going to be a great,formidable opponent.'

On what the team took away from the loss to Oregon State earlier in the season...

'We just can't come out flat like that. I think everybody on the team admitted it. I think the best part about that game was thatour team really grew up. We were mature about it. Nobody was pointing fingers. Everybody was pointing fingers atthemselves and taking responsibility. I knew this team would bounce back. I knew that teams in the past had lost and hadone loss early in the season. I knew it wouldn't affect how we finished the season. I think wefinished strong and putourselves in a great position to play on January 1 in the Rose Bowl Game and that is what we are playing for. This is a bigtime bowl game against a tough team so it is going to be fun.'

Linebacker Rey Maualuga

On being a physical defense...

'It [being physical] helps a lot. Coach Carroll's philosophy is practice is everything. Just go out there and let loose. We getour offense prepared [to face other physical defenses]. It makes the games a lot easier. This defense is made up of [several]seniors. Everyone is a veteran and knows what to expect from each other. Everyone knows what to do, so we are notworried about what the other person is going to do because you know he is going to do his job.'

On wanting to start the Rose Bowl Game on defense...

'We can get the defense out there and hopefully get a three-and-out to give our offense some momentum. We want to getthem fired up to go out there and move the ball down the field.'

On playing for head coach Pete Carroll...

'He knows what he expects from his players. We know what we want from a coach and that is what he gives us. Somecoaches don't have open practices. Some coaches don't do the things that he does as far as trying to play with you or try torun down [field] on kick-offs. At times when I am practicing my linebacker position, he will be in front of me and say `I willread this play faster than you will'. When it is all said and done, fun aside, it's time to get down and work.'

On Penn State's offense...

'As far as athleticism and the way they pick up their offense and run the ball and throw the ball, this is probably one of thebest spread offenses I've seen and probably the best offense I've seen this year. We just need to continue to dominate andplay like we've been playing [to shut them down]. We just have to make them a one-dimensional team. Hopefully stop therun and force them to pass the ball all day. I think if we do that it will be a close game for us.'

Linebacker Brian Cushing

On being part of one of the best Trojan defenses while attending USC...

'Since I've been here I would say it is one of the best. I can't say anything about previously, but since I've been here this hasbeen the fastest, most aggressive defense. I think they have a little bit more attitude than any other defense I've played with.It's a confidence level when they go out there. They know what they are doing and are really getting the job done.'

On Penn State's defense...

'They are a very stingy team on defense. They play smartly. They have very few penalties. They are a very disciplined team.They are the all-around package.'

Safety Kevin Ellison

On this year's defense and its seniors...

'Hopefully we finish out strong as possible. You guys [media] decide how you rate us with the great defenses [in collegefootball]. Hopefully we are at the top.'

'I think the defense is ready [for the Rose Bowl Game]. The coaches are getting everyone ready. The players want to be agreat defense, so I think they are ready.'

On not having to travel to play in the Rose Bowl Game...

'It's nice. We have been here the last four years. We enjoy the week [before the game] and it is kind of like a home game forus.'

Defensive End/Linebacker Clay Matthews

On his family's history keeping him motivated to succeed...

'Obviously when you have a dad, an uncle and also a grandfather who has played in the NFL, you think you are going to bethe same way. Unfortunately that wasn't the case for me as far as college was concerned. I think every athlete believes theycan make it to the next level. Obviously, I had a lot of skeptics at the beginning, but I always thought I could make it withthese guys and make it to the next level.'

Offensive Guard Jeff Byers

On being motivated to play in the Rose Bowl Game for the fourth consecutive year...

'It is still fun. If you want to have fun, you will have fun regardless of where you are. We have never played Penn State in theRose Bowl Game. I don't think we are going to be asleep at the wheel playing against Penn State. They are a very goodfootball team, very well rounded. People forget that these guys are one win away from playing for the nationalchampionship.'

On playing against Penn State's defense...

'We have to go out there and we can't make mistakes [against them]. If you want to beat a good defense you have to bevery disciplined. You have to execute. You can't jump off side. You have to have everyone on the same page blocking.That's how you beat a good defense and move the ball. If you execute right, you should be alright.'

On Penn State's team as a whole...

'This is not your typical Big Ten team. They are quick. They are mobile. They are fast on offense. On defense, they run justa couple defenses, but they are very good at it. They play very disciplined. Their linebackers are solid. Their line is extremelygood. Their secondary plays really well in their schemes. We have a lot of work to do to execute against these guys.'

Head Coach Joe Paterno

Opening Statement...'It's good to be here. It has been a great week. I think we're ready to play. We'll find out in a couple days.It's a great challenge to play a team as well coached as Southern California is and as talented they are. It'sfun to watch them because they play with such enthusiasm. They are so aware of where they are. We'relooking forward to it. Up to a point, we'll find out.'

On the break between the Rose Bowl Game and the end of the Big Ten Conference season...'I don't particularly like the arrangement where the Big Ten doesn't play any games. We were throughbefore Thanksgiving. Everybody is playing. It's as if the Big Ten goes into hibernation and these otherteams are competing and competing against good teams. I think we're at a little bit of a disadvantage but Idon't think that will really have an effect where it will have an impact on the outcome of the game. I thinkSouthern California, the more you watch them, the more you are impressed with them. I think SouthernCalifornia is one of the four-five best teams in the country, without a doubt. They may be the best team inthe country. Certainly the best coached or better coached than anybody. I think the six weeks off bothersme a little bit. I think Southern California, playing a home game, hasn't had quite the logistics problems wehave had, as far as getting back and forth to practice. We spend almost two hours a day sitting in a busgoing back and forth to practice, which has bothered me more than anything. I'd like to give these kids achance to have fun. We're ready to play. If we get licked, it's because Southern Cal is a better team.'

On the variability of one play in a football game...'Football games are a funny thing. There will be 140 to 150 plays per game, any one of which, if someonegets a little careless with the football or has a foolish penalty in the clutch, if it's a close ball game, will havea bearing on it. I watched a little bit of the Missouri vs. Northwestern game last night and Northwestern waspretty much in control of things. They kicked the ball off before the half and [Jeremy Maclin] run the ballback 80 yards. After half time it was a different ball game. So I think that any one play have something todo with the eventual outcome [of the game]. What that play is going to be? You'd have to be Nostradamusto know.'

On critics of the Big Ten's bowl performances...'Some years you have teams who maybe play a little better in bowl games. We've won threestraight bowl games as a Big Ten member. We were in a BCS bowl game [Orange Bowl] threeyears ago and we won that one. Whether you have to carry the whole conference on your back, Ihaven't thought of it that way. I think its Penn State playing against Southern California. It's a realchallenge for us regardless of whether we are a Big Ten school or not a Big Ten school. I hope wecan play well and our kids can walk away from the game saying we gave it our best shot.'

On the ability of USC to go on a scoring run...'You watch so much football on television these days, one [team] blends into another.Quarterback gets hot and all of a sudden they're on a streak. I think the observation of SouthernCalifornia is absolutely right. If they get you on the ropes and they get a couple things going.Hang on. What Pete [Carroll] does so well, you never know if they are going to be in a single back[formation] or double back, [because] they do it with the same personnel. Once they get you a littleof place they know exactly what to do with it. You don't know if a tight end is a tight end or if he isreally a slot back. If they get you on a run, they smell blood. Another team like it, off the top of myhead, we probably played a couple. I'd be making it up if I told you now I really knew.'

On signing a three-year contract extension...'I think the university was very gracious. They wanted to put something in writing. We prolong thething until it became a recruiting [hindrance]. Kids wanted to know. We needed a contract. PennState is a little different. This thing called loyalty permeates almost everything I've done at theUniversity. Loyalty to coaches, loyalty to faculty, loyalty to my assistant coaches. It never reallywas a factor for me. Finally I had a little bit of time. I thought maybe we should put somethingdown so we can tell the media I've signed a contract. They put something in writing and they did it.It was nothing we really needed. It has helped in the sense that some kids know when I tell themthat I'll be around three, four or five more years that it is probably a reality.'

On USC's defense...'[USC's defense] is right up there at the top. We've played a great defensive game in 1978 whenwe played Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for the National Championship. John Majors, the old coachat Pitt and then at Tennessee, said it was the best defensive football game he has even seen. Itwas pretty close. Southern California hustles. They get good position. They take advantage ofany mistake you make. They are very impressive. They have big kids who can run. [Brian]Cushing, a kid we tried hard to get. The outside linebacker, the middle linebacker, two safeties,you are looking at kids big enough to play linebacker. That can do some things that they can do inthe secondary, rush the passer well. They're smart. They come off blocks well. They're one of thebetter defensive teams I've ever seen. They've been consistent. Every time you give up 11touchdowns in a year against some of the teams they have played. You have played darn gooddefense. They do everything well. If you make a mistake they hurt you . Tie that in with thekicking game. That kid kicks off the ball and you start from your 20. It's a formidable combinationof their great kicking game and their defense. Smart tough kids who come after you after everydown. They don't let up. They come after you after every blow.'

Wide Receiver Deon Butler

On the success he has had at Penn State...
'I never questioned my ability once I got here. Penn State was the right place for me. I knew I could succeed.I never really thought I would have a record-breaking season. I knew I could contribute to a Division I team,but maybe not to this extent.'

On choosing to attend Penn State...
'I fell in love with it. The crowd and the fans are great. My teammates, I've loved them all since I've beenhere. Coach Paterno is a legend. All of those little factors are what made me come to Penn State.'

On what it means to be the all-time leading receiver in Penn State history...
'It means a lot when I step back and look at the list and see my name up there with the other great playersthat have had successful careers in the NFL. When the season ends I will be able to reflect on it a littlemore.'

Quarterback Daryll Clark

On USC's defense...
'The thing that stands out about them is their speed and how big they are and how intense they play. Allaround, they are a real solid defense.'

'This is a different team than [other teams Penn State has faced]. They're a little bigger, a little stronger. Itis a real intense football team. You can't beat these guys by being tricky. You just have to line-up andplay.'

'The entire defensive unit [stands out]. You have 11 guys get after the ball as soon as it's thrown or handedoff. They're really intense. They have speed. The stats don't lie.'

On watching film to prepare...
'You watched games to see how other quarterbacks play against this team. You evaluate them and seehow you will play against them. Those teams are different teams. That is where it stops.'

On keeping focused...
'Once the game is around the corner, you stop paying attention to the stats that are shown on TV andwhatever is said outside the locker room and the team meetings. You just put everything together and playyour game. You can't worry about what they've done in past years or throughout the season. They'replaying one more game and you are playing one more game. You'll have to wait and see what happens.'

On USC safety Taylor Mays...
'He's a beast. He can really run fast. He can cover a lot of ground. I am going to have to work my eyes alittle bit and see if he is looking off.'

Defensive Tackle Abe Koroma

On the advice the coaches have given the team...
'The coaches told us to step back and focus on the things we needed to do [to be successful]. There's not astraight path to it. We just try to come out here and do the right things in the right way.'

On more media attention being given to USC's defense...
'I'm not surprised they are not talking about us. We know what we have to do. We see what is going on inthe media and on TV, but we don't pay attention to that. When the ball kicks off [in the Rose Bowl Game],we've got a job to do.'

Linebacker Sean Lee

On coming to the Rose Bowl injured...
'It's a dream to play in the Rose Bowl. We were at the Lawry's Beef Bowl and they played a big highlightfilm and right then, [I was] jealous because I wanted to be on the field. At the same time these are the kids Icame in with and they've worked extremely hard. To see all their hard work pay off has been reallyrewarding.'

On wanting to play...
'It's tough and I'll be at practice, pacing back and forth, wanting to be on the field. Especially now,physically, I feel a lot better. That's really tough.'

On coaching this season...
'If you go through the process of game planning against a team, you watch them during the game and howthey try to attack you. You just get used to the looks they throw at you. I feel like, now, I can go into a filmsession and watch a certain team we've played three years in a row and know exactly what they're going totry to do and what they've done in the past.'

Aaron Maybin

On the NFL draft...
'I'm not thinking about the [NFL] draft right now. Everything is focused on USC. I'm not thinking about nextyear at this point. Everything I'm focused on has to do with the Rose Bowl [game]. I don't want the focus tobe on me at this point. The team has worked very hard to get to the point where we are at right now and tobe in the position to play such a great game. I'll be doing my teammates a disservice if I brought theattention to myself. I just want to get this game out of the way and then think about it.'

On the assessment of the season...
'Aside from the [Iowa] game, we played very well. We lived up to our expectations. Obviously there is stillroom for improvement and there is a lot we could do differently. We're hoping this game could take us tothe next level.'

Safety Anthony Scirrotto

On looking back at his career at Penn State...
'It has been great. There has been a lot of learning. There have been good times and bad times, but that iswhat this whole college experience is all about. To end it [his career] playing in the Rose Bowl Game isawesome.'

On the talk and distractions that the Rose Bowl Game brings to a team...
'We are going to hear it, we know it is going to be there, but we just channel it out. We know what we arehere for and that is to play a game. We aren't doing anything but studying film and practicing. We put all ofthat other stuff to the side and let everyone else worry about it. We are just here to play.'

On the chemistry of the Penn State defensive backs...
'We just have great chemistry back there. We have been playing together for a while and we are all on thesame page. We all work together as one unit. We all rely on each other to pick each other's slack up whenneed be.'

Wide Receiver Derrick Williams

On the Rose Bowl Game match-up between Penn State and USC being just another college footballgame...
'We are playing just another college football team, but they have a good one. They've been here four yearsstraight. They've won their [Pac-10] conference to get here [Rose Bowl Game].'

On Penn State's being the underdog...
'I think people have been underrating us all year. What can we say? What can we do, but go out there andplay. We are one win away from being in the national championship [game]. People have been saying weare the underdogs, but all we can do is go out and prove that we are a great team.'

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