Pete Carroll Comments On The 2001 Trojans

Aug. 10, 2001

'It's a big deal to get this thing rolling. We go into camp with high expectations and high standards. That will set the stage for the season. Camp will be physical and tough, because we have so much to do. We had a successful summer conditioning program and that set the stage to have a great fall camp.

'Norm Chow and I spent a lot of time together in the off-season and we came together philosophically.

'Defensively, we've made some changes. We've moved some kids around. I want this to be a very competitive camp and to bring out our best and to do that you have to be competitive. Matt Grootegoed has been moved to outside linebacker, as has Frank Strong on the other side. They make it more competitive for the guys who competed in the spring -- Chris Prosser, John Cousins, Mike Pollard and Aaron Graham. The linebacker spot is an area of concern so we're going to see if we can upgrade it and at least bring out the best in the kids. It also gives us a chance to increase our team speed, which is important to me. I want us to be able to fly. To do that, you've got to get the guys on the field who can run. How it works out, we'll have to wait and see.

'In the kicking game, we've got some concerns. We go into the season knowing that. By bringing in David Davis to kick for us it makes the spot more competitive. We will have a big competition in camp and probably won't decide until right before the first game how we'll align the kickers. But the competition is on. Every kick and opportunity to put them into a competitive situation will give us a chance to get the information we need. We have a new snapper to make that situation more competitive. We're trying to create a different air in the kicking game and Kennedy Pola has been instrumental in making that happen.

'There is one concern I'd like to address. Since the tragedies across the country, I've been asked many many times how we'll deal with the care of our kids. Honestly, the incident in Minnesota with Korey Stringer raised everyone's awareness. Our education of our guys as they come to camp about the signs and issues regarding heat issues has already been addressed and will continue to be addressed. The training group will work extensively to make sure the coaches are up on it. Awareness is heightened. I hope Korey's family can understand that it will help somebody else and maybe let someone else avoid what happened.

'We had a couple kids who we were counting on coming in who were not cleared eligibility-wise. I can't give you more information on it. They're not part of the program right now and can't be until they clear their issues with the testing and the grades. We have to move on. We're supportive, but there's nothing we can do about it.

'We're anxious to see how Antuan Simmons responds in the camp. It will be interesting to watch. Our players really responded to him during our team meeting last night. He's already won the battle. Now we have to see if he can take it over the top.

'There's been a lot of questions about the difficulty of the schedule. While at USC, we're always going to have a difficult schedule. As far as how concerned we are, there's nothing we can do about it. We're only concerned about our team. It's about us right now. How far we develop and how far we take our level of execution. But we have high expectations.

(regarding Frank Strong and Matt Grootegoed's move to LB and if it's similar to a rover position):'We've talked about the flexibility that both of them give us. It's like a double rover approach. They have the ability to blitz off the edge, to cover man to man and to also do some deep coverage from their spots. Things I've done in dime and nickel packages in past years really apply here because of their athleticism. In time, if it's working out well, it will give us the opportunity to have a great package and make it difficult on our opponents.

(regarding the depth at safety):'Part of that is where do we sit with the safeties. We had a nice spring from DeShaun Hill and Jason Leach. Troy Polamalu is definitely our lead player at that position. We really like the style he brings. It gives us a lot of flexibility. It actually makes it easier for the other safety spots because of the things we can do with Troy. I think we can secure that. We have a couple young kids we like that have come in this year, so we'll take it as it comes.

(regarding what he thinks is the strength of the team):'The skill people on offense is definitely a strength. Carson Palmer at quarterback ready and poised to have a big season is where it starts. His ability to throw the ball of all different styles down the field, the quick game, laying the ball off, taking something off, putting something on, really accentuates the ability of a Kareem Kelly, who I think is ready for a breakout season. The offense will suit him extremely well. Keary Colbert has been the most improved player since we've been around here. He's ready to have a big effect. Kori Dickerson as well - he's a very mobile tight end that can get down the field and stretch the defense, as is Malaefou MacKenzie out of the backfield. Charlie Landrigan is a very good receiving fullback which allows us to spread the field for Sultan. I like those elements of the offense. It starts with Carson, he needs to be the messenger and spread the ball around the field.

(regarding Jacob Rogers' progress and the offensive line in general):'We're anxiously awaiting to see how he fits in. He did some very good things on film last year. He didn't play a down for us in spring, so I haven't seen a down from him yet. But it won't take us long. He's physically well and in good shape. He'll start on the second team and see how he works through. We're hoping he makes the spot competitive. He was a very good pass blocker last year at times and hopefully we can see it again in the fall. There's good competition and leadership. Lenny Vandermade has really taken over this group. He's real solid. You love to have that guy who can make the calls. He's taken to the role. Zach Wilson and Faaesea Mailo -- we're counting on those guys to give us good stout leadership as well. There's competition. Eric Torres, Joe McGuire, those guys will battle for spots. Norm Katnik will hopefully give us a good mobile, versatile tackle and help with the speed rush guys in the conference. But they will have to come together. They have to come together though. They've made a lot of progress. They could be a very tight group. Coach Keith Uperesa has done a good job molding it. Now we'll see how it develops.

(regarding how Norm Chow arrived at USC):'First, in evaluating what the league is all about and also looking at our players and the talent we thought we could attract, it was natural to find someone with a great background in spreading the field who could throw the football around the field and create balance. One of the wonderful things about Norm's background at BYU is the championships they've won. You can't win championships without understanding balance between running and passing. You have to have it on offense and he's been the master of it. There were a couple names that were interesting to me, but by far, if I could get Norm interested in USC then we would have a chance to put together something special. From the first contact, he was excited about it. He understood USC. He grew up in the west and knew about the potential of putting together a big-time winning program. The magnitude of recruiting in L.A. -- he knew it. The response was great from the start. I'm so happy with the way we've worked together and have been able to mix our backgrounds. Over the long haul, he's going to be a great asset to the program.

(regarding the defensive line):'I feel like we have a good strong group up front. We have some experience and athleticism and some speed with Lonnie Ford on the edge. Ryan Nielsen really is a strong leader for us. He's an excellent player. A very good technician. He's always answering the call and is always there. He's a good steadying point for some of the younger kids. Kenechi Udeze had an extraordinary spring. He's about 285 pounds and probably lost 40 pounds since he got here. He's looking sharp. Bernard Riley, by far, had the best summer of anyone on the team. He ran with every running group that ran. He ran every single time. He's the trimmest he's been. I'm really anxious to see the results of such a great summer by those two kids. I'm also anxiously awaiting how Shaun Cody fits in. Shaun has really applied himself. He did exactly what local freshmen should do. He came to practice. He watched our kids. He was here as much as he could. He took full advantage to understand our terminology and the style of our coaching and is way ahead of where most incoming freshmen are. He'll be battling for a spot. And I don't know how far he'll take it, but he's done exactly what a young man should do to get ready to play as a freshman. He could add a real nice dimension. It's an interesting group. I hope we have enough mobility. I want this group to be fast and to fly around the field and have great pursuit.

(regarding summer weight lifting):'Coach Chris Carlisle and his staff have done an incredible job. To see our guys, the change in their body make-ups -- they're different than how they were. We went from four kids benching 400 pounds to 25 kids. The only way you can do that is through work ethic. You can't fake it. You have to work your butt off and our staff has led the charge. We enter the camp in tremendous shape. Conditioning is not an issue going into camp. I know they'll be able to handle the work load and it won't hold us back.

(re: first-year WR Grant Mattos)'He had a tremendous junior college career. Was not sought after heavily by a lot of schools. We heard about him and were looking for a guy to fill a role. We went to see a QB and Grant was catching balls for him and caught Coach Chow's eyes immediately. I heard about him and looked at the film. What we've got is an extremely good worker. A guy that brings leadership by his work ethic. He's physical, tough, blocks well, works well in traffic. A real special role player for us. We wanted a sure-handed player who could go in and do the banging around on the inside and we found a guy. Now he's got to go from there, but coming in he's really fit a need that we thought would help us. Our players have already commented on what he's about. I'm really excited about him.

'Right now, the season is at hand. We're not playing for five years from now. We're going to see what we can do to get the best team on the field. The most competitive setting we can create to get the best out of the kids. Matt Leinart, like Shaun Cody, spent a lot of time here and got a good feel for the offense. He understood the cadence from the moment he stepped out there. He looks comfortable. He's embraced the opportunity. He's going for it. He's not settling for a redshirt. He wants to play now. Billy Hart can throw the football. He's got a really good arm. He's mobile and coached well. He's a different style from Matt. It gives us some flexibility. It's important to see these guys early in camp. To see early on if they have a chance to help us. So the guys that had the chance in spring football will miss some of their reps early on in camp so we can look at the new kids and see what we've got. I don't want to get six weeks into this thing and realize that this guy has something special and we missed an opportunity. That has been expressed to the players. Matt Cassel will miss a few turns to see the other kids in the first 10 days of practice, or however long it takes to assess it.

(re: if Carroll we'll focus more on the defense than the offense)'What's real important to me is to have an impact on defense. I'm going to coach the defense with my staff. It's real important we set the tempo for how the defensive style will be for years to come. We're going to be fast, we're on the attack, we're looking for guys that want to make things happen and get after the football. We have a real style that I'm bringing to these guys that I think we'll fit. I also want to help the transition and facilitate the learning, so that's why I'm going to be hands on. Tell you the truth, I'm really looking forward to it. I can't wait to be in the film room after a good hard day of double days and we're digging in and making the critiques and changes and showing them what it's all about.

(re: WR Frank Candela)'Frank's been out of football for almost four years, so we'll take his progress as it comes. I original thought of him as a kickoff returner for us and that's the duties he's competing for right now. There was some buzz about him, Frankie 'The Flash' Candela from Peabody, Mass. ... One of our coaches who had been at Washington remembered he was a kid that was offered a scholarship up north years ago. He was a big deal. I was curious and said send me some stuff on him. I was back home and as my kids and I were going out shopping before Christmas, I checked the mail and there was a video in there. So I stuck it my pocket and took off. So we we're at Best Buy and could barely move in the store. I was getting discouraged. I was looking around and saw a TV in the video department and pulled out the video and popped it in. So I'm watching and here come all the stats and the 60 touchdowns and the 6000 yards and the plays one after the other. So we're watching it and having fun watching him score touchdowns and I look around and there are 15-20 people watching Frankie. Everybody's cheering for Frankie. At the end of the film, I couldn't get out of the store, so I picked up my phone and called Frankie ... I said Frank, I like what you're doing and how'd you like to play for the Trojans. And he was very excited. He's very strong and very fast.'

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