Pete Carroll Discusses Stanford Game

Sept. 25, 2001

USC vs. Stanford Press Conference

USC Head Coach Pete Carroll

Game Review

'We are anxious to get back to football and get back on track. This week was very difficult. We had the game in hand and we did not finish it the way we wanted to. It's unfortunate because it really illustrates the great margin of a couple of points - if we win, we're in first place in the Pac-10, but we had to settle for the other end.

'Stanford is a loaded football team. This is a team that is ready to go. They have been building up to this year for a couple of years. They have 11 senior starters on defense and a loaded-up offense. We are going to be challenged but fortunately we're playing them at our place. We are looking forward to a great day at the Coliseum to get this thing turned around and get us back on track.'

Regarding the third down decision at the end of the game...

'What we did was a little spread-out thing. It is a play that we have practiced before. If the route becomes wide open, then we throw it and minimize the risk of any kind of turnover. If not, we go ahead and take the loss and run the ball. So it is a chance to run off a little bit of the clock, throw for the first down if you can get it and keep the clock rolling. What happened on that particular play was that with the rush they presented Carson Palmer, it made him roll way back. Even though he knew we wanted to run the ball and make the clock run, he felt that he was so far back that taking a loss there would put us in a big hole for the punt. He felt the right decision was to throw the ball away.

'But that was not the deciding play in the game by any means. We had plenty of chances right after that to stop them and we did not do it.'

Why not run the ball and take away their time out?

'We could have done that but we felt we wanted the opportunity to make the first down. The time differential you are talking about - if they would have had to use their timeout then - would not have amounted to much for them.'

Was the running game disappointing?

'Unfortunately, we were not able to run the ball well all night. The other side of that is that we need to stay with some type of mixed pass-run game plan. I feel that we have to do that in order to create some kind of a balance. Even though you may not be effective at running the ball in a particular game, it still creates a balance when the defense continues to defend with 8-9 guys up front. It exposes their secondary so we can throw the football, and that is what we did. We threw the ball for over 400 yards. That is what should happen... if we have to give up the running game because of the way they are playing, then we have to be able to throw the football. We were not able to do that against Kansas State so it is an improvement for us.'

Regarding Stanford's running game...

'They have such a good running game. Both their kids that run the football are really effective so you have to go into the game knowing that you have to take care of the running game. I am hoping that that will not make us vulnerable to the pass. We are not a team that is going to send everyone to stop the run and live with what happens on the pass. That is not the way we play. We have to play somewhere in the middle of that. I am hoping that our corners can do a nice job on their receivers. We have to cover the tight end who is an effective receiver for them too. The big factor for them is that they can run the football well, pass the football well, but when the play breaks down Randy Fasani (quarterback) also starts to create. He creates like early stages of a John Elway, Doug Flutie or Brett Favre. He makes plays that already make him look like those guys. That is what is hard to defend... things that are not in the normal scope of a play.'

Regarding special teams against Oregon...

'We covered punts alright, we punted adequately, we blocked that field goal at a critical time, we did really good things in the kicking game except on our kickoff coverage team where we bombed out. We just did not get it done. That was not an area in which we thought we were going to get in trouble or we had any special concerns about. They adjusted and we were a step behind.'

Regarding Norm Chow in the press box...

'We felt it was important to help our players get started this season by having him on the field. We knew he was going to move up to the booth eventually but did not know when. He prefers to see the game from up above so he just wanted to make sure the players were comfortable before he made the change. There was no problems with communication this week so we think we'll keep it that way.'

Regarding defensive decision at end of game...

'I have done it a number of different ways. Sometimes it is better to sit back and sometimes it is better to get after them. It depends on how the game goes. We had not had an opportunity to rush the guy up until that point and I really wanted to make it hard on the quarterback by pressuring him. It was out of respect because (Joey Harrington) is a good football player. We wanted to put the pressure on him and he did a nice job of avoiding the rush. He did better than we rushed him and my hats off to him. That is the same thing we did against Dan Marino in a 12-10 game on Monday Night Football and it worked, we got him. Again I respect the fact that he did a good job.'

Regarding Carson Palmer's performance...

'I really do not think that his decision at the end of the game was a crushing decision. When you have an opportunity to throw the ball there is always a chance that something different end up happening then what you would like. That is the risk we took. I think he is growing. He is a tremendous player, a tremendous competitor. He shows all of the positives that we are looking for and he is going to continue to grow and develop as a player. I do not think he is a seasoned veteran yet. He will continue to grow for the next five, six years. Quarterbacks don't arrive when they are juniors in college - that is not how it works. I am just glad he is on our team.'

Regarding the no-huddle offense...

'We are getting there and we will be better at that. There is a lot that goes on that needs to be taken into consideration and we have to get a feel for. That is the first time we have had the opportunity to use that and we will continue to use it. There is a lot to it and I really think that Carson Palmer is going to excel at this. It is an opportunity to make the defense play a little more 'vanilla' if they don't like the tempo of it. It is an opportunity for us to spread the field and use all of our guys. It is an opportunity for the quarterback to run and scramble. It is going to be a really good part of our offense.

Regarding Matt Grootegoed...

'He is still recovering. It is going to be late in the week before we know if he is ready. He has to respond a little bit more before he gats banged around in practice. He will run around and be out there at practice today but we have to make sure that he recovers fully.'

Regarding Carson Palmer and Antuan Simmons...

'Both of them got nicked a little in the game. Antuan got an ankle injury that is not major and will take him a couple of days. Carson got a thigh bruise that will also take them a couple of days but they will both be back by the end of the week.'

Regarding Bobby DeMars starting...

'He did a real good job for us in this game, he did some really good things for us. Of course, he had the big field goal block, knocked the ball down and had some good tackles. He will play but we will determine the lineup shift week-to-week.'

Regarding the team's ability to rebound this week...

'I have never been worried about team's ability to come back. There is too much waiting for us up ahead for the team not to respond and that is what I am counting on. My job is to not let things like this compound. I am responsible for attitude control.'

Sultan McCullough's effectiveness in a pass-run offense...

'In the future I am hoping that we will do better in pass-run situations like that. We have to maintain that balance. Not every team we face is going to play like that.'

Concerns about Stanford...

'They have looked ahead to this season since last year, knowing that they were going to be a really good team. They have established that already this season. Their confidence is really high. They are coming on a real positive note. I think that this is a very dangerous team for everyone in our conference. This is a very well-equipped, deep football team. They really spread the ball around. Kerry Carter is really big-time. They're feeling Randy Fasani because he is the playmaker for them. He has made the special plays in the first couple of games that have really pumped them up. They have a great free safety and he makes a lot of plays.'

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