Carroll, Neuheisel Discuss USC-Washington Game

Oct. 15, 2002

Football Press Conference Quotes

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'We are pleased that we got back on track and got a win. It was a hard-fought and difficult when we started. I was pleased with how we turned the game around. We took charge of the game on offense. The offensive lineman played well and I thought Norm Chow called a very good game and using what was there for us. We wanted to give Sultan McCullough the opportunity to carry the ball throughout the game. It was clearly illustrated in the second half that it was a good move. I think if Justin Fargas would have had that many carries, he would have done really well, but we had to make a choice and went with Sultan. He came through for us. He had a heck of a football game and took advantage of the opportunity. It's a good win for us and illustrates how difficult our games are each week. We have Washington coming in this week that's an excellent team that is highlighted by a big-time passing attack. When you throw for 380 yards in a game, that's supposed to be your all-time high, but they are averaging that. Cody Pickett is on fire. Again, it's a different football team, different style from other teams. They have been effective. I'm pumped that we are coming back to play them here at the Coliseum. We had a great crowd last week. I hope it will be a rousing game again. Playing earlier in the day should help. I'm looking forward to a chance to win another game. Each game to us is like a playoff game. We have to keep winning each one and stay on pace to win the Pac-10 title. If you don't, you better hope that everyone in front of you lost. It's close enough competitively that I think we are going to find it like this for the rest of the season. We have to take care of our business.'

(talking about injury status...)

'We did get the MRI results back on Shaun Cody. He's hurt and will need surgery. He will be out for the rest of the season. Jacob Rogers is not anywhere near the same extent as Shaun. We expect him back in a couple of weeks, fairly soon. In place of Shaun, Mike Patterson will play in his spot and we are lucky to have Bernard Riley coming in, who started a lot of games for us. He's a good player. Eric Torres will start at left tackle if Jacob can't go this week.'

(talking about playing defense against Washington offensive attack...)

'That is one of the challenges. They have a great quarterback, Rich Alexis is a fine running back. Reggie Williams is a terrific threat, he's averaging over 100 yards a game. You put all of that together with an offensive line that protects the quarterback really well, it's really difficult. The conference is loaded with offense and they are one of the big offensive teams.'

(talking about Shaun Cody's impact on the defense...)

'Shaun has been a true Trojan. He has lived up to it from the moment he stepped on campus. He's a leader and has been an inspiration. He's a great football player. We are going to miss him. We know we will get him back next season. In the meantime, he has just been a perfect performer. He has done everything that we could have asked of him. He helps everyone out and the kind of guy you can build around so that's a great loss for us. We expect we will get some play from Bernard Riley and Mike Patterson will do a good job inside. It's hard to replace a guy like Shaun who has all of that stature.'

(talking about lack of carries by Justin Fargas last week...)

'I figured that Justin would get the ball more than he did last week. We sort of got captivated with what Sultan was doing, we just wanted to stay with it. Justin's going to play, he's too good of a football player and he will be in there. We can't play guys to make them happy, we have to play guys to win. He won't get as many carries until he does or until the opportunity arises in his favor. I fully expect for him to compete. I like him to get the ball more than he did last week, it just didn't happen like that.'

(talking about status of Troy Polamalu...)

'We will expect that Troy will battle to get back. He was on the practice field yesterday; he ran around and got some work done. It was a light practice. We will just have to see how it goes. I can't tell you now what will happen. He doesn't even know. We will just have to see how it responds and how he takes to running around. He's determined and dedicated to doing it.'

(talking about the possibility of playing on defense without Troy Polamalu, Shaun Cody and Kevin Arbet...)

'I didn't think that way, I didn't have that nightmare. I was thinking more happy thoughts in the preseason. I have had a lot of seasons where I have had to deal with major injuries and situations. It calls for major adjustments. That's the mode we are in right now. Playing without Troy last week and losing him in the Washington State game, that was an enormous hit for us in planning. Shaun has been in there for every snap in two years. He hardly ever comes off the field for us. He's a great player. You have to adjust and find out what your guys do well and, hopefully, have enough stuff in your package that will let your players play well. We just have to fight on. It's also an opportunity for other guys. Some of the younger guys have to step up and be involved more in the game. The sense of urgency will shift to them. It's been difficult, but I will never make excuses about it. It's more about the challenge to fix it.'

(talking about Angels or Giants?...)

'Boy, how about that. How about those Giants. Is this the ultimate Dodgers' angst or what? The Giants versus the Angels. Golly, that's got to be hard to take. I was pumped last night; I had it in here in the office. I was born in San Francisco so I have a little bit of a background with them. It was great to see Dusty Baker get those guys going. I'm pumped up about the series.'

(talking about offensive line...)

'I think we had a couple of good football games, but the California game was more characteristic of the game how we played up front. We played physically, we blocked well. We were consistent. That's about all an offensive line can hope for. Our guys had a lot of fun with it and took a lot of pride. Hopefully, we can keep in going and keep the momentum going, I think it helps our commitment to the running backs.'

(talking about offense last week...)

'I talked to them about how well the offense took care of us. They have been playing some good football. The way we won was special. When you are behind in a game and you can take it over physically, that's a good thing.'

Washington Head Coach Rick Neuheisel

(talking about feelings of the season so far...)

'We have had some big-time disappointments, unfortunately, in the first half of our season. The loss at Michigan was difficult to swallow, given how it unfolded. Michigan's a top program and to go in there and play as hard as we played as long as we did and have it disappear was difficult. We played three games at home following that Michigan loss where we didn't really dominate the game as we envisioned we would. Then, we lost to California, who I think will turn out to be a very good football team in this conference and broke a 19-game losing streak against Washington, which left a real hangover effect here. We found a way to beat Arizona last week. We had high expectations at the start of the season, but for some reason, we have not reached those expectations. Hopefully, we can muster up a good effort against a good USC team this weekend and see if we can't get our season turned around.'

(talking about passing game and quarterback Cody Pickett...)

'Cody has been one of the reasons that we have hung in there this year. He's made a lot of plays. He's a gifted player and a tough guy. We are lucky that we have him. He has a nice group of weapons to throw to...Reggie Williams is having a great season even though he didn't start the season in great shape. Paul Arnold, Pat Reddick are having a good season. Charles Frederick has shown up and made some big plays for us. That's a nice group of receivers and Kevin Ware has been a factor for us. Where we are struggling is running the ball. We are committed to it. We are going to see if we can't find ways to churn out some yards on the ground.'

(talking about running game...)

'I'm sure that as we trace the roots going back, we will see that we didn't emphasize it enough because we did get enamored with the ability to throw the ball down the field. Ultimately, we have to have some guys make some plays. I think it starts with us as coaches. We just have to do a better job of emphasizing it.'

(talking about defense...)

'We have been stricken by the injury bug on defense. It's not just this year, it's happened in the past couple of years. We have been unable to stay healthy. We are probably playing with guys who are not 100 per cent and it's showing in our games. We have a great group of kids who are trying hard. We are doing some good things against the run. For the most part, we have hung in there. We held Arizona down. They didn't try much, especially when they threw for 440 yards. The bottom line is we have to play better defense and, in particular, we have to tackle better. This is going to be a huge challenge. We are playing a USC team that holds the ball right now for 35 minutes a game. For us to be competitive in this game, we have to keep that from happening because to keep our defense on the field that long would be really difficult. That to me is the key. We have to stay on the field and keep USC off.'

(talking about recent NCAA sanctions on him...)

'I don't think it's had any effect on our team. It had nothing to do with this particular team. They had no involvement with what happened many years ago in my relationship with the University of Colorado. From that standpoint, it hasn't been a distraction. Personally, it's very difficult to have things that are said about you to be said without having a full chance to explain one's self and to give everyone the reasons. They didn't say every day would be easy. So we do the very best that we can and I'm willing to do my best to move forward. As I have said many times, I look at myself in the mirror and don't have to shake my head to wonder why I did something drastic or dastardly. I know what took place, why the things have transpired and I am comfortable with all of that. It's difficult again to have the things said about yourself and have your character plowed through as has been the case especially back in Colorado. All I know is I gave as good an effort as I possibly could while I was there.'

(talking about this week's game against USC...)

'Obviously, Pete Carroll has done a great job recruiting. He has got some great athletes on both sides of the ball. Sometimes, recruiting just isn't getting guys to come to your school...sometimes it's changing guys from one side of the ball to the other. He has a very fast and athletic defense. They understand what he is trying to get done in terms of his scheme and it's no accident that they are the best defense in the Pac-10. He does a great job. It's fun for me to watch as a fan of coaching in that it's well-orchestrated and there are a lot of kids that understand what each other is's good football. Offensively, they have kind of grown into themselves. The offensive players have now played for a long, a majority of them. Carson Palmer has been a starter for four years. Kareem Kelly has been there for a while. Sultan McCullough and Alex Holmes have been there for a long time. There is a great deal of experience on that side of the ball. The point of the matter is they know each other and operating efficiently. The left hand knows what the right hand is doing at USC. That to me is indicative of good coaching, they are playing to their strengths. They are keeping the ball, keeping the defense off the field. They are being very patient and it's good football.'

(talking about Sultan McCullough and the challenges he brings to the defense...)

'He's a threat to go the distance. That's the problem. He is a very gifted player with gifted legs. You can't let him squirm out because all of a sudden, he will be gone. Those are the kind of game breakers that we all covet. We are going to do our best to see if we can keep him contained and hopefully keep him from breaking open the game.'

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