Carroll, Teevens Discuss USC-Stanford Game

Nov. 5, 2002

USC Coach Pete Carroll

'One of the questions marks here is how we handled our bye week. I can't tell you how it will turn out. I like the work we got done last week. We went aggressively on our major practices. We need to see how we respond. Yesterday we started the preparation for the game this week and today's a big day and tomorrow. I won't know really until the game. I'm pleased we got good work done. Hopefully we rested enough guys that needed the rest. Kareem Kelly looked good yesterday and some of the guys looked a little stronger than they've been.

'It's an exciting time. With four games left, we realize there's a lot out there for us to be gained if we can push hard and be effective in the last month and it starts with Stanford. It's a huge game for us and each of these games, as they've been, seems pivotal. You just have to bring your best each week and expect that your opponents will be at their best and play really good football. We hope we can keep an edge going and maintain it. I'm excited to see us come back and see if we can keep Carson firing the football like he has been and see Justin Fargas, coming off the Oregon game, and see how he does. We'll get our defense revved up again too.

'I've seen the rankings come out and I know you want to know how we feel about that. It's good for the program, but it doesn't mean anything unless we do something about it. So we're not going to get caught up in it and not going to dwell on it. It's more interesting when you finish way up there. We'll see where it is at the end of the season.'

(Re: on his experience with teams coming off bye weeks)

'I've seen both ends. I was pleased that earlier in the season we played well out of the bye. We did things in the same fashion (last week). We competed (in practice) probably harder in this one than in the first one. It can work both ways. We had a good week, so it's all I'm concerned about. Now we just prepare this week for a huge game.'

(Re: Stanford's offense)

'We studied it hard and because we haven't seen them in year's past, we went to every game they've played and wanted to see the unveiling of their offense. (Stanford Coach Buddy Teevens) had a background at Florida and has been a productive offensive person. I think we have a good feel for it now. It was fortunate that we play them down the road in the season because we had a lot of stuff to look at. They've done a lot of stuff with their offense and they're very diversified from week to week. I'm a little uncomfortable with how they're going to play us. We're going to have to wait and adjust during the game and see what their thoughts are. They tailor their system to their opponents.'

(Re: Carson Palmer)

'I think he's playing great football. He's a fantastic player. No different than what I felt all along. He's doing a tremendous job with the system. He's able to audible. He's able to change plays. He's able to fix things for us on the field. He plays with great awareness. He's comfortable in difficult settings. He's played well on the road. I think we've allowed him to throw the things that show the variety of style he has. He's a great thrower on the run. He's a terrific pocket passer and really quick rhythm guy. Those are the things he excels at. I'm probably most pleased with his ability to create outside the pocket. We don't always catch the things he throws on the run when he's moving around. He shown a tremendous knack for finding guys and doing those type of things. He's been as good as you can be.

(Re: differences between this year and last year with Palmer)

'I think it's everything else, everything around him. I think the coaches have a done a good job of styling the things around him. It was really an important issue in the off-season to get things to fit and get him aware of what we're doing and aware of how we'd use his strengths. We're protecting much better up front. The addition of Mike Williams has been really exciting. Our running backs are helping and we're playing solid defense. I said at the beginning of the year, if we put together a balanced team, Carson could be a great football player and I think that's what you're seeing. I think in the past years, we haven't been as good of a team in the areas that complement what he brings. Now he's really able to show off what he has. This guy is an enormous talent. There is nobody that is going to set up better in the pocket, with a quicker release, that has more variety of style of throws in America. There's nobody. He's able to do that. I'm pleased we've shown that through our style of offense.'

(Re: Offensive line's improvements)

'They were all sophomores last year and now they're all juniors. That's huge. They've played together for a long time. Basically, it's been the same guys. I think Tim Davis has had a remarkable impact on these guys bringing them together. There's a lot of pride there now. We've also styled some things that have helped them protection-wise. The rhythm of our passing game is so quick right now, it lends to good protection and makes people rush us in a particular manner that helps us as well. The running backs are big-time backs that help you block better and perform better.

(Re: Stanford's running game)

'They're really good up front. They've got good blockers. Three returning linemen. A tight end, a big fullback and a huge tailback. When they're pounding away with Carter, it's a lot of firepower. They believe in the running game and they stay with it. A lot of teams run to throw the ball and these guys have a philosophy about staying with the run game and it gives them good consistency. They're still coming together. They've played well against some good teams. They just hit Oregon at the wrong time, on the tail of two big-time losses. I think it's a good, solid team that can be dangerous to us. Their style on defense is well-positioned and they move their guys around in a variety of coverages. It's a tough challenge for us right now.'

Stanford Coach Buddy Teevens

(Re: Expectations heading into the season)

'We had questions about our defense. We graduated a large number of talented players. We had some holes offensively through graduation as well. Defensively, I thought we had some athletes and I think it's been borne out. Our younger players still make freshman mistakes, but by and large they've improved from a defense perspective. Offensively, we had some guys we hoped would have big years, but hasn't proven the case at this point. We've had a wealth of injuries at different positions, like Chris Lewis and Terry Carter. Kind of one after the other. Continuity has been difficult. We're hoping for more things offensively. The attitude has been very positive. We've progressed the last few weeks without the bottom line of wins. But we look forward to a team like USC coming.'

(Re: Status of quarterbacks)

'Of the three, Ryan Eklund is the healthiest. He finished up the game at Oregon. He came in in a critical drive and made some key throws. He's 100%. Kyle Matter who had started the game, went down with a bruised forearm - it was nothing. The x-rays were negative. He practice yesterday. He's sore but could execute. Chris Lewis, out for the last two weeks, has not taken snaps, but threw the ball a little last night. Right now, he's questionable, but he looked better yesterday than he has in the last few weeks.'

(Re: Success of running game)

'We threw a bunch of passes early on without great success and resorted to running the ball more. We've had more productivity over the last six or eight weeks. Casey Moore has performed well for us. Kerry Carter, out for the early portion, has started to come along. Kenneth Tolon has made some progress. Really, our approach has been whatever we need to do to move the ball down the field. We've had a number of long drives, 20-play, 21-play drives. We'd like to have more chunk yardage, if you will. A big run or pass.'

(Re: Receiver Teyo Johnson)

'He's certainly a tall target. The match-ups, he's more difficult to cover in close quarters because of size and strength. People have doubled him up a little bit in the course of season, which has been frustrating for him. And it's been without our speed guy on the other side. He's a talented guy. He's not a break away speed guy, but he can make big plays for us and we hope he makes a few more for the remainder of the season.'

(Re: USC)

'Carson Palmer is a very talented guy. I'd seen a little tape last summer and it seems he's settled into a real comfort level with the offense. He'll throw the ball to a variety of receivers. He'll throw the short, the intermediate and the long ball. His offensive line has provided great time for him. They do a nice job protecting the passer. The receivers - I knew Mike Williams when recruiting at Florida. I was very impressed with him last year. I'm glad to see he's having success, though would rather he didn't have it against us. Kareem Kelly and Keary Colbert are very talented on the outside and can do a lot of things after the catch. That is one of the things that is impressive to me. They'll hit a throw and all of the sudden it's a big play. Guys make people miss in the open field and they've been physical as wide receivers. Running backs, Fargas is a good-sized individual and McCullough is the same situation. They're talented. They've been there before. They can run physically inside and have the speed to go outside.'

(Re: More on Palmer and comparing him to the quarterbacks he saw at Florida)

'He's been mentioned as a Heisman possibility and I think it's justified. He throws the ball well. He hits all different types of throws. He's mobile for a big guy. He'll adjust if he gets flushed. He seems to have a good presence. The guys we had at Florida, he's as good as anyone I've seen in that section of the country.'

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