Pete Carroll Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 19, 2002

Football Press Conference Quotes

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'Our football team is pretty excited about this position that we are in right now. We entered this month knowing that we had some special games and matchups. It was important that we made it through the Stanford and Arizona State games so we could get to this point with a chance to finish on a really high note in conference. It was important to stay focused and I was really pleased with the outcome for both games. We came out of the Arizona State game in good shape. Our spirits are high right now. We are looking forward to the challenge of playing in the Rose Bowl against UCLA. UCLA has been on a good run and done some great things with their team. The coaches have done a great job with young quarterbacks and a young running back. They have found a way to be solid at this time of the year. They have their eye on finishing with two wins. This will be a great pinnacle for us in a great match up. We hope to put a great week of preparation. We will see if we can stay on track and do the things that we know how to do to prepare for a great game. The eye of all fans in the area will be on this game.'

(talking about comparing the USC-UCLA rivalry to others...)

'I have been involved with some nice ones, Ohio State-Michigan, Texas-Arkansas, Iowa State-Iowa, North Carolina-North Carolina State...those are some huge ones. As a kid, I watched this game so I have a special understanding about it. It's the best one of all of them as far as I'm concerned. I respect it because so many people care.'

(talking about impact of the game on recruiting...)

'It is important. If you noticed, it was very important to us last year and it will continue to be since the heart of our recruiting is right here in southern California. Every kid is watching this game and every parent wants to see how you fare against the cross-town rival. There is a lot riding on this. You can try to stack up the different elements of the pressure that builds on a game like this. It's a great opportunity for us.'

(talking about symbolism of Justin Fargas and playing at home after transferring from Michigan...)

'When the opportunity first came about and we heard that he was thinking about leaving Michigan, it really dawned on me that this is a great opportunity to show kids in our area that this is a great area to play football and have a great college career. It's a good story and great opportunity for him to show what he is all about. To start for the first time in the Coliseum was a big deal for him. He knows how significant this game is for him as a local kid. This is his only shot at doing it, so we need to keep him calmed down and focus on the task at hand. He will be just about as pumped as anyone on the team.'

(talking about UCLA running back Tyler Ebell...)

'I watched Tyler when we first got here. I still took a look at his film even though he had already committed. I had heard so much about him. I thought he was fantastic. He has not taken one step backwards since he got his opportunity. He has had a great run and really affected their football team. He has given them a good approach on how to win. He's tough as nails, makes big plays and has a unique style. He can run the ball very well inside and out, loves to turn the corner.'

(talking about first experience last year as head coach in the USC-UCLA game...)

'It's been very pleasant. To give all of our following and our fans that kind of game last year in the first chance we had was very special. Our people took a lot of pride. I'm sure talking around the water cooler was fun for our fans. It emphasizes how significant the game is and how much fun it is for our fans to get a win. Everywhere you turn, there is another element of why this is an important game. It has been a good year for the Trojans in that regard.'

(talking about impact of game on the conference championship...)

'We are still battling for the conference title. This is a championship-type game. UCLA has a chance to do something about it for the following game against Washington State as well. This is awesome for everyone that we both have a lot of wins and excited about our team. This is for the bragging rights.'

(talking about UCLA's defense...)

'They are very solid. They have played consistently for two years. To hold your opponents for two years under a 50 per cent completion rate, you have to be doing some good things. Their coverage is very stingy and doesn't give up the big play. They have an aggressive coverage style. They pressure well. It's a clear scheme.'

(talking about the margin of victory in last year's 27-0 win and impact on this year's game...)

'It doesn't matter and has no significance to this game. Last year doesn't have any bearing on what happens now, only if you allow it to do that. That is the way I talk to our team about all of our game. What happens before just doesn't matter right now. It may mean something more for them, but we are going to go out and try to win the football game. We want to do what we have always done and see what this year's story is all about.'

(talking about UCLA coaching job with only eight seniors on the team...)

'I think they are doing a nice job. Look at what they have done after losing their starting quarterback. They have done some nice things and have been consistent. I'm sure they have been proud about keeping it together and be able to generate this leadership you need when you lose your veteran quarterback. They have done a fine job.'

(talking about play of UCLA's quarterbacks...)

'It's obvious that they have young quarterbacks. They have not thrown a pick yet which is beyond my go into big games without making bad throws. That's good coaching and good job of playing football. Every quarterback we face, I want to make it so they have to turn their heads all the time and are confused. That's the focal point of your attack. What they are doing well is that they are running the ball successfully so they aren't giving you many chances to affect the quarterback's play. They know what they are doing. If we get our chances, we are going to make it difficult like we did against Arizona State.

(talking about UCLA and Notre Dame games being similar to a bowl atmosphere...)

'This is a great schedule. The place will be crazy and rocking. These are great games to end your season. You can't ask for anything more as a player, coach or fan. This is as good as it gets. In California, fans get jacked up and they are going to turn out 90,000 fans strong two weeks in a row. That's huge. People across the country would like to think that people in California are laid back and don't get fired up about football, but that's not the case. Stadiums are sold-out and it's going to be really special. I'm really excited about this...I can't ask for anything more as a coach. It makes it easy to push the players and give it everything you have. This is a terrific time.'

(talking about kick returns...)

'We haven't put our problems to rest. When Ryan Killeen kicks the ball out of the end zone, we are pretty good. It's an area of focus for us. It's a little bit of a sore tooth for us. A lot of phases of our kicking game, however, are solid for us. Our coverage on kickoffs has not been up to par for us.'

(talking about punt returners and play of freshman Justin Wyatt...)

'Greig Carlson has done a great job at catching the ball. He has handled the ball so well and being consistent at it. It was nice to get the freshmen in there last week. We will continue to do that. Justin did very well. There was one play where he got confused on, but played some really good man-to-man coverage throughout the game. He got tested a couple of times. It was an opportunity for a young guy. He came right back and really played well. It's a good step for him. You have to have a short memory as a corner back.'

(talking about if surprised about team's record despite injuries...)

'I expect that you are going to have problems and hurdles during a season. I have never been through a season where you didn't have a key injury. It's about how you respond to them. A couple of our guys had asked where we would have been if a couple of guys would have stayed healthy and I diffused that in a hurry because it's about how you deal with the obstacles. I pride myself as a challenge as a coach that you have to get your focus back after injuries. You can't use them as a crutch. You have to develop guys that they can fit in and help you at the same level. That is one of our biggest challenges as a coach. It's nothing something that you can hope to avoid.'

(talking about being a defensive coach matching up against an offensive coach like UCLA's Bob Toledo...)

'You feel like that all the time, matching wits against offensive coaches. It begins with the preparation. I like that. I'll take any little motivation to get pumped up. There are a number of teams like that in the conference.'

(talking about UCLA corner back Matt Ware...)

'He's a terrific safety who is playing as a corner back and doing well at both jobs. That's the same idea that we have with Marcell Allmond when you match up a bigger corner. Matt's a big kid and matches up with bigger receivers.'

(talking about hype affecting players during USC-UCLA week...)

'I try to deal with it up front instead of ignoring it. We talk about it and how to deal with it. Our approach has been, and will continue to be, to do the same type of things in preparation. We don't try to make one game bigger than the other. In that regard, we are not going to do special things this week. I want to stay the same. There's a natural element that is built in so you deal with it and go about your business.'

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