April 4, 2003

USC Head Coach Pete Carroll's End-of-Spring Football Press Conference Quotes �-- April 4, 2003

Spring Recap...

'The most important aspect of spring football and getting something accomplished was to see if we could recapture the attitude of the way we practiced and prepared. We've developed a mentality about the way we work directed by the coaches and the leaders. So as we come back together as a new team with new leaders emerging I was really concerned that we would come out and battle at the same level. Through 13 practices it's been a fantastic spring for us in that regard. Every day guys have been battling each other and practice has a tremendous pitch and I have had no problems. We've improved through spring, we've developed some of the young players, but more importantly we were capturing our own attitude for the way we work because it's a new team. So I'm really fired up about that.

On QB Situation...

'The big questions on the football team obviously go right to the quarterbacks. We had some depth issues that we couldn't do much about. We fortunately made it through the spring intact and had a good healthy spring but the quarterback situation really draws the attention. Today if we were playing a football game, Matt Leinert would start the game. Going into spring that wasn't the case but it proves that spring football can be of tremendous value in terms of competitive settings and guys can improve their stature. So Matt has taken it to this point where he'll be the first guy going and he'll be the first guy starting in our final scrimmage on Saturday. That's somewhat of a statement there but the competition continues. These guys have been battling and it's been very, very even. It hasn't been clear at all. Through it, those guys have had good days, have been competitive throughout and had a few down times. That's why I haven't really haven't been able to get it clear until this time. But if we're going to play today or tomorrow, that's how we would start it. So that's where we are. The guys are competing. Matt Cassell has had a good spring, Billy Hart had a good spring, and Brandon Hance has had a good spring. They really made a pitch for themselves and they are not out of the woods at all for playing time. I wouldn't hesitate if we were struggling to put in one of the other guys because it's been so close.

On Offensive Line...

'As you look at our offense up front, we're experienced and we're strong and we're healthy. We've got guys who have been out there before, we have some flexibility. Jacob Rogers has been a leader for this football team. He's experienced, a savvy football player, the guys listen to him and he's a good player for us. Lenny Vandermade has had a good spring as well and it's been a solid spring for our guys going up against an exceptionally good front across the ball from them. Fred Matua, who started for the time Zach Wilson was out last fall camp, was hurt last year. Freddy has held on to his spot so far. All of these positions will be competitive in the fall with the new kids coming in. We think we really have a high-quality group of guys we can battle and push for playing time and I won't hesitate to give them the chance to do that. I'm looking forward to that. As far as backups, I think Travis Watkins had one of the better springs playing in a couple spots and we won't hesitate to play Travis. That's a plus for us. The tight ends played well, we've got a good group. We got a lot of play from Dominique Byrd this spring, we saw him a ton when Alex Holmes, who was having a great spring, went down. He's (Byrd) going to be a big factor for us.

On Wide Receivers...

'Mike Williams and Keary Colbert have been very good in camp. Michael has made plays and he's bigger and stronger than he was. We've been able to move our receivers to different spots in the offense because they know what we're doing and that's another plus for us. The big surprise on offense has been Justin Wyatt, moving him from defense. He's played with the first group when Keary wasn't in there a couple of times and he's our fastest receiver. He's been big down the field and done a good job with catching and running. He's got running back skills coming out of high school, he's made a great transition to the point where we don't want to hold him back. He's totally going to be an offensive player and in emergency situations he can help us on defense and has done fine there, too.

On Running Backs...

'As we look ahead, obviously the running back situation will be instrumental to see how it pans out with the young kids coming in because we need backup help and I'd like to hammer the football some with those guys who come in. They're terrific prospects and we'll count on all of them to be a factor. But that will be important how we develop the freshmen tailbacks. We missed Brandon Hancock. It's too bad he wasn't out there, but he probably learned by watching. But there's nothing like playing. But he'll come back in the spot. We're really counting on him to help us out at fullback.

On Defense...

'The defense had a very good spring. The big addition and surprise was Lofa Tatupu who had a great spring at the middle linebacker spot. We lose Michael Pollard, who was a leader and who had played just about every snap at that spot. The position was a big question mark with Oscar Lua being hurt. We would have thought that Oscar would come in and move right into that starting position but he was injured and so Lofa had the opportunity and really did a good job. So we'll be deep in that position. The front has been real solid, they've been exceptional throughout the spring and that's even without Shaun Cody. LaJuan Ramsey filled in for him and has done a very nice job and has had to play like a front liner. And Frostee Rucker has been a factor, too, helping out with Omar Nazel. Frostee gives a little more speed than we had for our pass rush. What we really need is depth at all the spots and inside in particular. We need to develop our young kids that come in and look forward to them being a factor. We expect them to be in the rotation right as we go through camp.

On Defensive Backs...

'Kevin Arbet was hobbled a little bit in coming back from the injury but he's finishing his spring practicing and he's looked terrific and he's just a big-play guy that we're really fortunate to have coming back. Marcell Allmond is in good shape. He hurt himself in track but did very well early on. We're much farther along than we were last year when we wound up playing with two guys who hadn't really started much. So Marcell is just about a full-time starter from the year before and he plays like a real veteran. So that spot is in good shape.

On Matt Leinart...

'He shows real good sense about the game, playing situational football for us and he's a good thinker. He does a nice job in some little things like handling the cadence and his audibles are sharp and he has good command out there. He's got good stature, he's a big kid and sees the field real well and he's throwing the ball a lot stronger than he has before. We really made an emphasis for him to use all his strength. He used to try to place it and he's changed that. That was a big factor in him elevating himself. He has a big arm and he's really using it consistently now. The velocity hasn't at all hurt his accuracy and especially helped on the downfield stuff. The ball is getting there a little sooner and that leaves a chance for a little more space. We always thought he had it in him but right now he looks good.

On Hershel Dennis...

'Hershel has really been good. Last year, it was hard not to see the special things he had, his savvy, his ability to cut back in the hole. He showed he was tough and durable. That showed up again with all the playing time he had this spring and he got banged around by a good defense. He never wavered or flinched. He's made a lot of big plays and made them miss in the open field and done all the things you hope a tailback would do. He weighs 190 pounds now and put on 15 pounds since he arrived. We're really excited about him. He's really improved on his pass protection. He really understands the scheme now and he's tough and he'll stick his head in there and pick up blitzes. That's an area that will be difficult for us with all our young tailbacks, so Hershel will have to be good. Also, he has really good vision. We're going to find out how we're going to spell him because we're not going to expect him to carry the ball on every play, so that's why the freshmen are so important.

On Brandon Hance...

'He's throwing the ball well. It's been a process of getting him back. This is the first span he's had of throwing the ball hard for a month. The first two weeks he wavered with his strength, but he threw the ball well this past week. He's only going to get better and stronger.

More on Leinart...

'I don't think Matt Leinart will go out tomorrow in the scrimmage and anything will really change a month of work, but I'll take it into account and see what happens. We'll see if in this setting some guys rise up a little more than others. He's going first tomorrow and the day after that if he can hold his spot. I know he'll look at it that he's got to hold onto his job and keep it and keep guys from taking that first spot from him. The end of last week, we thought going into this final week we wanted to take a real good look at him because he had been doing some good things. And he was proving that he could throw the ball with more velocity and would continue to prove he'd do that with more consistency. It's exciting to see a guy go into spring and help himself. And that's what he did. I'm anxious to see how it turns out. He runs well, he scrambles well. He has a real good sense in the pocket and a natural feel to move the football. He's played a lot of quarterback and been very successful in high school and threw the ball a bunch on a championship team. That has a lot to do with where he is now. He's really jacked up about this opportunity. He's going to try to hold onto this spot and the other guys are going to try to take it away. It's a very healthy competition.

On how many incoming freshmen showed up to watch spring practice...

'Other than a couple track guys, we've had great turnouts. And the others will be by this weekend, including the guys from out of the area. It really accelerates the transition. That's been a real positive.

On Darnell Bing...

'We wanted to see what he looked like at tailback and gain some information if we needed to go to him if things didn't work out with the freshmen tailbacks. He could easily play tailback. He did very well back there. He's more of a slasher. Going into camp, we'll rely on the freshmen. Darnell would be an emergency tailback right now.

On Auburn...

'It's a fantastic opener for us. It's going to be most difficult. They have a great team. The setting and us having a lot of new starters, it's going to be very difficult. We're fortunate to have a couple home games right after that. It's really important to get our team ready for the conference. There'll be questions answered. This year, it'll be the backup tailbacks and the quarterback spot has to get solidified. It couldn't get any harder than going to Auburn. It's a fantastic game for us. We'll find out where we are. If you can beat Auburn down there, you've come out flying. It won't tell us the whole story of the season, but it'll give us an indication of where we are coming out of camp. I'm pointing at that one because it's an important game to see where we are.

On Lofa Tatupu...

'He's got so much instinct and savvy for the game. He's very special in that way. He has to in order to do what he's done in such a short time here. He didn't get much time last fall. He has a real knack.'


(as of April 4, 2003)



Mike Williams

D. Hale OR

Sandy Fletcher

Steve Levario

John Zilka

(Steve Smith)



Nate Steinbacher

(Travis Draper)



Travis Watkins

(Drew Radovich)



Kurt Katnik

(Ryan Kalil)


Fred Matua

Kyle Williams

John Lanza

(Sam Baker)



Eric Torres#*

(John Drake)



Dominique Byrd

Gregg Guenther Jr.*

Nick Vanderboom

Owen Hanson*


Matt Leinart OR

Matt Cassel OR

Brandon Hance OR

Billy Hart


Brandon Hancock*

David Kirtman OR

Lee Webb

Mike Brittingham

Morgan Craig


Hershel Dennis

Andre Woodert

(Reggie Bush) OR

(Chauncey Washington) OR

(LenDale White)



Justin Wyatt

Chris McFoy OR

Greig Carlson OR

Jason Mitchell

(Whitney Lewis)


Projected 2003 starters in boldface

Players connected with 'OR' are considered equal

Fall 2003 enrollees listed alphabetically in (parentheses)

*Missed part of 2003 spring drills

Returning 2002 starters are listed in ALL CAPS

#Vandermade and Torres were co-starters in 2002




Van Brown

(Alex Morrow) OR

(Matt Spanos)



Travis Tofi

Spencer Torgan

(Ryan Watson)


Shaun Cody*

LaJuan Ramsey

(Sedrick Ellis) OR

(Fili Moala)



Frostee Rucker

Jay Bottom

(Chris Barrett) OR

(Lawrence Jackson)



Dallas Sartz

Matt Newhouse*

(Johnathan Turner)


Oscar Lua* OR

Lofa Tatupu

Daniel Urquhart

(Drean Rucker)



Bobby Otani

Collin Ashton

(Thomas Williams)


Kevin Arbet*

John Walker

Brandon Ting

Kirk Shepherd*

(Will Poole) OR

(Desmond Reed)


Jason Leach

Greg Farr OR

Chris Bocage

Forrest Mozart

(Terrell Thomas)


Darnell Bing

Mike Ross

Kyle Matthews

Matt Lemos



William Buchanon OR

Ronald Nunn*

Ryan Ting

Alex Gomez

(Eric Wright)




Tommy Huff

Zach Sherwood*



Tom Malone

Jon-Luke Del Fante






Matt Leinart

Matt Cassel


Justin Wyatt OR


Kevin Arbet* OR

Darnell Bing OR

(Reggie Bush) OR

(Whitney Lewis) OR

(Steve Smith)


Kevin Arbet* OR


Justin Wyatt OR

(Reggie Bush) OR

(Whitney Lewis) OR

(Steve Smith)


Projected 2003 starters in boldface

Players connected with 'OR' are considered equal

Fall 2003 enrollees listed alphabetically in (parentheses)

*Missed part of 2003 spring drills

Returning 2002 starters are listed in ALL CAPS

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