USC-California Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 5, 2004

USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll

'It's a terrific time to be here. It's a perfect time for the Pac-10 Conference to showcase a couple of teams that are playing well. We will continue to have these kinds of match ups, but this is awesome for us. Cal is playing great football right now. We have two top ten teams playing in the Coliseum with a giant crowd there. There is a really fun build up to this game. With what happened last year, it adds to it all. It brings more excitement. I think there is a chance for us to make this a Northern California vs. Southern California situation. This Cal team is well equipped. They have guys in all the right spots. They have big playmakers and an excellent quarterback that is playing lights-out football. The defense is playing solid. They have a tremendous amount of confidence. They will bring us a great day's of work. We are looking forward to the match up and hope that we can playing well and get what we want to get done.'

(on getting off to a better start in a game)

'We do not alter those kind of things. We try to play as well as we can at the start of a game and take what comes. You have to play the game out and the game takes a long time to figure out who is going to win most of the time. We have always liked to start strong and attempt to do that.'

(on Cal's ability to start strong in a game)

'They are really efficient. You can look at a lot of their games in the recent past when they get off to a really good start. They seem to have a marvelous ability to execute. The quarterback's numbers at the start are very high. They have a high completion percentage and the fact that they run the ball successfully. They are not a team that gets penalized a lot. They do not have a lot of setback or turn the ball over. They are not a lot of negative plays in their makeup so that allows them with good execution to really move forward in the early part of the game. I think it has to do with their confidence and coaching.'

(on Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers)

'He had a lot of success with their run last year when they put up a bunch of yards and points. He is the beneficiary of all of that background. The guys know him well and he has good receivers coming back. (Wide receiver) Chase Lyman has done a nice job jumping in and the running backs have picked up where they left off. They have stayed on course with a successful offense.'

(on developing young players during a bye week)

'We are trying to get guys to develop our depth during that time and get guys some extra turns. We did it again this time. I don't think that was the issue at all last year (before the Cal game) if that's something you want to point a finger at. In a bye, you have to do what you can do to get your injured guys some rest and work with your new players. We have to emphasize on working with our depth, but you also have to dip into your game plan. We will do exactly what we did in the last bye week that made us successful one for us.'

(on dealing with the pressure of being the number one team in the nation)

'I would think it helps more than it hurts, although people might think the other way around. We are accustomed to having that every week this season. This is the next one that is a huge game for us. We should be used to this kind of attention. I thought it was important for the Virginia Tech game. It was like a bowl game for us and we needed to get through that. Every game down the road is going to grow with intensity and focus if you are able to keep winning. We need to feel comfortable and make that be a normal place for us to be. I am hoping that this is a natural opportunity for us to do something special.'

(on status of tight end Dominique Byrd)

'Dominique is practicing full speed and will be ready to play on Saturday.'

(on slow starts)

'I can't say it's by design that we start slow. Everyone seems to be concerned about this, but I'm probably the least concerned about it. I know that you can't win a game in the first quarter. No matter how hard you try, it's not going to be over. You can't lose it either unless you give up. What you can do is hope that your plan works out well and the things you wanted to do are carried out. Most of the time from the first half to the second half, things that are adjusted are basically just going to the rest of what you had prepared. It's not like you throw away your game plan and start over. The part about not starting fast I think keeps people uncomfortable and I think that's why they keep asking the question.'

(on Cal's defense)

'They are a well-equipped defense. They are aggressive. Their style is where they are going to stop the run and have been successful at it. It also helps that they starts fast on offense. It makes it difficult to stay patient with the running game, something we didn't do well last year. It's a familiar style of defense, one that our conference plays a lot. They are doing it with a lot of confidence and they have some playmakers. The corners play very well. I thought (defensive end Ryan) Riddle had a great game last week in bringing pressure. I think they are organized on both sides.'

(on Cal being more similar to USC than any other opponent)

'I do think that. They are a team that does all of the things right. They play smart and don't get themselves in bad situations. They don't get sacked a lot. They have a lot of balance on the offensive side and it helps them on both sides of the ball. I think we are similar in that fashion.'

(on kicker Ryan Killeen)

'He's doing fine. He had a good week of preparation and adjusted some things technically. I know he is fired up about it.'

(on getting too hyped up for a game)

'That is always a problem. We deal with it regularly and I always try to maintain a balanced approach to it. The game itself is going to get everyone jacked up and I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about overemphasizing the area that will take you out of your game, out of your control. That can happen to you.'

(on improvement of younger players)

'A couple of guys have done that. (Linebacker) Keith Rivers continues to help himself with everything he is doing. He had a good game against Stanford. With Matt Grootegoed sitting out a few days last week, Keith got a ton of work with the first team and did a nice job. Eric Wright continues to push for playing time. He is a guy that looks to be a good-looking prospect. He did a lot of work, alternating with the first group. He continues to make a move. On the other side of the ball, our offensive linemen are getting work. Jeff Byers had a lot of work as we see if we can bring him along. Drew Radovich got a lot of work at right guard so guys are trying to take advantage. Fred Davis had a lot of work at tight end while we rested Alex Holmes. Guys are getting their turns and we feel more confident about the kids. All of those guys can go in the game and play for us on a regular basis which helps us right now.'

(on progress of USC's receiving corps)

'I'm feeling good about them. Steve Smith has really emerged and is rock solid in his spot. That gives us the assurance that we can count on him to make the plays. Dwayne Jarrett has made some big plays for us. He is one of our young guys who really got a lot of work in the past few weeks. Chris McFoy has been a good contributor as well. If we can get those two guys going, we can really balance our offense.'

(on linebacker Keith Rivers)

'He is really fast and tough. He has an unusual body in that he can strike guys in a small space and unload on them. He is a great worker and brings it every day. He is getting more confident about his progress. He's going to be a steady player for a long time.'

(on working with freshmen out-of-state players)

'Every guy is different, depending on his upbringing and background. We try in a number of ways to make our guys feel comfortable and to help them along with the process. It's so new to these guys with a lot of transition. If you can imagine a guy turning 18 years old by the third or fourth game and is out there know that is a lot to ask them to be comfortable and have the whole world under control. The players on the team, people that support our program, people in academics...these are the people that can counsel them along the way. You just have to take each one of them independently and treat each guy separately. Particularly if they are playing, there is a spotlight on them. It adds so much. You would think it makes it easier, but in essence it makes it harder. I think it's remarkable for the guys that can do it. I don't have any problem with any guys who are uncertain and trying to figure it out. There is so much happening in such a short time that it is understandable.'

California Head Football Coach Jeff Tedford

'I was pleased with the Oregon State game. I was a little concerned about the mental preparation as far as the emotions when you haven't played for three weeks. I felt like we wouldn't be rusty physically and that we would be well rested. I was pleased as we went through the week that our leadership surfaced and were prepared going in emotionally.'

(on tailback J.J. Arrington and quarterback Aaron Rodgers)

'Both are playing very well. J.J. has had some nice games. Our offensive line has made some holes for him. Aaron has been efficient. We really haven't thrown the ball that much when we have thrown it. He has done a great job of leading the team. He brings a lot more to the table than just throwing the ball or handing it off. His leadership and poise do a lot for this team as well.'

(on wide receiver Chase Lyman)

'He is a guy who really hasn't been healthy his whole career. Last year, he got healthy near the end of the year and had a nice bowl game. He put in a lot of time and effort over the summer. He has become one of our most productive guys and one of our best leaders. There is no question that he has the ability. He's a big receiver who can run and has great hands. He has been pretty productive so far.'

(on team's defense)

'They are playing well. Coach (Bob) Gregory has done a nice job of putting guys in position to make plays. They play very hard. They run and have tackled well so far. I'm not sure that we have been tested yet. I know it's going to be a different story this week when you play USC. It's a whole different ball game playing against that type of team.'

(on last year's game)

'It was a great game. It was great for the fans and hard fought. We are fortunate to come out on the victorious end of it.'

(on USC)

'There is a reason why they are number one in the country. Last year, when I was asked at the end of the year if they should have been national champions, I said absolutely. That's how much respect I have for them. They are very well coached in all phases of the game. There is not a hole anywhere with the talent they have. Great players, great coaches and great schemes...they have it all going on there. That is why they are number one and they deserve to be there.'

(on matching wits with a defensive coordinator like USC's Pete Carroll)

'There is so much more preparation that's involved with playing against USC because USC, by far, is the most diverse defense that we face. Pete has done such a great job there with implementing so many different schemes, coming from different areas. It really makes it difficult to prepare for them. There is no question that he does a great job. I've told people up here that their defense is capable of shutting you down. When they have it rolling, they can stop you from making first downs. That's how good they are. I have the utmost respect for their players and Pete with what he does with those guys.'

(on players looking at last year's game)

'We don't get caught up in that to tell you the truth. It's going to be a game that you play the number one team in the country and our guys know to be successful that we are going to have to come in and play mistake-free football. We have to be prepared to compete. They know what they are up against and I'm not sure that payback has a lot to do with it. I'm sure USC players are motivated as they are in any game. I think a lot that going into the game is hype. After the game starts, it just gets down to playing football.'

(on when they started to prepare for USC)

'We started on Sunday. We had Oregon State to play. We spent most of our off time practicing against one another so we could stay sharp physically, the physical and speed aspects so that we could go to one-on-ones to prepare for Oregon State.'

(on qualities of Aaron Rodgers)

'Besides his physical skills, he is very intelligent. He is a great leader and a perfectionist. He takes things seriously and wants everything to be right. He matured a little bit last year. He had not really gone through any adversity, so he had to learn how to deal with that. He has all the tools. He is gifted with his mechanics and ability to throw the ball and move.'

(on jumping out to an early lead in the first half the past two years against USC)

'It's just very fortunate to make some plays. It wasn't anything that we came in any differently. We made some plays early in the games and had good field position from time to time. We came up with some plays.'

(on quick turnaround of the program)

'I think the number one thing was hiring a quality pass. The administration gave us the opportunity to do that and to give us some of the things that we needed here to be successful. I think creating that positive environment was important so the players could get their confidence and self-esteem back. A lot of them aren't the most highly-recruited kids in the country, but they are high quality guys who work very hard.'

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