Pete Carroll Media Luncheon Quotes

Oct. 18, 2005

Pete Carroll

Opening Statement

'We arrived back safe and sound from our trip. We had a great weekend in South Bend that we shared with a lot of Trojan fans, former players and coaches, and I know a lot of people took pride in. We had a really fun weekend, we are really proud that we got out of there alive, in a game I don't think we played very well. We found a way to win and made it pretty exciting for all those people that like college football and like the Trojans and like Notre Dame, we are pleased that, that one is behind us now. We have a really important opportunity coming up. We have been on the road for so long, this is the last road game in this early part of the schedule where we have been traveling so much. As we go to Washington to play the Huskies, we want to make sure we end this right, in this kind of segment of the schedule. We know that after this we come home for four of the next five weeks, it will be nice to be back in this setting. We want to do this right, start the second half of the season off on a great note. We want to put together a game where we can show that we are getting better. We have a lot of areas to improve on. It is clear that we are not playing at our best, in a number of facets. We have all set our sights on improving in a lot of areas in small ways and that will make us a better football team. I am fired up to say that here we are, we have won six games, but we have a lot of improvement ahead of us. We have done a great job of controlling the weather once again. We had rain for Monday and rain for Tuesday so we are getting prepared for what ever could happen up in Seattle. We are going to try to make the most of it and go out and get rained on today.'

On the review of the Notre Dame tapes

'It was kind of painful. We didn't play very well, and we kind of struggled in all facets. We kept ourselves in the game and at the end of the game, the guys we have been leaning on all season long for the past couple of years really came through to make big plays that gave us the chance to win. I am disappointed that we didn't control the ball better, that we didn't get off the field on the third down, and the kicking game we gave up a huge play. The game brings us much more down to earth then you might think. Everyone thinks we are full of ourselves for that win. That is not what it feels like. The truth of it is, we need to play better. That was quite clear as we went through our meetings yesterday, our players responded really well as we head into this next week. We had a great day yesterday. Best Monday we have had. The most energetic the most focused that we have had. I think everybody in the program realizes that we were fortunate to get the win. It is important that we keep stepping ahead and get better. If anything that maybe the revelation, that we have a lot of improving that we need to undertake to get to where we want to go.'

On the thought of a field goal during the last drive

'No, we didn't even have that chance. We were so far away for a while there, that we couldn't kick it that far. Then when we jumped inside the 20 yard line, that is when we had a chance to win the game. We had started the drive with the thought; there is no way we want to play for overtime. That was because they were doing so well. It wasn't because of us, it was because they had done so well offensively I didn't want to give them another chance. Honestly had we been faced with a situation down there where we didn't feel like we could strike and get in the end zone then we would have settled for a field goal. That wasn't the thought at all. Matt was trying to get the ball in the end zone. I was paying attention to Matt so we didn't confuse him at all. I was just trying to give up the thought that we might be doing that (spike the ball) '

Thoughts during the last touchdown

' I was just cheering like everybody else at that point. It was clear that this was going to be the last shot we had at it. I would never have gone to if he didn't make it. My mind would have been, hey Matt got in. The fact that he spun around and got into the end zone, and it was clear, was good because we didn't have to go to replay that wasn't existing. I don't think I had a thought between the initial surge and then the finish. To tell you the truth I was just hoping it was going to work out.'

Thoughts when it was fourth and nine on the 26 yard line

'That is a real clear moment. We called time out because if you don't make the first down there, then what good is it to have saved a timeout. So we had a chance to think about it on third down and on fourth down. We had a chance to talk to Matt. Lane (Kiffin) said to Matt, call it, call the play. We talked about the play to call. We called it. He (Kiffin) talked to Sark (Steve Sarkisan) he reminded Matt about the potential check that is involved there, and Sark said it to Matt, and Matt took it and went out on the field. Sark and I are standing there and we were like, whoah, here he goes. He is getting under center, and we could see that the check was there. There was still a hesitation, and then he went to it. You don't know if everybody is going to hear, or if everybody is going to get it. We were very fortunate that the protection was changed and the route was changed. It was an easy moment to be clear on.'

On the thought that if the play (fourth and nine on the 26 yard line) had not worked out, the criticism he would have received.

' That is ok. I don't care about that at all. It wasn't even a thought. When I was at Minnesota, Bud Grant had a clear thought that if you give your team a chance to win on the last play of the game that is all you can do as a coach. I have always remembered that he said that. He demonstrated that one time when we were playing the Chargers we were kicking a field goal with no time left on the clock. We were sitting in the box, we were getting lined up to kick the field goal and I was sitting with Monte Kiffin an I said 'Kiff look'. Bud was walking off the field, and by the time he got into the end zone and was getting to the ramp, as the ball was snapped. The ball was snapped, kick, he was getting up the ramp. The kick was good, he never looked back and walked off the field. I will never forget that. He did just what he said. He gave them a chance to win the game, left and didn't even look over his shoulder to see what happened. There has been a number of times over the years we have been in a situations with last plays. It happened at New England, it happened at the Jets. One time on defense, one time on offense with no time on the clock. To me that is about a cool a moment you can get in this game. Once chance to win it, lose it, everything comes down to one shot. We had the opportunity. It was worth all the good stuff, to take on whatever else. We would have kicked a field goal in this game if we had to, we would do it in the next game too. If you don't have a legitimate chance to get in. If it is fourth and seven what are the odds of making seven yards on that play. We had to make three inches. The official came down and told me you have three inches. I was pretty confident we had a shot at that one. I wasn't going to kick a field goal from there.'

If he would consider slowing the offense down by running the ball more to keep the defense off the field more

' We would like to hang on to the ball as long as we can until we score. In the first half we scored in four plays. We are not going to slow it down. We don't know how to do that. We are going to try to do the best we can with every play. The sooner we get down there, the better. As long as we are scoring that makes them have to score. I am not ready to go into that mode. I think our offense has too much power, and dynamics to it that we would want to slow things down. When I was at San Francisco, George Seifert was the first time I was ever in a program, where if you trusted and believed and give them every chance you can give them. I had never been that kind of program before. Two-minute situations, it didn't matter, we were going for it. Anytime we had a chance, we were going for it because you had guys that you trusted, and you believed in and the system and history had proven to you that that was the right way to go. That was the first time I had ever experienced that, and that is how I feel I am now. I feel like we should go with our offense, believe in our guys, believe in Matt and Reggie. That doesn't mean I wouldn't still go into my mentality that late in the half if we have 20 seconds left and we are on the 20-yard line, I am going to be realistic about what those chances are. I have been influenced by the coaches that we have and the players that we have to believe that we are going to be able to knock the ball down there if we give them enough chances. That goes along with the belief that they were going to be able to win that game.'

On the effect of the national pressure the players have had all season

'I don't think it is that way. I don't think it is such a big game to them and it forces us to feel like we are burdened by that. I think we have to deal with the issues of being on top, as we have had to in other years, and all of the background noise is about how good you are. We have to deal with that and stay on the same pace, with the same intensity with the task that is at hand everyday. That is the challenge. We expect the game to be huge and exciting that is how we hope they will be. That is not the issue. The issue is more handling the fact that we are winning these games, and being realistic about playing at a level that will allow us to keep doing that. That is what I am concerned about doing at the halfway point right now. We need to play better. We need to perform better. We need to strictly adhere to the things we expect our guys to do. Our standards need to be upheld at this time. That is the pressure is more then another pressure that our guys can feel.'

On Reggie Bush pushing Matt Leinart across the line for the last touchdown

'When Matt hit and spun out, Reggie was hitting the line of scrimmage so he gave him a little shot. That is not something we had taught I think that is something that Reggie instinctively was competing and knocked into him. There is no question that he helped a little bit. I don't think Matt would have been held up anyway. I heard Charlie (Weis) say something that it was illegal but he would do it too.'

On why the defense showing was disappointing

'I would never be disappointed because of injuries, that is just what happens. But I am disappointed that we are not playing closer to what I think our potential is. I think we can play better, we can play cleaner, we don't have to continue to give up 67 yards in penalties. Our kicking game is not hitting it. Reggie has not been a factor returning the football. That is not what our expectations are set at. We know Reggie is a big factor, we need to get him some more space. He is trying. As a team we have to do a better job at getting things set up. Kickoff returns have been consistent, but punt returns have been miserable. We had some real opportunities, the ball was not hanging very well the other day, and we had some real opportunities to bring it back and didn't get it done. I think we are just being realistic. You could say that everything is just rosy but it doesn't feel like that. I was thrilled to see they responded like crazy yesterday, but that was yesterday. That doesn't mean anything today. We have to do something today. Hopefully we will get out and have a good Tuesday and just keep putting these days together. It doesn't matter who we are playing or where we are playing. Washington is ready, they want to jump out of their situation, and they are ready to have a great ball game. It is about us performing at the level we are capable at performing at. If we get beat doing that, then we get beat doing that. We have to get to that, right now we are not doing that. Earlier in the year I thought we were closer, we were performing at a really high level. The opponents, the level of play, the three really hot opponents in a row, maybe it is affecting us, I don't think that it is. I think we have to deal with the reality that we have to play really well every time we go out. The thing that is showing up is we are playing really hard. Our intensity is there. We are playing as hard as we have ever played, our pursuit is as good as it has ever been. Our numbers are the best they have ever been. But we need to do things better. It is within our power to do that.'

On playing three difficult teams in four weeks

' IT is not to take anything away from them. I think I have credited those teams at every chance I get because they played well. They have done well and they have schemed well. We have prided ourselves in being a really difficult team to beat because we don't do things that beat us. Right now we have turned the ball over a couple more times then we have in the past couple of years our penalty rating is higher, and our kicking game isn't quite as sharp. Those issues are things we can control. We want to be hard to beat again. That is a big mentality for us, but right now it is not showing up as clear as it has in years past.'

If Charlie Weis had any offensive surprises.

'They really took advantage of the two weeks. He had some really good ideas on some things they tried to do in their throwing game. It was clear what his plan was, which means he had a real clear thought philosophy about what he wanted to do against us. They averaged 2.9 yards rushing against us, but what they were able to do in their approach was do it 50 times. They could convert, they were 10 out of 19 on third downs. If somebody does that to us again, it is going to be hard. You don't have to be very productive to rush for 2.9; a rush that isn't very hard to do. But if you can live with that, and create your first down by your third down execution it doesn't matter who you are playing. So we counter that, I don't know we can play the run a whole lot better then that. The 2.9 is where we have been for the last two years. That is up to speed, but our third down efficiency is not. It shows, that is the difference right there. They did a great job, and it was a great battle.'

On Desmond Reed

'I can't emphasize how much we are going to miss this guy. This kid is a great guy on our football team; he has been a big factor, great spirit on the team. Enormously productive guy, where ever he is, the tackle inside the 20 on the opening kick off, or he gets the kick off in his hands and goes 40 yards. Everything he does, he does well. Unfortunately he got into such an awkward position, and a unusual spot, trying to chase the funny bounce on the ball, he just really hurt himself. We are going to miss the heck out of him. He does so many unique things, being Reggie's back up, in all of the things we do with Reggie. That has been a strength of ours. Allowing us to prepare and practice our team with out having to wear-out Reggie to do that. It is like loosing two or three guys. He was recognized as a special teams player of the year last year because he was such a productive kid. We were already hurting, so this is going to be a big factor.'

On how tight ends don't have many receptions

'It hasn't been necessary in the games yet for that to happen. I think Dominique (Byrd) had four balls. He is doing a nice job, he is blocking well, it just hasn't been a necessary part of the game. It is going to happen. We continue to make it a viable part of our game and a part that we are counting on. It will popup here whenever it is necessary. We have a lot in our game plan that goes in that direction. I don't feel bad about it at all; I know he is probably a little bit frustrated by it. It will take its time; he will catch a lot of balls by the time the season is over.

On Matt not throwing as many touchdown passes

'We have missed some opportunities at it. We didn't throw the ball very well into the wind, the ball came up short a couple of times and with the wind we over threw a couple of times. Dwayne (Jarrett) missed one, and we missed Steve (Smith) another time. Just haven't been as sharp, catching and going and scoring. I think they are doing a nice job compared to earlier in the season. We need to hit it, and convert. We haven't been as sharp at that.

On the mental exhaustion Matt has experienced

'I think it is really an issue for him. He has been living with it for all this time. I think he is handling it as well as you can handle it, but there is a tremendous burden for him and he is just a young pup trying to make it. He is just trying to finish up school, do it in the right fashion and have fun doing it and there is a lot for him to deal with. I admire the crap out of him that he deals with all that he does; he is so gracious and so cordial. We are trying to help him and shut down as much as we can just to let him have fun playing and not have to carry all of that. I think it is only normal that he would have to shoulder all of this. I think he is doing it well. It is challenging. We are trying to pioneer our way though this. We have been through the Heisman build up thing with Carson (Palmer) and with Matt and going to the bowl games and all of that kind of hype. But we have never faced a whole season with all of that following. He was recognized as the best player in America last year and he has to live with that all through out this season. I don't think it bothered Carson in Cincinnati at all. That is a different deal. This is the first time we are trying to deal with it and find our way through we are trying to help him on every turn. We would appreciate all the help you guys could give him for those of you that can. Understand he is doing the best he can out there and we are trying to manage it as best of possible.'

On three of the last four games has had an intense national focus

'I don't care what ever you got, bring it on. It is really important that we handle this. It is a statement about our confidence to handle the next one and the next one and the next one. We learn as we go, and we try to be real cognizant. We talked yesterday about how this is a classic situation where all of the media is going to ask you all of the questions about letting down the next week. We are going to try to show you that we can go the other way and we can perform better then you can imagine us to perform. And they jumped out at practice yesterday. Now we are on our way.'

Why LenDale White was not as much of a factor this game'We didn't have enough plays to get the ball spread around. 29 plays in the first half. He came out and had six carries in the third quarter to try to get him going. We were aware of it. We weren't spacing as well on the line of scrimmage. We weren't making as much room. All of the yards were harder to come by. In another game, or if the wind blows the other way he would have come up with 120 yards in that game. Really not concerned about it, my goal is to just go with what is working and assess that well. We intended to in the third quarter, it just didn't happen.'

On Reggie Bush

'This was a game when Reggie was really putting it out there. He was drained by the efforts that he had to put out. With the couple of kicks and the punts that he is running all over the field and he looses about ten yards, those are killers in terms of energy output. By the end of the game he was sapped. I think he is doing a great job. He is consistent with is effort, and his intensity in the game. He has to deal with the frustrations because his expectations are so high that he is going to bust every play and make something happen. Up in Oregon and in Arizona State he got frustrated when things weren't shaking. We have been talking about it and I don't want him spending any energy in that area it doesn't do us any good at all. The other day he was very calm and focused on staying in the moment and staying with his opportunities and performing at an extraordinary level. The run that he runs the first touchdown, that is a phenomenal run. His abilities to get out and leap that guy in a flash and to be so successful. That was just one of the extraordinary things that he did.

Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham

On the season so far

'I think that it is very clear to anyone that has looked at our record so far that our season has not gone as a coach would have wanted or a coach would have planned it. I thought we would improve in terms of our won-losses which would be reflective in our execution and our overall play. We have been inconsistent in our performances. We have had some quarters that have been excellent football, and we have had some quarters that have been less than that. What we are really seeking to do is see if we can get the last half of our season to improve, and to continue to improve and find a way to get it done. We need to get in the winners category by playing complete ball games and not just partial games.'

On quarterback Isaiah Stanback

'Right now I have been very pleased with what Isaiah has done. But Isaiah and I have both set the same standard that our standard for success is winning and victories. That is what we expect our quarterback to lead us to. His play has been solid. He has vastly improved to what he was a year ago, his confidence level is much higher, his knowledge is much higher and he is doing things at a better rate. But still our evaluation, his evaluation is that winning is what it is all about.'

On the defense

'Our defense has really been one of our concern areas for us, the area we did have some returning players coming back in. We felt if we could get some strength there that they might be able to keep us in some ball games. That is one of the areas that we struggle with. - With the wide-open attacks that we have seen in our conference, the obvious skill level in running and passing the ball. It has been an area we feel we have to improve for the second half of the year if we are going to have some success.'

On having played USC for the past 10 years out of the Pac-10 conference

'The edge that we need is to get talent that can match up with theirs right now. Of course I give Pete all the credit, he has done a wonderful job in terms of the schematics of their system, but at the same time they have a wonderful blend of coaching and of players. We have to get our program in that same direction. In my 10 years, playing them has been successful sometimes, but not as successful as I would like it to be.'

Thoughts on this weeks game

'This week's game is a real challenge because I think the SC team is playing probably at its finest football that it has played at any point. Listening to Pete Carroll the other day, it might not be doing all of the things as well as it would like to do, but I think that would be the speech of any coach to his team. We have got to get better, we have got to improve, we have got to be more efficient, we have to become more dominant. But they are playing very, very well.'

On the USC- Notre Dame game

'Of course in reviewing the films to prepare for our game this week, I had a chance to see almost all of it, but you don't really get to see a lot of it in the context that it happens in the ball game. Obviously reading the reports on it and seeing the video the coaches have, it was an exciting game and it sounds like both teams just played one hell of a game and it came down to the stretch where just a simple bounce of the ball can determine the fate and it worked in USC's behalf this time. '

On the experience of coming off games like the USC- Notre Dame game

'I think in his (Pete Carroll) case it is a little bit different because he has a more mature football team. I really don't see that being a problem with them, and his coaching staff is talking about that and is adjusting to that right now. You have to confess that was one heck of an exciting game, and both teams did it on the line.'

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