Head Coach Pete Carroll Discusses the Upcoming Game Against Washington State
Oct. 25, 2005
'As we have said repeatedly it is great to have a chance to come back and play at the Coliseum. We are really pumped up about it, it is homecoming and there will be a lot of energy around the campus this week. It is a special event in that regard, it just makes it that much more fun. It is really important for us to find our style back here at home and get that going, and take advantage of playing here at the Coliseum as we have in years past. I know our players are really looking forward to it. It has been a long haul to get to this point. We are fired up about it, hopefully we will get this week off to a good start. There is a lot of energy yesterday at practice. The first real practice today jump starts us to get ready for Washington State. Washington State has had a really hard run here this past month. They have played really good football, and they have tons of highlights and good things to show. But they have been unable to get their win in the Pac-10. That just screams about the Pac-10 offenses. This is a fine offense. They bring in a terrific running back, a terrific receiver. The style and the formula they have stayed with over the years has always been successful and wide open. They are doing it again with Alex (Bink) at quarterback it is a really fine looking offense. Their defense plays aggressively as they always have. They have run into some powerhouses. They have done some great things against Cal and UCLA and putting all those points on the board. It just talks about their offense. I know they will be hungry for this one and I don't think they will be disappointed they won't get to play the number one ranked team in the BCS. I am sure they are talking it up. In a statement about that, again the ratings and the polls, are fun for the fans, and fun for the media, and I think fun for our players as well at times. For the most part they are not significant until you finish. We have always talked that way, and we have been talking that way for years. Something changes yesterday doesn't affect the way we think or the way we talk about it. I don't understand how it works again, it is my lacking, it looks like in some polls where we are number one and there is one where we are not. It really isn't going to phase me or how the way we go about anything. We need to play a great football game this weekend and that means practice our tails off this week in preparation, so that what we are after.
If the No. 2 ranking motivates the players
'If for some reason it pumps you up that is just fine. IF you don't like it then do something about it. I don't know what we can do, try to play real well I guess. I wouldn't want to diminish somebody's psyche, if it helps them get jacked up. We have a general team feeling about it, and it doesn't really make a difference right now. '
If he was surprised to be ranked No. 2 in the BCS
'No, because just seeing how close everything could be, and was, some of our writers informed me, it could go either way. Texas has played really good football. I don't even know how that happened, I don't know how it works, or how it could change. I guess it has something to do with who you are playing, but maybe not where you are playing.'
On Josh Pinkard moving to corner
'I have been real excited about this. I have been real optimistic and hopeful that this will work out at corner. I have been thinking about it for a few weeks when we moved him. He has already moved around quite a bit, he has played both safety spots, he has played the nickel and the weak side nickel spot for us, already in games and has started at those positions. He has been moved around a lot. His aptitude for picking stuff up, is really high. He has been able t assimilate on how to play a position in two or three days time that he never played before. Two or three weeks ago when we were looking a little thin at the corner spot that Josh might be able to do that for us since he is so fast, and he is a real natural athlete, he plays the ball well, all the things you would like to see in a corner. We started working him into the one on one drills and kind of started the process a few weeks ago. Going into the last week it felt like it was time, and fortunately he got a whole week of work prior to John Walker spraining his ankle. So he got to play in the game and play 60 plays at corner and get comfortable out there, at least for his first time out. There is a lot to learn and a lot of experience has yet to occur. He had a pretty easy time at it last week. He gets tons of plays at it against our guys and he goes against the best guys every chance we can get him out there. He is feeling the pressure of really good receivers and speed. He has done nothing but good things, he has done nothing but succeeded at the stuff we have done. We are very hopeful that we will be able to come through and play well and he will be better in three or four weeks then he is now. His natural ability and his understanding of the game is what allows him to learn so fast. I have height hopes he will be able to survive this game and make it through. He will be checked out by some good players, Jason hill is a dynamic receiver you can see in college football right now, so we will find out.'
On adjusting to the mentality of changing from safety to corner
'We went out after that thought right off the bat with him. He is a very quick thinker and reaction player. Josh just flipped right into the mentality that you have to take care of the deep ball, and do things on the back end first. It made sense to him. He carried his practice preparation directly to the game; he looked exactly how he did in practice. It was really positive, highly unusual.'
'They are doing fine. We have weaved them into the play. Last week they both did well, when they had their chances. It has taken a long process, Kevin misses some time in there, but Cary has come on and they are really diligent about it. I think in time they are going to play really good football for us. Again there are things that will happen to them for the first time, in games. That is not a good thing, you want to bring guys along a little slower then that but we are not able to do that right now. Those guys are sitting right there in the 3- 4 spot and Buck (William Buchanon) will come back to practice and help us there as well. I hope they will gain confidence and keep progressing. One of the things you would like to do is establish a level of confidence with these guys before they get into it. We had to do the same thing with John Walker.'
If ratings such as the BCS should factor in location of the games
'I don't know what the factor is for schedule difficulty, but it factors in somewhere, I heard. I think that is the only realistic way of looking at it is where you are playing those games. If you are factoring in how that weighs in, if you don't then I think you might have missed one of the variables. Difficulty of schedule should be determined; I am not just saying that because we played on the road, I just think that makes sense. I wouldn't have the vaguest idea of how you would do that.'
'They have played very well, they have been very strong. They have made some big plays for the most part. I am always looking for them to be more active with their experience. They are physical; they are in the right place at the right time. Scott has been a terrific hitter and tackler. Darnell continues to flash and make big plays. He has missed a couple of chances and stuff. They have been very solid as you watch them you see really good solid plays from those guys. Our situation, I don't know how it got to this point, Justin Wyatt started all last year, and did really well, and he is playing good football for us. He has had a couple plays where guy get you, they try and they get you sometimes. We really had to break in one guy. Unfortunately we are rolling guys through that spot. That is all we have dealt with issues with our back up sub guys, and our nickel package that is all. I am not disappointed at all. We had a couple of penalties I didn't like in the Notre Dame game, and a couple big receivers taking balls away from guys. I think our guys are playing pretty solid, and I think I need to do a better job. This third down stuff hasn't been working out. I need to put them in better situations and help them out more. I need to stay up later I guess, and work a little more.'
On Jerome Harrison
'He is killing them. He has a great average, 65 yards a game. He has really torched everybody he has played against. He does well with long plays, consistency, the absolute trust in the guy and go to him in tough situations. He is the guy for them. They do a nice job of spreading things out so he gets a lot of room and he is really quick and you will see, hopefully at some other time in the season, how he will burst into the secondary and makes guys look bad down field. He has been everything they need. They have always had good rushing average with their running backs and their offense. It is because of the way they deploy their players, and they spread it out and use their running game very effectively. He has really been the recipient of that system and done a great job.'
On getting over the hump after playing five away games
'I made it clear to the guys after the fact. I didn't want to make a big deal going into it, we didn't even talk about it. I think it is a tremendous accomplishment. It has been the character building aspect of this season has taken place in Oregon, and Arizona State and then Notre Dame. The enormous match-ups and the issues we have fought through have really helped us. I have always felt that we need difficulties, we need the challenges, we need the problems to accelerate the process of coming together as team and how to play together. We have been challenged. We need to bank on that now. It does feel a little different when you have an opportunity to stay at home and play at home,. There is a different sense about you. It is a different nature about the week and all for that and the feel of it. It is really fun and exciting to play in front of 92,000 people at our own place. We get to go home after the game. That is fun stuff. We make it home at 11:00 or the middle of the night and it is the next day already. There is a lot to this that goes into making it special. I thought it was worth telling, we made it though that hard part of the season. Now the finish is always the great challenge. The wonderful thing about is that we have a chance to do it at home. We are lucky that is the way it is.'
'He has surprised us how quickly he embarrassed the season. He was a kid that was working his way through it through normal issues and concerns. It absolutely affected the way he played relative the way he is playing now. He is comfortable; he is taken to a whole different level. He is an extraordinary practice player; he works everyday, every route. He makes big plays everyday, which is the standard he lives by now, it is different then it was a year ago. This emergence into the competitor he is now is extraordinary. He is playing on a different level then we thought he would play relative to where we saw him. This is really one of the most natural catchers you can find now. I love this aspect that he brings. He has marvelous hand eye coordination, and this extraordinary confidence and also the creativity to come up with the plays he makes. You haven't seen him yet, you haven't seen what he can do. He has done stuff in practice that I haven't seen before. He does it gracefully and consistently, if you present him with the opportunity and he is going to blow you away with something. He does it to our team every week with something. The catch he made the other day was a routine grab for him. He does that all the time. He is going to do some extraordinary things before it is all said and done. It is just a matter of Matt putting the ball so far out there and so far away from him that he can use his skills. It is really exciting.'
On the players reaction to Jarrett's one handed catch
'They love it. They have seen him so much now, we watch all of that stuff as a team, all of the big plays as a team at the beginning of a the week. They are just waiting for a Jarrett highlight to show up again. He is has really done some incredible things.
If Jarrett's one handed catch or putting his foot down was more impressive
'It is his athletic poise and his intellect as an athlete is extraordinary. He caught that other ball too, the ball they waved off. It hit on his hands and he elevated his hands a couple of inches off the ground to make sure it was clear that he caught it. I can see why they would rule that it hit the ground. The guy right there saw it and didn't believe it and signaled touchdown. Someone from far away said oh that must have bounced. I don't think anything was wrong with the replay decision either because you couldn't believe that he could do that.'
'He has a larger catching range. He gets off of his feet a little quicker; he extends differently and can do more things with the ball then anybody we have had. He might be a little faster then Mike I don't know, we haven't gotten a good time on him yet. He runs fast enough to get down the field and get behind guys. It is a great comparison. He is also very good going side to side, getting out of his breaks. Mike was more physical with guys on him; he was 20 pounds heavier so he was a little more physical with guys hanging on him.'
If college football should follow the NFL and not allow horse collar tackles
'I think the NFL made an extraordinary decision on that. I didn't realize they had done that. I think that is an extraordinary thing for them to do, they are right, that is the right thing for them to get rid of, it is really dangerous. This happened a couple years ago when I was at Minnesota, I saw a guy break both legs on one of those kinds of plays. That was the first time I realized it. It seems to happen so much. In an unusual fashion guys get high ankle sprains when guys pull them and they go down in that fashion it has occurred at an alarming rate for all programs. We have to be very aware of it. I am sure we should be able to get that done this year. If the NFL did it then we should follow suite.'
On Reggie slowing up at the end of his run
'First thing he said was 'Coach I wasn't slowing up, I was tired.'. He personally came up and wanted to make sure I knew, because he knew I was looking for him.'
'Patrick is a little bit different then those two guys. He is so quick, he is faster then the other big guys have been, I believe. He gets in an out of his breaks better. He is a more violent plant guy, he can turn and run and change directions a little bit differently then those two guys. As we go through it, he is a terrific competitor too, he started out at a great tempo from the beginning. He is ahead of Dwyane in that regard, because a year ago Dwyane was struggling to get comfortable. Patrick has been comfortable since the summer time. We haven't had to go to him as much. When Mike came here he burst on the scene, when Dwayne came here he burst on the scene because they were the only guys with that style. But Patrick is going to have a big impact on the program. Last week was the most comfortable he has been, he did everything well. He blocked well he ran his routes on the money, splits were done well, he contributed on special teams. He is a big time guy too. We are really, really blessed with these guys.'
WSU Head Coach Bill Doba
On the last couple of games and how the team has reacted
'What is going wrong is we haven't made plays in the fourth quarter. Last week we were down by 18 at the half and scored 28 straight points in the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth and got a 10 point lead and made a coaching error, call it what you want. We tried a fake punt, it didn't work, obviously, it was a fourth and two deal around the 40. To punt it we would have gained 16 yards or so it probably would have gone in the end zone. It turns out the second play of the next series for them, our DB's (defensive backs) collided and their guy came free and ran 67 yards for a touchdown. You can second guess and hindsight is always 20/20, but we still had the 10 point lead and they had the ball at the 38 yard line and we still didn't hold them. We have made some plays but we haven't made plays in the clutch, when it counts. When we need a first down we haven't been able to do it in that fourth down situation. It is a little bit youth. We have a sophomore quarterback who I think is improving a little bit each week and is doing a nice job for us. We have some young receivers and defensively we have one senior on the defensive front playing right now and one senior in the secondary. It is kind of a growing process, had we won one or two of those games I think we would be way ahead. But our kids just amaze me. Their resilience is awesome, even at half time, we were down by 18, they were fired up in that locker room and they came out and play. We work out on Sunday, and they ran as hard Sunday as they ever have. Their disappointed, there is some frustration, but there isn't any finger pointing in that locker room. That is key. We practice today, I will know a lot more. We lost a kid named (Michael) Bumpus, from Southern Cal for this week. He is our punt returner and a good kid. We have also lost Will Derting, and he isn't going to be ready for this week either. Other then that we are starting to get healthy again.'
On nations No. 2 runner Jerome Harrison
'Jerome has great presence and patients. He isn't a 10- 200 meter like Reggie Bush or anything. He has patients and he sits in behind the offensive line and finds a little crease and then he has a real quick burst. In the UCLA game you could see he gets out in the open and glances over his shoulder and sees that nobody is behind him, and he slows down to almost a jog waiting for that wide receiver to come up and get a block or at least screen the corner so he can get more yardage. That is something that is very hard to teach and I don't know if you do teach it. Most kids they get into the open and man they just take off and get what they can. He is one of my favorites. He has given me a hard time, he is a great kid. He will come in and say coach that shirt is ok but that belt is back in the 60's. He always criticizes my dress and how I dress. We have a wonderful relationship, I love that kid.'
On No. 2 receiver Jason Hill
'Those two guys (Jason Hill and Alex Brink) are great passing and receiving combinations they spend a lot of time together. They stayed here all summer and through the fall. Alex has the ability to throw it up for him and Jason goes and gets it. His speed is deceiving, he doesn't look like he is going that fast but he does have good speed. He can get off a jam, he can take it inside or outside release and not get pushed out of bounds. He is a very talented young man, a special kid.'
On Derting being out affects the defense
'It hurts a lot. He is a tough kid. It hurts not only physically but mentally. He was our team captain and team leader. When Derting says huddle up I start toward the huddle, some kids have that natural leadership ability and he is one of them. That hurts. We replace him with a true freshman Greg Trent who is doing a nice job for us. He is a freshman, and he makes a few freshmen mistakes not that Will (Derting) wouldn't make a mistake or two, but those are just part of the growing pains that we are going through.'
Thoughts on USC and this week's game
When we met as a staff and somebody asked how are we going to attack USC? I said the best place to attack them would be in the tunnel before we get out on the field where we could get them confined. I know that computer (BCS) picked them number two, I am sure that didn't help us any but we as a staff took a poll and we still think they are number one in the nation. They are really a complete football team. I am impressed with Frostee Rucker, I think he is one of the best defensive ends in the country. The other two things that I like about their defense is Scott Ware and Darnell Bing those are two awesome safeties. Scott Ware will come down knock your head off, he is really, really physical. I think when you look at good defenses, and we have had a few here in the past, the hole opens up and looks like it is going to be a 20 yard gain and it ends up being three because it closes. Or I was looking at tape last night, and there is a screen pass against them and it looks like oh wow, they are going to go, and it ends up being a four yard gain. I think they have excellent team speed. They have a solid group of linebackers that run well and are very physical. There defense is physical and I think it has good quickness. They are not huge in the defensive line, the interior guys, like they were last year. But those two kids are quick they are moving them and they have a good defensive scheme. Offensively what can you say. They have (Dwayne) Jarrett, (Dominique) Byrd the tight end, (Steve) Smith, and then (Matt) Leinart and the whole offensive line is back from a year ago. The bad thing is they are all going to be back except for one guy next year, and then you have Reggie Bush. Some guys have quickness and some guys have speed, and Reggie has both. I think that is what separates him, in the open field I don't think I have ever seen anybody better, and I have been doing this along time. Then you complement him with LenDale White, I think his speed is underrated. I have watched him get out in the open and he can still run and he is 6-2 235, he will hurt you. The guy that probably doesn't get enough credit on their offense is David Kirtman. He is a fullback that goes through, he is supposed to block the middle linebacker, the guard chips off and has him blocked and he will turn out on the outside blocker. He is really an excellent lead blocker for them. They have the complete package offensively. The key for us is to keep our offense on the field and keep our defense off the field as much as possible.'
On Michael Bumpus
'He is doing great. The thing I am really impressed with Michael Bumpus is not only is he a good receiver that has good hands and runs good routs but he will block you. He is not a great big guy, but he will come in on a linebacker and he will stick his face right in there. That is how he got hurt. We were running a stretch play with a sweep, and he is in cracking on the inside safety an our center was coming around and fell on the back of his legs. Now he has a high ankle sprain. He will be back. Sometimes those high ankle sprains last two or three weeks, it is hard to tell. He is really doing a good job for us. He is a good punt returner, people have been punting the ball to him. Against Nevada he returned one for a touchdown and another one for 30 or 40 yards. He is good in the open field. He is not a speed burner or anything, but he has a great awareness of where people are and he has good vision to see the whole field.'