Pete Carroll discusses the Trojans game against Stanford
Nov. 1, 2005
'Coming off of homecoming, being back at the Coliseum it was worth waiting for in a sense. We had a real nice week in preparation; we put together a real nice solid football game. It was important to me because I wanted to get off to a good start because four of the last five games are at home, and get the feeling again, and that happened. We had a real nice outing and we are really looking forward to getting in there. We had the day game last week, and we play at night this week, which is a different experience at the Coliseum, but we are looking forward to it, it is fun. We see Stanford coming off a really good looking couple of weeks of playing football. They played great against Arizona State, and they played great against UCLA, save the last eight minutes of the game. They really looked strong in both phases. Their offense and defense and kicking game are solid, they are not turning the ball over and they are taking the football away from people. They are a disciplined football team like I would expect from Walt. They don't beat themselves, so that makes them hard to beat right off the bat. This is going to be a really good match-up and a good challenge for us and I am thrilled we get to play them here. This is the first time we get to coach against each other; I am looking forward to it. He and I are longtime friends, and we have battled over the years. We will battle this time, but it will be in a little bit different way, it is already good to be working at it and trying to figure him out. I know he is trying to do the same. It is a good little friendly match-up for us, but a huge game for us and a huge opportunity at the Coliseum once again. '
On what happened to Stanford at the end of the UCLA game
'They stopped them the whole game. They really controlled the whole football game throughout and within just a dozen plays or so, the game just completely flip-flopped. I am sure if you look at it there were different ways they could have won the game by making first downs, or they could have won the game by stopping them, they just needed one more stop. They had opportunities; I know that is what is so frustrating to them. Being in a young program you are trying to find that sense of completion, in these kinds of situations, and they didn't get that out of this game. There were a number of ways they could have gotten it done and it just didn't happen. On the other side of it UCLA is really executing in the fourth quarter and they did a great job in both phases of offense and defense to get it, done, to get the ball right back, to make the plays that they had to make. The quarterback did a fantastic job of setting it up, so they went against a team that has a strong belief. They start to develop a way to finish off the games and they did it again. I think it was two sided, a number of things could have happened to change that game and for Stanford it didn't.'
On preparing for a team coming off a loss like Stanford's to UCLA
'There is different way of looking at it. Guys are always on opposite sides, you can't predict it, so you don't even deal with what it is going to mean you just count on them being at their best always. I think the normal thought is that it is going to rile them up and the coaches are going to be more focused more attentive, and the players are not going to want it to happen again. That is the thought more so then, they are down and they are not going to be able to respond. I don't think that is the case at all, Walt has been coaching too long, to let his team not respond. In my opinion it doesn't matter and there is nothing you can gain out of that. The good thing is we can see them in tough games and we can look at the decisions they have to make and how they handle things, it does help us in that regard.'
On what Pete remembers about the Stanford team that was the last team to beat USC at home
'The little receiver killed us. They had a really good team that year, they had 11 seniors starting on defense, really experienced tough group. A bunch of guys went into the NFL. After playing really poor in the first half we came roaring back and had a chance to win the game, I think we blocked a field goal for a touchdown, I think we were driving down the field and Carson fumbled the ball on the drive that could have tied the game to get us back in it. That was a really good Stanford team, a very experienced football team, good quarterback leadership, very tough team.'
On Josh Pinkard in the backfield
'He played really well and was very active. He gave us some real physical type of play you don't generally see from the corners. Run support stuff, and his tackling in general, he is a factor when the ball comes his way, both run and pass. Real excited he made it through the game and played well and maintained his confidence. He is just going to continue to get better. Everyday he is out there something else happens, and it happens for the first time and the experiences he is starting to log away, he is really starting to benefit from. I have very high hopes; I think he is going to be a very good football player for us at that spot.'
What the most important thing learned from Walt Harris
'Work ethic. Walt is a fantastic worker. All of his friends and family used to call him captain sweat or something. He was always a really high achiever, he used to get on my butt when I was first coaching about not working hard enough, and not understanding how to study film. Walt doesn't forget stuff like that, so he still reminds me of things like that. He was a really good fundamentalist coach. He really knew his stuff. He worked really hard to understand how things worked and dug deep about the little aspects of techniques and schemes and things like that. About my fifth or sixth year of coaching it started to make sense to me what he was talking about, to understand how to go about solving problems and issues and stuff. I think he has always been a guy, regardless of what situation he was in or whether he was coaching on defense or offense or head coach, or coordinator, he always just rolled his sleeves up and went to work on it and figured it out and came to a real good spot where he could operate at a confidence and know what he was talking about and be very convincing about his opinion. He is really a really good football coach. Always has been.'
What player he could see as a head coach someday
'One of the immediate guys is Ken Norton. I think he has all the special stuff that somebody could have to be a leader and to be in charge. He has some experience he has to gain coaching, but he is a guy that has tremendous charisma, strength and character and principal and background, and statue and you name it. I think he is really loaded. That goes for a couple of years at the 49ers.'
On UCLA also being undefeated
'I think it is pretty exciting, there is not a lot we can do, right now we are crossing over the teams that they have played so we see them on film. But they are doing a wonderful job. I know their fans and their followers have just got to be loving it. The drama that has followed their games has made it even more exciting for them. It is great that things are going well for them. We have a long way to go until the end. It would be awesome to go a couple of more games and have a chance to be in a position like that.'
On last week being a complete week
'It was a really good game, it was a lot like the Arkansas game I think. I was really pleased with our pass defense in this game, against really good passing, they are traditionally, historically a good passing team and they couldn't get anything going. I was really happy about that. I think they may have adjusted a little bit, they tried to run the ball a little bit more than they normally do. The results were excellent for us. The third down numbers, the total yardage and completion percentage. Surprisingly we didn't get to the quarterback as much as we like to. You would think it would take that kind of a factor to cause those kinds of numbers, but I don't think there has been too many times that they have been held under a 100 yards throwing. I don't know I don't keep record. So that was a pretty good output, I thought we kicked the ball pretty well, Troy (Van Blarcom) bombed the ball... he had five out of seven kicks in the end-zone which was great. Mario came through with all his kicks. We have a lot of things we are real pleased about, but we still have a lot of work to do. It is exciting to be in this position and have areas that can really improve and we can call on. Defensively we are not there yet. We have a chance to get better and we play a lot of young guys early in the game. It is fun to be in this situation and know that we can still get better.'
If there is an emotional element to coaching against Harris
'I always playing against guys that I know real well. There is something more to it. It is about respect. I have great respect for Walt and all the stuff he has done. For years I have been calling him to ask him what's up, how to do this and how to do that. He has helped me a number of times. To have a chance to go ahead and battle against him, it is different now, when you look at it this is his whole football team. Usually it is just he and I sweating in the gym, just the two of us. Which is probably a little more fun then the game. This is a little different. We lay it all out philosophically and tactically, this is an opportunity and our histories come though and what we believe. To me it is fun to have an opportunity to match it up. As far as being a distraction or throwing things out of whack, this is just fun, I am looking forward to it.'
On the offensive line
'Clearly it is the best line we have had in the five years of being here. They are playing with confidence; they are a smart group and technically sound. They can take advantage of the scheme and they can adjust and adapt. They have really been able to fly ahead with the new coach, it has worked out great. We really call on them. They are a group in themselves that really leads this football team, just in their style and the performance level they were able to bring. It is remarkable numbers that we have been able to put up at this point. When you are running the guys for 300 yards and taking care of the quarterback and pass protection wise, that is a lot of credit goes to those guys. There are characters in the group Duce (Taitusi Lutui) and Freddie (Fred Matua) and Ryan , it is a fun group of guys to have on your football team with a lot of pride, and great work ethic about those guys. We are really fortunate. The amazing thing is that only one of those guys is a senior. That is pretty incredible that we have those guys with us.
Stanford Head Coach Walt Harris
On the season so far, starting out with a so-so start and a loss to UC Davis
'I think we just started to practice better and I think our players have bought into what we are trying to accomplish, what we are trying to do as coaches and our system. I think we got a huge wake-up call with the way we played against UC Davis.'
On how the team reacted to the UCLA game
'We were devastated and in shock, but we had no one to blame but ourselves. Both sides of the ball failed to get it done, whether it was the offense making first downs and scoring or the defense stopping. It was a real sad turn of events considering how well we played for 51 minutes. But that is football.'
On quarterback Trent Edwards
'He is a real good football player; he has talent. We started to give him protection, which has helped his productivity. He has been a real good decision maker, so far. I think we are starting to become more experienced in what we do, so that I think our receivers, tight ends and backs are all starting to understand what we are trying to accomplish, and he is getting the ball to those guys.'
On the status of Mark Bradford and Anthony Kimble
'Honestly, this isn't the NFL so we don't have to talk about injuries, so I would rather not talk about injuries.'
On how the Stanford defense has played lately
'Our defense has played real well, because Arizona State played tremendously well. It was 45-7 at one time during our game. When we get into the two-minute drill in essence, we have not got it done. The same thing happened to us last week. We had a couple of injuries that have hurt us. We have lost a couple of guys that have hurt our depth. I think that we get worn down in the fourth quarter and are unable to mount a pass rush, and then I think we get a little frustrated and we try to do too much. We have been giving up the big play.'
Thoughts on this week's game, and the USC team
'I think we are playing a great football team that is coached tremendously with a great head coach. It is great to see him (Pete Carroll) finally getting his credit of being a great coach, I have always thought that he was and has been all along. Sometimes the situation didn't allow it, and in this one he has obviously made it happen. They are very, very loaded with great football players with talent and depth. We recruited a couple of them when I was at Pittsburg and the only gratifying thing about it is I know we were recruiting the right guys, even though we didn't get them. Mr. Jarrett the wide receiver was one of them, we spent time with Dominique Byrd, and LenDale White we spent quite a bit of time with. So those were all pretty good football players. So they are loaded. I think the quarterback (Matt Leinart) is playing as good as any college quarterback that I have seen. He runs the game. They have a very involved offense; they have motion, and shift, multiple formations, they do everything and he handles it tremendously.'
On Pete Carroll as a player and a coach
'I recruited him, too, so not only did I get a chance to coach him, I got a chance to meet his mom and dad and his brother They were great people. We have been real close for a long period of time. As a player he was a gem to coach. He wanted to know how to make the play, he would take coaching tremendously, and he always had a bright attitude. He was a heavy hitter, too. He would always try to knock you out. He had great ball skills; he admitted to me that Dwayne Jarrett has better hands than him, which was a big deal by him, because he thinks he has the best hands in America, Pete does. Dwayne moved ahead of him, and of course he moved him ahead of Larry Fitzgerald, who he coached at Pittsburg too. As a player he is real good, and as a coach he has had a great run in the NFL as an assistant coach and a couple shots at head coach. One he didn't get any kind of opportunity and the second one he wasn't given a fair chance at that one either. Now he is at a place where he has better football players then he did at most NFL jobs.'
On who wins the basketball competition between Carroll and Harris
'The basketball competition, when we play which was quite often, especially when we were at the Jets, most of the time we were never on the same team. Most of the time he guarded me. I think the day he dies he is still going to be slapping at the ball. He has really quick hands, and I have a lot of scratches and scars on my hands and forearms from being scratched by him slapping at the ball. He is a tremendous competitor. The harder it gets the better he likes it.'
On the feeling after losing to UCLA
'Quite honestly this is something that plagued Stanford before we got here. Last year they lost five games by 22 points. Of course this year, in our four wins we were able to win the game in the fourth quarter. Either we were able to score in the fourth quarter or stopping in the fourth quarter. It hasn't been completely like a year ago. We just failed to get it done in this last game. So it is a goal of ours and something we have to work hard at to make it happen with this group. It is the difference between us being a real good team and us not being a real good team.'
On the Morale of the team
'I think the morals is good. I am more concerned with how they practice. We were heartbroken, but these guys are smart. They know what is going on. I think they have a real good concept of where we are falling short. We are looking forward to playing another undefeated team, especially one with the stature and the talent and the skill that USC has.'
On turning the team around after the UC Davis loss
'It is a team thing. We did it as a team to ourselves. We climbed our way out of the gutter, so to speak, after that loss. We own that loss, there is nothing we can do about it, and we earned it. We had to bite the bullet, so to speak, with regards to the ridicule that we are responsible for. To our players' credit, and to the leadership of our seniors and our coaching staff, we have been able to rebound and have a couple of victories that a lot of people didn't think we could get after that situation. All the credit goes to those guys on the field who are playing and especially our seniors. Hopefully we are going to continue, even against the great football team that we are playing this weekend.'