Pete Carroll, Jeff Tedford Talk About Saturday's Football Game
Press Conference QuotesTuesday, November 14, 2006Pete Carroll - USC Head Football Coach
This past week really was a good accomplishment for our football team. An exciting opportunity presented to us, coming home and getting this thing started to the finish of the season. The way our guys responded, playing well in all phases of the game against a really good Oregon team and a team that obviously is a high flying offense and all of that. We're excited about this opportunity to come down to play at the Coliseum and all that...to see our guys respond and play again in really good fashion like we did a couple weeks ago at Stanford, is exciting for us. I think it's a good sign that we're maturing. We played well across the board in all phases and it gave us a chance to win a game that was hard fought and obviously means a lot. It puts us in a situation this week, playing California where we have an opportunity to win a championship. I hadn't thought about that going into the game. I didn't know until some of you guys told me afterward. It's an exciting game to again, return to the Coliseum. We've had great match-ups in the last few years and there's a lot of excitement about this match-up. They're a very, very worthy football team. I don't know what their ranking is, but they can play with anybody. They've got a tremendous roster on offense and defense with players that make things happen and highlight guys...explosive potential with their offense with their throwing game and their running game. It makes them a very, very dangerous team and a very difficult opponent. We wouldn't ask for anything less than that. We're expecting great challenges. We're ready for this. We're going to try to put together an incredibly good solid week of preparation with a focus as we always do and try to get ready for a very cool match-up that I think is going to be fun for everybody. I'm really pumped up about this week. I'm looking forward to it.
On whether or not he would prefer to see Cal come in with a winning streak
No I don't care about that. One way or the other--it doesn't matter to me. It wouldn't matter what their record was. Whether it benefits them or not, I don't know any of that stuff. I think that's just good talk. I think they know what they're up against with a chance to win a championship. They know that they have a really good football team and they're going to bring it.
On whether or not he would rather play Western Carolina this week
No I like this. We couldn't be playing for a Rose Bowl if we were playing Western Carolina. I think the impact of the Pac-10 championship being this week is perfect timing. It's beautiful and we're looking forward to it.
On difficulty keeping players' attention at the college level week to week
It hasn't been for us. We really set our sights, way back, years ago at trying to understand what it takes to focus and have the ability to play up every week so that we could have a chance to win every game somewhere in the future. We've learned a way and a manner to deal with it and I'm proud of that. I'm real proud of that. I'm proud that we played Stanford when they weren't doing very well and we beat them well with a really good performance. We didn't struggle that week because of the match-up and we came back and played well again the next week. We've been able to do this for a long time. Do I think it's a challenge? I think it's a great challenge in all sports. I don't think it matters whether you're college or high school or whatever to maintain a consistency about the way you prepare and you approach your games so that you can play like you're capable of playing. That's the big challenge. Things factor in and they distract you from being who you are often and I think it's a great challenge. I'm excited to have another opportunity to prove that we can do it.
On whether or not the possible Rose Bowl berth distracts his team
No because we don't look for those kinds of things. It happens to be that the Rose Bowl is at stake this weekend and that's something that we have to talk about and deal with to put it where it belongs so that we can do what we always do. I've never even begun to try and pump a game since the first Notre Dame game about it being a special game. I made that mistake in the first year and I knew it was a classic mistake and we haven't done it since and won't do it. Whether that's enough or if that's the way to do it, I don't know but it's the only way I know how to do it now. So these are great games. One of the good fortunes for us in the schedule and looking at it is, in winning some championships, you realize that every game is a championship game for you. Every once in a while, when you lose one and you realize well maybe it isn't anymore, fortunately, it still is. We talked like that after the Oregon State game just to realize that, yeah there was still plenty of opportunities to win championships. Okay, put that in your back pocket and let's go back to work again. That's an important mindset and mentality that we have to hold to maintain the kind of level of play week in and week out. I don't think it's too hard. I don't think it's a great challenge that we can't handle. This is what you're challenged in sports every week.
On fact that no one has ever won five consecutive Pac-10 championships
After the fact, we'll be very proud of something like that if you can own that but it doesn't have anything to do with the game. It's just like the BCS has nothing to do with this game. This game is what it is and then when we look back after the game, we'll find out what the factor is. To talk about stuff like that; to dwell on things like that, to search for things to get excited about--we don't need that.
On whether he combats fact that Cal hasn't been to Rose Bowl in 48 years
No, because it doesn't matter about how they're preparing or how they're psyched up or any of that stuff. I have to deal with the pervading kind of opinion of what's going so that the guys understand why people are talking the way they're talking about it and then we put that in a place where we don't allow that to factor in. Every week, there's something about a game. It's the biggest crowd ever; it's the first time this or that and that's what we've come to expect and that's normal for us in a game. So those factors should not be part of the make up of a game.
On setting the tone for the season by playing in tough places
We've used that philosophy of the way we've scheduled and who we've scheduled early on to maximize that mentality. Go back to the Auburn games and the Virginia Tech game, and the Arkansas game. Those are extraordinary bowl game atmospheres that are perfect for you to start your season off because once you've accomplished that win however you do it, you set yourself in motion to handle whatever is going to come up during the course of the season. I think there's a vast difference between that and playing a team that's from a different division or something. Some teams do, and we understand the philosophy there and it's a great philosophy as well but this has really served us well. There's no time when we ever take a breather in the schedule or look at anybody than the opponent because we know that anybody can beat you. That's about learning how to respect the game and respect the match-ups and respect what can happen that can be outside of your control. That's why playing against teams that are struggling is such an issue to play well because now you've gone over the top, you've lived the philosophy, and you've proven that you understand.
On his realizations after his first Notre Dame game
I knew I screwed it up. I knew I blew it. I could tell during the week but I went with it. I just had to learn. It's more fun probably to talk up these kinds of old historic this and that's. And it's fun for everybody but it doesn't serve the preparation of the athletes and the coaches. It doesn't serve you well. You don't need that. We don't need extra incentives. If you understand that every game is a championship game, and you're going to give everything you possibly can in the preparation and in the participation of that game, then when would you ever decide when to, when not to? That's the whole point. It's the same philosophy that goes through everything that we do in football. When are you going to decide that a play is more important that another play; when I need to go full speed or when I need to try my best? So you get out of that mentality--you don't allow for that kind of thinking in any phase. We don't in any phase of our program. We're real hard about any indications of that being displayed by our guys. That's why we try to practice so fast and so hard every single day, every day of the year for six years. That constant reminder that I think develops mentality that gives you only one way to look at stuff and then you alleviate the room for error and the room to vacillate and all.
On sorting out the replay situation from the Oregon game
Yeah I think I'm pretty clear. Not until the league office gets to see our copies of the film will I really know if they saw it the way we saw it. It was an extraordinary circumstance of things that happened in there that really were not handled the right way. The guys did the best they could but they missed it. They missed the tipping of the ball in real live action. The guys on the field didn't see that. They missed it when they went through the first replay, they didn't recognize that the ball was tipped and so they said the guy went out of bounds and came back in--illegal catching. And then when they went back again, Mike did a great job when given the opportunity to replay again. I think they asked him. He said that they asked him 'would you like to challenge this play.' Which I don't know why they would do that but that's what Mike said. I don't know if that happened or not but it was written that way. So he jumped on it and he challenged a different issue of the challenge. You can't challenge the fact that has just been observed but you can challenge a different aspect of the play, which was 'we think the ball was tipped which made that guy a legal receiver'. Okay, we can accept the challenge so that's what they did. In doing that, I think they got the play right. The question still remains, the first receiver, I think his name was Jordan Kent, stepped out of bounds, came back in bounds and tipped the ball. Whether he was forced out of bounds by Kevin Ellison is the real question. They never even approached that...they never even saw that. Still, they've never seen the fact that that guy was out of bounds. I reported that to them, and they're going to see that on our copy. Again, I don't know if it showed up on the TV copy or not, but there was two guys that went out of bounds on that play. A very, very interesting thing. It just took too long.
On whether this was the first time his 'language' had appeared on TV
No, but it was regrettable. It was a big mistake on my part. I would never direct anything at Mike Belotti. I think he's a heck of a coach.
On whether he could have challenged Mike Belotti's challenge
I could have challenged. From what I was told on the field, which was a mistake, but the guys that told me. They told me the reason that the catch was okay and the play was overturned again was that a defensive player made contact with the ball before the receiver caught the ball, which is not the rule. It didn't make sense to me at the time. I could have challenged that and said `no it was not', the defensive player did not touch the ball...maybe had an attempt at a third go around. Any player that touches the ball makes the next receiver a legal receiver, an eligible receiver. But what I was told on the sideline was not that. And then what I was really upset about was you have to have conclusive evidence to change it and to see what happened on that film to find out if the defensive player did touch that ball, it's ridiculous. You can't tell. I can stop the action and show you. You can't tell. So if that was the basis, as I was told, which I don't think that was accurate either, what I was told on the sideline... so it was just a lot of stuff that was happening and unfortunately it took 14, 15 minutes. And let me say this about instant replay since you're not asking. That's the ultimate example of why you don't have instant replay. We had 94,000 or whatever we had there, sitting on their hands for almost 15 minutes waiting for a replay. I know that the league office would say that that should have been handled in a minute and a half or a minute and twenty seconds. They could have easily done it had they seen the ball tip. But it still remains that the game stopped and it stopped for a really long time and that's just not okay. That's not the way this game was ever designed to be played. Sports in general weren't designed to be played that way. There's a human element that I love in all phases whether it's the performers or the officials, let the game roll. They scored the touchdown anyway. So I continue to be a jerk about it and be an advocate against it and I'm never going to probably to win that thing.
On possibility of Oregon quarterback being beyond the line of scrimmage on the reviewed play
I heard that too. You know, after all the looks, I didn't see that one either. I'm just like those guys, I didn't see the cross the line if he was. Someone else asked me that.
On the coming together of the defense
Yeah we're coming together and we're cutting our guys loose more. We really feel like we've zeroed in on our guys a little more. Really, individually, to use them in some special ways to position them so they can create more. They've taken off with it and run with it. We challenged them a couple weeks ago with the thought that regardless of how our offense plays, we can play good enough defense to win this thing out. We've talked that way for a couple weeks now and in that we've allowed them to be more aggressive with the calls that we're making. I think Nick Holt has done a great job of adjusting and fixing the format that we were going through and changing it some so that we've captured our guys a little bit more in their intensity and their style.
On how Emmanuel Moody being out changes things
It won't change much. We're real happy to play C.J. Gable and Stafon Johnson is right there ready to go too. It was just a matter of choosing the times and what play calling. C.J. will get a lot more work and Stafon steps up a notch. I said a while back, we've played enough games with the young guys. We don't feel like their young guys anymore. So we're not concerned about it at all. C.J. has been very consistent, very tough, scoring well and really good and effective inside the 10-yard line. He went out and got his chances and he's catching the ball fine and his assignments are improving and all that so we're going to play with him like he's an experienced player. Chauncey should be back. We're going to rest him today. Wednesday, Thursday, we'll get him back in there. We expect him to play.
On Jeff Tedford being in his head
I think he's a terrific guy. Well, he's in my head this week because we're playing them. It's an exciting preparation for us because they know us and we know them. We've played a lot of times now and it feels like the match-ups that I used to be accustomed to. We know the call and they know you and you know what they know and they know what you know and all of that. It's really fun for us, in this preparation. There is some actual personality involved with this now. You can see it. It takes a while to uncover that. The first couple times or go-arounds, you don't really understand but not we do. It makes for a real interesting game planning week and I'm sure it does for them as well. That's really the case. In the NFL, there's so few teams that you see the games that they play against their opponents week in and week out. So you do get to learn the nature of the guys that you play against. That's why the actual tactical part of that game in the NFL, there's more intricacies to it because you know them so well that the slightest or subtlest of adjustments can play a big factor because people are counting on you to be this way or that way. I've always liked that because I've looked forward to getting to this point. Years ago, I didn't know these guys so it just took a while.
On knowing a coach like Jeff Tedford so well
Well, hopefully, that's the whole idea is that you bank on what you know. You have a lot of input now. But they do too. They're really good and really capable and Jeff does a marvelous job so it's a fun match-up.
On whether he'd like to see Tedford move on to the NFL
It would be a great thing yeah. I think he's primed. I think that there's a lot of teams that want to talk to him. I'm sure that you won't hear much about it but there's a good chance that there's four or five teams already talking to him under the table. (crowd laughs) I'm kidding you Jeff.
On which factors more, coaching or having better players
Well, it depends. It depends on the game. The best players don't always win. It's the guys that play the best on that day that win. That's always been proven and it's what does it take to get your guys to play the best. We try, and maybe it doesn't seem like this, but we try to not bank on our players to win the game. We try to bank on the preparation and the whole thing. Then when they do the things that they do and they make the marvelous plays that they make, they accent their play that day. We try to scheme it so that no matter who is in the game, we're going to win the football game. But certainly, certainly the players, they've got to score the touchdowns, they've got to catch the balls, they've got to make the adjustments. John David Booty has got to make the checks so that he puts us in the right spots. He's the one that has to do that through their design and the preparation so ultimately, it does come down to the players.
On his expectations of being in the BCS title game should USC win out
I would think that it's pretty hard to keep us out just because of the schedule that we've had to play but I don't know. I don't have any idea what the other teams schedules are as you match them up. But I know that we'll have a heck of a chance because we've played a very difficult schedule through the season. The teams that we've played have done well. Arkansas and Nebraska were great. Notre Dame is having a fantastic year. I don't know how you can make it much harder than that. I don't even know how that weighs in but I know it's a factor.
On Cal receiver DeSean Jackson
Yeah we really thought he was a great prospect. We thought he was an incredible prospect. He was so fast and such a natural athlete. Physically, he looked like he'd have a great career and we were really excited about recruiting him. It didn't work out at the end of it. He went right up to signing day before he announced. But he's having a great year. You saw glimpses of it in his freshman year but without question, right from the Tennessee game on, he's been making plays.
On why he was so animated at the end of the game
Well there was a really interesting thing that happened. I guess I'm not surprised that you noticed it. When the whole instant replay thing happened, if you looked, I think the clock was 13:50 or something left in the game. We were all caught up in the replay thing; we're waiting to see what was going to happen. We were very competitive about not letting them score there. We took them down to fourth down and had a great chance to keep them out of there and not give them a breath of hope and then that whole thing started. It was somewhere in the middle of that, that it clicked in my mind that this is an opportunity that we could lose our edge. If they get this decision, and now it's ten points and there's a whole quarter left to play, that we could really suffer through this, this exchange, momentum and all. And it hit at me and I realized that what I needed to do is I needed to make sure and capture the focus of our players and not let them wander. Sure enough, I walked over and I saw a couple of our red-shirt freshmen offensive linemen kind of sitting on their helmets and they were kind of yucking it up and not really paying attention. And I looked at Dwayne Jarrett and I saw him kind of talking and I realized that I had to capture, I had to attempt to capture what the heck was going on because we might lose the focus and then all of a sudden, this turns into an ESPN game and then they're cheerleading for what the Ducks did at the end of the game as opposed to what we were going to do. So in an effort to try and make sure that we didn't, it was a teachable opportunity as well. That the game isn't over, and that you need to stay focused. I tried to capture them so I was working hard. From the All-American receiver and the quarterback and Ryan Kalil and the oldest guy in Oscar Lua, to the red-shirt freshman, I was trying to send the message of how we need to finish this game and to make sure that if nothing else, they were captured by my craziness down there. What was extraordinary for us in that moment is that the offense went out on the field after they scored, after all the garbage that happened, the offense went out there and went 'Bang!' right down the field and scored a touchdown and it was over. We had them. I was fearing that we had the opportunity to lose the momentum over whatever that span was going to be and it was so important to remain competitive throughout that game that whatever it took, I was going to do it. Obviously, whatever it took, took me a little bit too far. But that was a competitors moment right there I thought. I wanted to at least let them know what I was feeling. I was wearing it on my sleeve.
On throwing on first downs 80% of the time
What happens with statistics, as soon as they develop and establish themselves, then they're ready to be adjusted. Prior to that, our numbers were a different way. Obviously, we're going to run the ball this game on every first down to offset those numbers.
On Cal quarterback Nate Longshore
Nate is having a great year. He's having a really good year. He's got 21 touchdowns and nine picks or something like that. Great numbers for a first year starter...61% completion, tons of big plays...they're a really productive offense. He's done a great job as a first year starter. If you look at his numbers and compare them to John David, they're just about neck and neck. I think they've made an improvement over how the quarterback play wound up at the end of last season. It kind of tailed off for them and they did not get good quarterback play against us last year at our game. As a matter of fact, it was the first thing that Jeff said to me at midfield. He recognized that they had fallen off some. They're back to it and they've had a great and productive year with Nate at the quarterback spot. He's just getting warmed up and he's going to be a great player.
On USC quarterback John David Booty
I think John David has had a terrific season. He's had an all Pac-10 season. His numbers are great. 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions are awesome numbers with almost 62% completions. Great decision-making. He probably checked off--I think he checked off to three touchdown plays last week in the game. He's playing exactly as we could have hoped that he would play. He's given us stability from the first quarter of the first game so his consistency has been awesome. He's doing everything the way we want him to do it. Probably our expectations, our hopes, this is what we had hoped for so he's done a great job.
Jeff Tedford - California Head Football Coach
On last weekend's loss at Arizona
To figure out what happened, it's pretty evident. We didn't make enough plays. We turned the football over--threw an interception for a touchdown. They're a great defensive football team. You got to make your chances count, your opportunities count. You can't turn the football over and it was one of the few games where we lost the turnover battle. Like I said, anytime you throw a pick for a touchdown, you know our defense was playing pretty well, we gave them those points there. We just didn't capitalize on things that we needed to. We got down in the scoring zone a couple times, down on the 1-yard line and settled for a field goal. It's those things. We just didn't make enough plays and turned the football over. I think in this game, any time you turn the football over, you're giving the other team an opportunity to do some good things.
On his team's attitude
They're attitude was quite obviously that they were quite disappointed in the beginning but know that we need to move forward. We have a huge game this weekend against a great, great football team with a lot at stake. Our guys have put last week behind them and have a good attitude about going into this weeks' practice.
On what it means to be playing for a chance to play in the Rose Bowl
Well, it's nice to be in this situation. You're right; we haven't had this opportunity very often so I'm proud of our players for putting themselves in this position. To know that we're playing a great football team as USC, USC is playing excellent right now. They're as good a defensive football team, I think, as there is in the country. No question about it. They're doing an excellent job but it's nice to be playing for a conference championship this late in the year. You don't get in this position every year. We're thankful for it but also we know that it's going to be a lot of hard work.
On offensive players, Marshawn Lynch, DeSean Jackson and Nate Longshore
Marshawn has played solid this year. He played through numerous injuries, especially with his ankle a few games ago, but he's coming back on track now... so he's a very exciting player, no question. DeSean Jackson has been making big plays not only in the passing game but on special teams. He's very fast and is capable of doing some things. Nate, for a first year player, I think, has made the transition very well. You've got to remember that he pretty much is a true freshman when it comes to playing on the field. It's his first time out there. He's done a pretty good job of adjusting to the speed of the game. He's still learning every week but he's done a nice job.
On the California defense
Defensive players, played solid. A couple weeks ago, they bent a little bit. Against UCLA, they moved the ball but they did a nice job when they finally got down to the scoring zone to come up with some turnovers. They've been very opportunistic when it comes to coming up with turnovers. Last week, unfortunately, we didn't. We didn't come up with any. A couple plays, I thought our defense played real solid last week except for maybe two or three plays but those ended up being the difference. But our defense has played solid. Brandon Mebane is a force inside. He's played well. Our middle linebacker, Desmond Bishop and our whole linebacking crew have been playing pretty solid. And then our secondary has been solid led by Daymeion Hughes who leads the conference in interceptions.
On the Cal-USC rivalry and nail-biter games
It's just been two good football teams playing against one another. I have a great deal of respect for Pete and his staff and their football team as well as does our team. We've been fortunate to have some real good games with them besides last year of course as you mentioned. I think it's just two teams that get up to play one another and we've had some good ones and hopefully, we'll have a good one this year.
On what he sees in the USC team
Talent all over--Of course, the receiving corps is excellent. Their quarterback is playing very well, he's throwing the ball very accurately. Very good offensive line...their running back is coming on strong. So they're very, very solid there. Defensively, I don't think there are any holes anywhere in their defense. They can get after you up front. They have excellent linebackers who can really run and play. They have a very good secondary, so there are no holes anywhere. It's a typical USC team that's loaded with talent on both sides of the ball.
On his sense of what the possible Rose Bowl berth is like
I think it's more in the community, more with the media. The players don't really talk about it much. It's just 'have to go to play USC.' I think they know in the back of their minds, there's an opportunity there to do something for the league championship this year. But we can't really think about that--about what's riding on it. It's more just taking care of our self and trying to get prepared to play an excellent USC team. I think more the outsiders talk about it. We don't really talk about that much internally.
On John David Booty and how to defend him
It seems like he's a little more mobile. They do a lot more bootlegs--he gets on the perimeter very, very well. Not that Matt Leinart couldn't do that but it seems like they do a little more of that with him. He's very accurate throwing the ball. He's got good presence in the pocket. I don't think that you prepare any differently for him than you did Matt, but he does get out of the pocket a little bit more, it seems like.
On whether he gets special tips for preparing or going against Pete Carroll
No, not at all--I have a great deal of respect for Pete and he does such a great job. They're always very difficult to prepare for. They're the most difficult team that we play obviously. No, it's nothing personally, it's Pete or I don't get up for that or anything. It's just a matter of trying to get our team prepared to play. Like I said, I have a great deal respect for Pete and think he does such a great job in all areas. It's just another game in trying to get our team prepared to do the things against what they do.
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