Pete Carroll Talks About Saturday's Game At Nebraska

Sept. 11, 2007

September 11, 2007

Pete Carroll Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: Welcome back after a week off. Let's talk some football.
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, this has been a big buildup here. A week off. All ready to get ready for this next game. A week here to put our game plan finally in order.

It's going to take all of this time to get ready. We're up against a very, very good football team, a winning Nebraska team. A bunch of guys that won a lot of games last year are coming back.

Obviously a very difficult place to play. I've never been there for a game. Visited before, but never been there for a game. I know just historically it's an extraordinary crowd. They've got great following. It's going to be a fantastic challenge for our young guys to handle it, deal with it well, perform like they're capable.

These big games have come long earlier in the year every year, whether they're the opener or not. They've always imposed a tremendous challenge for us. We look forward to it, knowing that we need to go out there, get in the situation, find a way to win a football game, and then get the heck out of there.

It will be extremely difficult and all, but, again, if with we can get that done, it's a great accomplishment for our team. We'll use that throughout the rest of the season. We have very high hopes and expectations. We have the benefit of some guys coming back to us off of this break, coming out of camp. Patrick Turner practiced yesterday. Chauncey Washington practiced yesterday. Matt Spanos even got on the field some yesterday surprisingly.

So we're getting back. We're getting stronger. We did lose Josh Pinkard. Officially he won't be able to come back to us. But we're getting a little bit stronger and we're hoping that we can put together a really big time week and finish this thing off and get a big game done in Nebraska.

That's all I have to say about that.

Q. Can you talk about why you love these early challenges on the road?
COACH CARROLL: We're going to face some extraordinary challenges down the schedule with our conference and going to Notre Dame. These road games are hugely challenging.

It's served us well in the past to take on big matchups and get there and figure out a way to get a game won, get the heck out. Then we've been able to talk about it, use it. We always want to accomplish stuff and then build from there, particularly with the young kids, to prove to them that they're capable and worthy of handling these environments.

This is what this one poses for us, and hopefully we can do that.

Q. What about Washington and Turner, Spanos? How many of those guys do you expect to play? What is it with Pinkard?
COACH CARROLL: I think Matt Spanos is a real longshot, but his will is just bringing him back above and beyond the call here. I mean, so we'll see what happens.

Chauncey practiced well yesterday, and so did Patrick. Those guys look like they're going to play. They've got to make it through a week of work, but they look in good shape. They were in full speed yesterday running around and call.

Josh Pinkard, he hurt his knee a couple weeks ago and he tried to get back with a brace and all that, and he just reinjured it, just didn't work. I haven't heard the official word from the doctors but I'm pretty sure he's going to have to get operated on and get some ACL work done.

Unfortunately, it's just a terrible loss for our guy Josh. He's a terrific football player that just, you know, had to share in all of the frustration you can. Played one game last year. Missed the whole season. Couldn't get to the first game this year. So I feel terrible about that for him.

He's a great kid. You know, we'll just have to bring him along with us, take care of him, and hopefully he'll figure out a way to put this in a good place, come back and get some more play time done when he gets healed up.

Q. Are you restricted to the travel size with the players?
COACH CARROLL: Only by the size of the plane right now, so (laughter). We're taking a bunch of guys on this trip. So it's not the same as the PAC 10, no.

Q. We're hearing this is going to be the biggest game ever back there. Have you heard that?
COACH CARROLL: No, I didn't hear that yet. But, you know, we've heard that before (laughter). You know, I know they have such a good team and they've come along, they've grown with Coach Callahan's teams in the last couple years. Had a big year last year. You know, this is a great opportunity for them. You don't often get a chance to play a team that's ranked so high. When you do, you want to make everything of it.

They're going to be up to the task. This is a veteran football team with great schemes and great coaching. They know what they're doing, what they want to get done on all phases of their game. They're going to, I'm sure, have a great deal of confidence and be as ready as anybody can get ready.

You know, we are accustomed over the years to playing teams that are prepared to give us the best shot they could possibly give us and their fans are always, you know, ready to answer the call. That's what we have come to expect and that's normal for us to be in that situation. It doesn't make it easy, but it is what we have come to grow and learn to expect.

It makes us have to play our best. It really draws out the best that we have to offer. And that's really what I think is a hallmark in this program, that you're going to get that every week, week in, week out. If you can answer it, it makes you who you are.

So, you know, we know it's going to be difficult, but that makes it good really if you can get over it.

Q. We just talked with Coach Callahan about a bit of a conservative style last year from Nebraska. Do you think you might see a more opened up format?
COACH CARROLL: They've had a full array of plans over the years, you know, that we've seen in how they've gone about beating their opponents. They've done a lot of winning, so they know what they're doing. They know what's best for them. We don't really know what to expect.
They ran the ball 70 times in the opener, they came back and balanced it out pretty good in the second game. We've seen them in their championship games, in Bowl games, great traditional matchups that they have. We've seen how they've varied their attack.
Bill has brought an extremely well equipped offense. They can do anything. They can totally open it up if they want to or close it up and hammer you. Last year that was the way they went after us. Maybe they attacked our speed. We're not real big on defense. Maybe that's what they thought. I don't know. They had a plan.
I don't know what to expect this time around. But we are preparing. Fortunately with two weeks, we have a chance to prepare for more than just a couple thoughts. So we're going to try to get all that ironed out and then adjust as we go.

Q. Can you talk about what you've seen from Sam Keller so far in comparison to last time you saw him.
COACH CARROLL: Entirely different style of offense. His offense is unique in itself. This is a different style. This is a style that we're familiar with, that we've seen. Very NFL oriented style of attack, run and pass. The dropback game, the play actions, all of that, we recognize where they come from and all.
Sam can do anything. I mean, he's a really efficient, well equipped quarterback. He's got a big arm. He's savvy. He's fiery. He's all that stuff. He can handle it.
But it is a different style right now and he's done it quite well so far. He's off to a good start. Led them to two good wins. I'm sure he's confident. Already been on the road, been in a tough situation at Wake.
So they haven't skipped a beat. They lost a Player of the Year in their conference, haven't skipped a beat coming out in the first couple games. They're very fortunate to come up with a guy with that kind of game experience and a guy obviously they've coached him really well because they've fit him into their scheme already.

Q. You said you have never been to a game there, but visited. Besides going to a game, why would somebody go to Nebraska? I'm curious why you visited?
COACH CARROLL: I wouldn't think that Nebraska people would be very fond of the way you put that. There's a lot of good things in Nebraska.
I went there to visit when I was at North Carolina State, I think it was. We went out there to visit in the springtime, took a plane trip up there with a bunch of coaches, spent a couple days with their coaching staff. That was way back when.

Q. Sanchez ready to be the backup?
COACH CARROLL: Mark's ready to go. Yeah, he took snaps yesterday. He's full speed. He's throwing the ball very well. He's as pumped up as you can get, ready to get back in action, hoping he gets a chance to contribute for us.
We won't hesitate to put him in the game. He's ready to go. That feels different on a practice field, having Mark back out there. I said that before. It just felt like there was a void there because we got so used to Mark and John going at it in practice every day. When this second group would pop up, Mark would come in there with a bunch of fire, juice, get them pumped up. He's just unique in that way. So it's fun to have him back out there. He's battling. Every play to him is a big play now that he's back at it.

Q. Yesterday I asked about your general preference in terms of field turf. Today is there any advantage?
COACH CARROLL: I haven't changed on that thought. I'm holding true to that (laughter).

Q. Any possible advantage or disadvantage?
COACH CARROLL: I thought about changing my opinion, but I've really felt strongly about my general thought (laughter).
I'm sorry.

Q. That's okay. I mean, could it possibly be an advantage for a home team?
COACH CARROLL: You know, a few years ago we had a little string there where we had lost a couple overtime games and another game I think on turf, and in all of those games we kicked the ball poorly. We had missed a field goal, extra point or something in those games and that was the margin of victory in those games. When we got the turf out here to practice on, the little patch we have to kick off of and all that, we put all that to rest and that hasn't happened any more.
But now that we have the field out here, you know, on the track stadium field, I don't feel like it's any disadvantage to us at all any more. We were on that periodically throughout spring and fall just to get out there. We were out there yesterday. We feel fine about it now.
There was a time. It didn't affect any of the rest of our game, I didn't think, but it did affect the kicking game. So we've been able to handle that and take care of that.

Q. How much will the tailback rotation be predicated on Chauncey's condition?
COACH CARROLL: Well, if Chauncey is full speed, he's going to play in the game. We're anxious to get him back out. He's a fifth year senior that has earned his way around here. We want to see how he does, see how he fits in. That's an aspect of the competition is what that is. No guarantee Chauncey is going to play the whole game. We would never plan on doing that right now.
We would still rotate our guys and have them available to us in the fashion that we like to do. You know, we work our guys in and out. Until something clearly changes that, we're going to continue to do that. The competition in the games may settle that differently. We don't know.
Joe is full speed now, ready to go. We're getting back to full strength at that spot. So, you know, it's going to be interesting to see how the guys fit in, how we can mix them together. Chauncey is 212 pounds right now. That's maybe 15, 20 pounds less than he was a year ago at this time. He's worked really hard to maintain that level of conditioning and we're anxious to see how he competes. He looks really fast when he's been in camp, and he did again yesterday. Fresh legs helps.
It's just been kind of a new and improved Chauncey Washington till he got his shoulder banged up. We're anxious to see how he fits in and we won't really know until he plays. It will affect it some, but we just have to wait and see.

Q. What do you think of the Michigan/Notre Dame game?
COACH CARROLL: I like the game, yeah (laughter). Yeah, what a great match up this is this time. I mean, you can't imagine I mean, none of us could imagine how hungry those two teams are, the coaching staff, their fans as well.
Unfortunately for one of those two teams, somebody's going to get knocked off again. It's got to be extremely tense for those guys. I know they're I mean, they're going to have a heck of a battle. It would be a fun one to watch.

Q. Do you get a chance to watch many games on a Saturday?
COACH CARROLL: When we play the night games, we do watch games. They're on TV all day long, so we do get to see a lot of games. I didn't see anything this past weekend because we were running around recruiting. Yeah, we'll get to see some when we're at the hotel.

Q. When you watch a game from your perspective, say Michigan, what have you, do you watch it strictly from a coaching standpoint?
COACH CARROLL: No, I think I go in and out a little bit. I had a chance at the Coliseum this weekend to watch North Carolina A&T from the press box, which I haven't seen a college game in I can't remember the last time I did that.
It's really fun for me to get up there. I've coached a lot of years from the box. It's really fun to watch a football game from up there. There's so many things to see that you can't see from the sidelines, particularly when you don't have a vested interest.
But it's a totally different perspective of the game. There's so many things to watch. I had a great time doing it. When I watch television games, I'm always looking for stuff that I want to fined and see and all that. But basically I fall into kind of having fun, rooting like anybody else.

Q. In hindsight with the Idaho game, do you think there was enough energy looking back on that, offensive, defensive energy from your team?
COACH CARROLL: Well, we scored the first three times we had the ball. Went right down the field, didn't have any problem. Then we tried to run the ball a little bit. We really did some things just to do them once we had control of the game, and it did bog down. There's no doubt. I felt that as well as anybody that was watching it. We got stopped a couple times. Went three and out a couple times.
Then when we got back to business in the third quarter, we did what we needed to do again. The defense gave up a yard in the third quarter. It was a different game. It was not like other games for us. I'm glad we got our win and met a number of objectives in the game. I'm glad to see Idaho come back and win, do some stuff, get going.

Q. Anything you thought you needed to address with them?
COACH CARROLL: No. It was an unusual game, you know. So we accomplished a lot of stuff. I don't think we wowed anybody with consistency.

Q. Do you look back on a lot of stuff?
COACH CARROLL: No, not necessarily. We just had a lot of things that in some games you wouldn't be able to try. You know, we had control of the game early. We substituted some guys early in different spots, called some plays to make sure the guy got the ball, things like that because we wanted to make sure we got those things accomplished as we were working through the game.
You know, we gave up one pass play that set up a chance for a field goal. They did that. And then they scored in the fourth quarter against our guys out there battling. So, you know, I don't really have any concerns.
I'll see what happens this week. Talk to me Sunday. I'll let you know. I don't know right now.

Q. Seemed like Wake was able to move the ball efficiently against Nebraska. Can you talk about what you learned from that tape?
COACH CARROLL: That was an interesting game. Really highly contested, you know, both ways. The defenses were playing it. Then the kid from Wake just caught fire. No. 21, I don't know his name. But he has a fantastic second half. They couldn't tackle him. He was making plays all over the place. Really popped some runs, caught the ball and ran with it. Put them back in the football game.
Wake really had a legitimate chance to win the game, to go down and win it. Nebraska's defense rose to the occasion and won the football game.
But it was a really good game to see them because they were stressed on that one, you know. Wake's a really good program. To underestimate that is to misread this game. It's like misreading the Appalachian State thing. That's a very, very good football team, whether you want to admit it or not, or care to you. Wake Forest won a lot of games last year. They had a lot of kids, played with a backup quarterback. They rallied around him. They were tough now.
So we learned a lot from that game. It was a very good game to evaluate, more so than the first game. So, you know, I know Nebraska, they were challenged by those guys. Wake is going to win a bunch of games when they get healthy, I would think. So it was a good one for us to see.

Q. I think I know your answer from past years, but I'll ask anyway. LSU looked real good. I assume you didn't see the game.

Q. 19 more No. 1 votes this week.
COACH CARROLL: They did (laughter)?

Q. Does that bother you at all?
COACH CARROLL: No, I didn't know they got 19 more votes. But they're playing great football. I know, I keep an eye on those guys because their defensive coordinator is a guy I worked with for a number of years. They're playing great, great defense right now. That's the kind of defense that get you a bunch of wins. They look like they have a very, very good chance to have a great season, I know that. But I have not had a chance to see them. I'd love to watch them. I just haven't been able to catch them yet.
19 points, that's good. I don't know what that means. I don't know how many points is there? How many are there? I don't know.

Q. 65.
COACH CARROLL: That is right, 65? Where do they come from? The ever pervading points system? Where are those points coming from?

Q. You guys had 62 first place votes the first week, and 40 this time, or 45.
COACH CARROLL: That a boy. My man, Rick (laughter). Yeah, where do those points come from? We can turn this thing around, can't we?

Q. The AP poll. Around the country we have different newspaper men, radio and TV people that vote, 65 of them to be exact.
COACH CARROLL: Do you sanction their opinions?

Q. Absolutely.
COACH CARROLL: Wow, it's a tight group.

Q. We're the AP. But the AP people don't vote.
COACH CARROLL: Do you go, 'We are AP,' that kind of stuff. Cool, I like it (laughter).

Q. Your rookie center is making good progress.
COACH CARROLL: Christopher, yeah, he's up against it. We're making him work against Cedric as much as we can so he gets a great battle. They'll battle today again all day long. Through the help of the communications getting more solidified, it will really make him more consistent. But he's going to be a very good football player.

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