Pete Carroll Talks About Saturday's Game Against Washington State

September 18, 2007

THE MODERATOR: We'll get going here with coach.

COACH CARROLL: First off, just touch on the ballgame. We finished that off. Real pleased going in, starting off the PAC 10 season, coming off this Nebraska win. That was a big deal to us. We're really hoping we could build on that for the road games we have coming down the schedule in that we were in as difficult as environment as I think you can get in in college football. Our guys came through and performed really well, got us a big win.

We come out of that game pretty healthy for the most part. But also with a lot of things we continue to need to work on. We're pressed to improve. We got to get going. The conference is starting. Washington State is coming in here after winning some games, looking good, playing good football. We've got to get our act together.

We're really excited about coming home. It's great to come back to the Coliseum 2 0. Hope to make the very most of this.

We're facing a really good looking offensive football team, led by Alex Brink. This guy is a very, very good player. We're seeing a guy that knows how to run this offense, and it's a very good schematic offense that takes advantage of the field and spreading you out, all of the things they know how to do. And he's hot as a pistol right now.

This is a big challenge for us. We're hopefully going to be able to get it right and get underway with this game plan so we can get ourselves off to a good start in the conference.

It's a great chance right now to start this thing off. Lucky we're playing at home. We're lucky we're feeling pretty healthy right now, so we're going to try to take advantage of that, play a real good game. So we're looking forward to it.

Q. Great win, but enough in that game to kind of be able to point out this week some things that need to be improved on?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, there's a lot of things we need to work on. I'm disappointed we dropped the ball a little bit on offense. The ball is on the ground too much. The obvious strength was the running game, the ability to pound it at the line of scrimmage with an offensive line that played very well.

We need to balance that thing out. John David is doing a great job. We need to get the ball caught when we get our opportunities. I know that can be fixed and righted. So we're hopefully now balanced out.

Then on the other side the ball, we loved the way we played up front, but our third down stuff was not as good as it needs to be. And also we leaked a lot of yardage to them throwing the football.

I'm sure that as Washington State looks at that, they'd love to see us, you know, get all spread out and throw the ball like they do and see if they can keep that thing, move it, hang onto it. We've got to shore some things here before we get to this game.

Q. What was working for the offensive line? How were they able to have the ridiculous numbers they had?

COACH CARROLL: I think the ridiculous amount of success we had was caused we had really good preparation. We had a great two weeks of work against each other to get right. We were able to give them a really good look because there were some similar schemes they were running.

The thought of the game plan, the way we did things, I think caught them off guard a little bit. We had some real advantages with the way they were flowing on the different things that we did. Gave us a chance to get the ball into the secondary. Then the runningbacks did a great job. I really think it was more up front than the runningbacks in this deal. I don't mean to take anything away from them. The holes were really there. The downfield blocking was available to us. The guys just needed to come out ripping and stuff was going to happen.

Stafon was the guy that got most of the yardage and had a big game for us. Named PAC 10 Player of the Week, which was great, all that. Very much a team oriented effort. You know, I think it's a combination of things. But I think mostly we really had great preparation and it led to a great plan.

Q. A comment was made about one of the announcers on the telecast that you have now found (indiscernible). It's still a week to week thing, isn't it?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah. I'm not checking in with those guys on that stuff (laughter). They didn't call or anything.

So, yeah, we're still going. We're going to keep mixing. I think we're fortunate to have a lot of guys contributing. Chauncey is going to come back and play a little bit more. We fortunately got him 12 carries, whatever it was, before the game was over, kind of in a backup role just to see if he was ready, all that. He made it through the hitting. So he's ready to go this week.

Stafon is ready to go. CJ came out of the game healthy. Allen Bradford came out good. We're going to get Joe McKnight involved, too. We're going to continue to do what we do, mix the guys in there. I'm not in any sense of urgency or feel impatient about having to make some decisions or declarations at all in this. I think our guys are doing fine and in time maybe something takes shape and mean something. Right now we like the way this is working out. We're going to keep mixing our guys in there.

Q. Did your offense of motion put their defense in a bad place? COACH CARROLL: I think it slowed them down a little bit, slowed their pursuit down a little bit. I think that in combination with the bootlegs, stuff, getting the quarterback out of the pocket, was a nice mixture that really gave us an advantage.

Q. Havili seemed to be playing like an experienced senior.

COACH CARROLL: Stanley is doing terrific. We've been really singing praise for Stanley since we realized how adept he was at the position in the springtime. He really had a knack for it, feel for it right away. He's playing like a veteran player. He's got a great motor, great attitude about the game. Can't get him the ball enough.

We're going to continue to work it to him, make you have to defend Stanley as well as the other guys. Obviously, you can see the significance in last year not having this aspect in the offense. I think the fullback position right now is on course to be at its most productive stage we've had. I think Stanley can do a lot of things that we're thrilled about. He can get out of the backfield, line up and run routes, as well. Very versatile football player that we're really having fun mixing stuff up to get him involved.

Q. How about their receiver, the combination, causing problems?

COACH CARROLL: Brandon Gibson is really good. They lose Jason, you think maybe you're going to get a break. This guy is really doing everything that they had done last year. Making the plays, getting down field. They are using him way down the field on the deep balls and stuff. Mike Bumpus is a really good player. Michael does all kinds of stuff. So this is unfortunately they came right back with a big time hitter as well.

You know, we have our hands full with these guys.

Q. In the last several years you really have beaten non conference opponents soundly. Arkansas, Virginia Tech, stuff like that. Then last year you look at the results in the PAC 10, five or six of those games are within a touchdown.

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think it's just a statement of how difficult our conference is. We had our most difficult games last year in conference. We had a very difficult game up in Pullman last year with these guys. We understand that.

I think it's a statement about the quality of play in the conference. It's also a statement about the continuity of the coaches being around, maintaining their systems and gaining from the competition against one another. We're very familiar with each other now. That makes for I think tighter games and better play on both sides, all phases of the game, to make the games closer.

So we expect this to be very challenging, as is every game in this conference. You know, whether people on the outside recognize that or not, I don't really care. It doesn't really matter to me. But we know what we're dealing with. This is a tough, tough road every single week. And Washington State, they're going to show you, they're a really good team.

Q. You have kind of an unusual situation with (center) Kristofer O'Dowd coming right out of high school, playing in the middle of a veteran group, but has been very productive. How is that working out?

COACH CARROLL: Well, it's working out beautifully, you know, as well as we could have expected under the circumstances. He continues to improve. He still makes some rookie mistakes out there. A couple times he went the wrong way, and running backs took off, made plays out of it.

For the most part he was very physical. He had a bunch of knockdowns in both of the first two games, more than we're used to seeing from the center spot. He's a real strong, physical kid. Once he locks up on you, he really handles you.

Hopefully he can continue to grow, continue to get work against Sedrick Ellis, which will really help him. That's a big deal he's got to battle every day. Today is one of those days for him. It's going to be he and Sedrick knocking heads all day. That's part of the process of, you know, developing in practice, where the games become comfortable for him. I think what was really cool this week was Jeff Byers and Chilo (Rachal) did a great job of helping him, coordinating their communication in a most difficult setting. They did a very, very good job overall.

Also this was a chance for a young kid to lose his poise, too. Imagine the first snap he ever takes is on the four yard line in the Red Ocean or whatever they call that thing, going crazy. You couldn't hear. They came off the football, got us a good play, got us started. We're real proud of what Kristofer is doing. I'm really pleased with Pat's ability to get all these guys to work together, to keep the play at a level that allows us to play well.

Q. Was Sedrick as overpowering on film as he was in the game?

COACH CARROLL: He had a great game. Cedric really dominated in this game. Rushing the passer, as well. He's just a very, very talented football player. He's playing so well in the system now. He just knows things. He's playing fast, he's playing like we had seen Mike Patterson play in his big years even maybe more effective in some aspects of it. So we're really excited about that.

Q. What happened on the disconcerting penalty? COACH CARROLL: I found it disconcerting myself (laughter). You know, we make a shift in our line. Because it was so loud down there, we emphasized the call to make sure the guys heard it. The officials there thought that was what caused their tackle to move, to flinch. I don't think you could hear anyway. But they thought that's what it was so that's what they called.

That's the first time we've seen that. It's happened before on defense. I don't think I've of seen it on the kicking game, where they blamed it on the verbal call from the call linebacker. Those officials did say they are sensitive to that happening in their games, not in the kicking game, but they are tuned into it. And that's why they called it, thought something was wrong.

It wasn't deliberate. It was just a move at the front. And it's something we do on a regular basis so we have to be more careful with that.

Q. We have the impression you run more full speed, full contact practices than just about anybody around. Who or what was your inspiration for that?

COACH CARROLL: Well, trying to maintain a really high tempo of practice was really evident at San Francisco. Coach Walsh, Coach Seifert had maintained a really high tempo of practice. They didn't do as much didn't talk about the competition part of things like we do. That's just part of our thinking here. If you're going to perform at a really high rate on game day, you have to practice at a really high rate during the week. We try to go as close to game speed as we can every single chance we get, and whether we're in pads or no pads.

So we're trying to set the bar really high in our standards and expectations of the level of performance at practice. If you practice really well, you gain so many things. Not just that you can perform well, but you gain the confidence. If the coaches show the players where they are capable of performing the stuff that we're asking them to do at a high rate against really good players, they're successful at it, then they enter the game with the confidence that they can do it regardless of what's going on around them.

That's really the thought behind all of this, is you prepare at a really high rate, as close to game speed as you can, and that will carry over to the playing field. If you do it in really competitive settings, against really good players, then you're called on to have to play really well, you get your butt kicked. That's basically what we do.

Q. Then you're willing to accept what injuries might ensue out of those extra full contact practices?

COACH CARROLL: Well, if I'm willing to accept them? What happens happens, you know. Our guys are forced to be durable in a sense. They have to be hardened to make it through Tuesday and Wednesday's practice. You know, fortunately it hasn't been a big issue for us.

Q. Speaking of practices, with all the videotape talk, apparently a lot of practices around the country are closing down, being more private, you open it up pretty much. What is the philosophy? Are you worried about people steeling stuff or cheating?

COACH CARROLL: Well, sure, we're concerned about allowing people to watch practice that aren't supposed to, representative of other teams and all. But we scrutinize very strictly who's getting in and out of practice. I know that when I'm standing on the sidelines at a game, I can't tell what the heck is happening out there half the time. I know you guys can't either (laughter).

You know, if people are standing up on the cherry picker, on top of the buildings filming, you can see stuff. I don't find much energy towards being paranoid about what's going on on the practice field.

We scrutinize very clearly. I'm glad you guys think it's wide open, but it isn't. People don't get to watch practice. We don't want you talking on cell phones. We don't want you with cameras, stuff like that. The other side of that, I think our practices are an event to a certain extent. I think what we can add to it in terms of distractions only helps us. The more people the better, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't know how anybody else thinks about that. I don't really care. But I know that at our practices, it's like you're performing. That's what we're going to do on game day. The closer I can get it to that feeling, that sense, the more I'm going to do it. In that regard, the people help us coming to practice. And it certainly isn't a distraction. We're very used to it. You know, you never know who is going to show up. Sometimes you get surprised who comes to practice.

Q. Has Jeff Byers, with his ability to run up field, has that changed the character of the offensive line?

COACH CARROLL: It's added to it. Deuce Lutui was a great downfield blocker, great effort guy. Surprising for such a big guy. Doing it in the NFL as well we've seen.

Jeff is a really a high energy, high effort guy. That only helps your football team. He just will not back down. Every play he's going to run, chase, knock somebody down if he has half a chance to. That just adds to the example of giving full effort.

He was a fantastic effort football player in high school, the best we've ever seen. He's carried it over. There will be plays before the season is over where he'll have 40, 50 yards downfield leading guys. He does it in practice. He's already got out in front. When the chance comes, he's going to be there. We love what he brings to our offensive line, just our play in general.

Q. You always talk about the PAC 10 titles at the beginning of the year. Can you talk more about going for yet another one this year?

COACH CARROLL: Well, yeah, owning the Rose Bowl is something we would love to be able to do. We would love to go there every year if we could. That's a great challenge. You get there by winning your first game, winning your second game, just working your way through the schedule.

We don't spend very much time talking about that at all. We hardly ever talk about it. But our guys know every day they see it when they come off the practice field, that's the reminder that that is why we're working so hard, to win championships.

But talking about championships and all that stuff doesn't mean a darn thing if you don't practice really well and you don't play the game you got to play. So we don't spend much time on it, and it really doesn't factor into our conversations very much.

You get a chance to win that because you've played really well and there's an opportunity, then it comes up in that particular game during the year late in the season. Then it becomes noteworthy.

Q. In light of recent events, were people shaken up when Vincent Joseph was down?

COACH CARROLL: I think, sure. It's only natural. One of your guys is down, they can't get him up. They have to bring the stretcher out, all that stuff. Guys are very concerned about it.

I went out and realized, was told what the problem was, tried to convey that to the guys so they wouldn't be alarmed or overall concerned. You know, one of the things, the worst things, you see the players standing over them watching the guy. That's something I don't want them doing. They're not going to help the situation at all. They need to get back, getting their mind ready to go on. If you notice like this the game last week, we had quite a bit of time to get our guys focused and tuned into what was at hand, that was what was most important. We love Vincent, but they couldn't help him at the time. It got to a point where it was even getting cold standing around.

So we try to keep the juices flowing, keep the focus, keep their attention on what was at hand. In this situation, it was really a cool response by our guys, because they really jumped right at it. I think we scored in four or five plays after that.

You know, it showed again that they can return the focus when it's really important. That's a skill. It's a skill that you have to gain. We need those examples of being challenged and then having to come back. Things happen in a game. You have to return the focus that gets you the kind of play that you're worthy of. That was one of those challenges.

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