Pete Carroll-Mike Bellotti Talks About Saturday's Game At The Coliseum

Sept. 30, 2008

Pete Carroll: We're getting ready here with great earnest to get our game back on track. We have an enormous opportunity here coming back to the Coliseum with Oregon coming in, and a team that has just really, really looked impressive. In areas that we need to shore up, they're extremely capable and strong.

So we're back at it. We had a good practice yesterday to get back to business about this game plan. We gave it a little extra day because of the break. We're in full game mode today.

We look at this game as we look at other games. This is an enormous opportunity for us to get back in the conference. We have to find our ways to get our wins here to go ahead and get us moving. It couldn't be more challenging.

So Oregon coming in, coming off a huge win and some big, big games. Throwing up 300 plus yards of rushing after we follow up a game, we didn't play the run very well, really makes it hard on us.

We're going to have a couple situations that we'll deal with players as far as their health. But for the most part we're in pretty good shape. Rey's (Maualuga) the guy that's questionable at this time. He won't practice today and we'll wait to see what the doctors say. But (Brian) Cushing and Taylor (Mays) and those guys are back out there. You know, we need to make sure everybody's all right.

This has been an opportunity, is what this is. So we want to see our guys find our way to the focus that takes us right back to the way we're capable of playing. That's what we do. We've done this before and been in this situation.

I liked the way our guys responded yesterday, and we expect to have a really good practice today and see where we go from there.

We're going to try and find ways to keep them off the field and keep the ball moving on offense and slow down the offense that they've just been ripping with. See if that can't help us. And it has to start with the running game first.

I understand that they're going to start (Jeremiah) Masoli. They've had four quarterbacks that played for them already. So I know that those guys are all available.

Little different style from their guys, too. And if (Justin) Roper plays, he has a little different element than some of the other kids. So all of that adds to a very complex approach that we're facing, and we have to do a really nice job dealing with it. So on we go.

Q. Is (linebacker) Chris Galippo in game shape?
COACH CARROLL: He's been running for a long time. But in game shape, of course not. He hasn't played since last year. We're trying to throw him in there in practice situations to get him as real live work as we can. He practiced well last week. So he was really practicing last week like he was going to play. They gave him the okay this week.

So he's available to us. We'll go into practice today the next couple of days to figure out what is the best mix for us if Rey's not available. Really, we go in like Rey's not available right now.

So Chris plays his spot. Cushing's been backing up all along. Gives us a chance to do some things with Clay Matthews and also Mike Morgan has to get ready to go.

So we're getting close to figuring that out, but we don't have to call that yet, so we'll wait to see how the days of practice give us the information.

Q. Why did you feel you struggled with stopping the run?
COACH CARROLL: We didn't play well. We made a lot of just technique errors up front. It wasn't the complexities of their part of it. They executed really well. When we weren't right, they took advantage of it. The running back did a really nice job of finding the soft spots and was very effective against us.

We saw in the second half what we needed to do to fix the thing and did it. But it was too late for us in that game. They did a really good job of blocking us.

Things that we do fundamentally in most games didn't happen in some regards up front. So it got us out of whack. It gave them a chance to get a game.

Q. Did you run more three down linemen in the first half than in the second half?
COACH CARROLL: No. We just shifted some. I don't want to talk too much about what we did, but we shifted some things. Clay Matthews played more in the second half and did a really nice job in some areas and made some good plays for us. It's just being more consistent and more determined to dig the plays out. Because all that inside running game just kept pecking away at us. Just took us a while to make the points. We were making adjustments on the sidelines but it took us till halftime to really get it done.

Q. Is there anything as a coach that you get your team ready after a big loss?
COACH CARROLL: You're dealing with a couple different issues. You know, the mental aspect of what your team's feeling like is different than coming off a win. So you have to get them back to the truth of what happened. You have to get them dealing with what's at hand, not with what happened before. So those things come out in the conversation now, you know. So that's how we're doing it.

What we do change as those elements come out, but the rest of us go back to work as usual and try to get back on track. We have a lot of confidence with the way we've done things in the system, and the emphasis that we have from day to day. And we want to make sure we recapture that and not be off of that. As opposed to changing something, we want to make sure we capture the mentality that we've found successful for us overall the time.

Q. Do you think they're suffering a confidence problem now hanging on to the ball?
COACH CARROLL: At this point Joe (McKnight) knows he's more capable than missing a little screen pass. He misread two punts trying to catch the ball. The other play he just tried too hard. He was really trapped in the backfield and he tried to spin out and get away again. He got vulnerable and got the ball knocked away.

That's definitely something I've been dealing with Joe and we dealt with Reggie (Bush) for a long time, you know. To minimize the bad play, the yardage on a bad play. Just get out of it and go to the next one.

Sometimes the guys have a mentality that they've got to keep fighting to try to correct what's going wrong. They get exposed. Joe definitely has that mindset that he thinks he can pull it off and get away and get back out.

In that, you get hit from all angles and it's harder to take care of the football.

But we've been addressing that with Joe for some time just as we had to do with Reggie. There are certain guys that have that mentality. You have to try to break them down on it.

But that's something that we'll continue to deal with, you know. It's going to be in his nature to try to make something happen. So we're talking about it in some regards. Not exactly what you're talking about though.

Q. Can you talk about Oregon's offense, especially their run game, they've got a ton of points this season?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, just ripped. They have a very wide open attack. It is really kind of the epitome of the spread offense with the quarterback being featured as part of the running attack.

All of their quarterbacks that have run with the football, some more than others. But they have a lot of ways to get the ball in their run lanes that they want with a lot of different actions and motions and things. It's a very, very nice offense.

Jeremiah Johnson's always been a good player. The new kid, Blount, coming in from junior college has really given them another element. Jonathan Stewart was a heck of a football player. But this guy runs maybe more physical, in a more physical nature about him.

Jonathan, you know, he played on the edges maybe more effectively. But Blount really comes at and you breaks tackles and makes you miss. He has an attitude about him. It's a really nice aspect of the running game.

So they have the flash of the perimeter game, and they have him banging away at you. So it's a real nice attack.

Q. Were you surprised at all with the success they've had given all the injuries at quarterback?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, well, it's to their good fortune the running game has been so alive they haven't had to rely on the quarterbacks throwing the football. They still have thrown it well in a lot of yards, but they haven't needed them to throw much. They've run their way back into the games when they got behind and made their plays where the quarterback really wasn't exposed in terms of his youth and inexperience and all that kind of stuff.

They have ways to make it easy on the quarterback when they're throwing games. They throw a lot of screens and a lot of quick perimeter stuff that helps those guys.

I think it's because of the nature of their running game that they've been able to get by with the young guys.

Q. What do you have Mark Sanchez working on this week?
COACH CARROLL: Well, he's working on the stuff as always. He's just working on executing the offense and understanding what's going on. This is a different defensive style that he has to learn to read during the week's time. Make sure he picks up the pressures and the coverage changeups that they have.

Right now it's really just about studying Oregon's style of defense is really where his focus is. He's played solid football. He hasn't dipped in any way in my mind. He's done really well. But each game you have to adjust and take care of business, you know.

We needed to help him a lot more in the running game last week to give him his chances to throw the football the way we'd like to, but I think Mark's doing just fine.

Q. Did the offensive line take a step back?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we weren't as effective. We had two really good games. This one there was a lot of penetration, more so than in the other games. We got knocked off the line of scrimmage a little bit which really showed up and affected the pass protection. The protection didn't break down clearly, but there was enough push that it caused some problems for us at times. Mark (Sanchez) had guys at his feet and stuff that he didn't feel in the first couple of games.

Q. After a game like Ohio State and it seemed almost impossible to be emotionally ready for the next game? Did you see any of that?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, this game, looking at this schedule and seeing how the game should come off and hoping that we could get off 2 0, I thought that the Oregon State game would be a big challenge. Just going on the road and all that kind of stuff. I was hoping that they would be undefeated at the time so everything would be on track. They struggled a little bit in a couple of their first games.

I don't think we had the same edge. I don't think we did. I think it's very normal for that edge to be kind of in question. But how you play sometimes picks you back into the mentality and the edge that you need, and how they played, too.

We gave Oregon State a tremendous boost by their opening drive. Then they stopped us the first three times we had the football, and their place was going crazy. And the players, you could feel it, they seized that momentum. And we had to make some things happen to regain it, which you saw exactly happen in the third quarter. It just wasn't enough with the time allowed, we he couldn't get it done.

But I can't tell you I would like to say, you know, we were perfect and we were great. But I think we were challenged in that manner. It wasn't the same as it was from the game the week before. That's something that I take great pride in not allowing.

But all of my little ways and approaches and I didn't get it done. That's why when the whole team does not perform as well particularly up front and we're equipped well enough, then we're not right. So they got to take advantage of that.

The amazing thing about it in games, there's so many examples of this, and people say well, Geez, it's 18 and 19 year old kids. It has nothing to do with how old you are. It happens to teams in sports no matter how young or how aged you are. It's being able to play beyond sometimes what is there and what isn't there. We weren't able to do that early enough in the game.

What happened between them at halftime, you know? Snap your fingers and you see us come out ripping. So it was it took us a major hit in the head here to get going and get right.

I love the way we surged back. I couldn't have been more sick about the fact that we were faced with that and we had to do that. So that's how it goes sometimes.

It wasn't that we weren't approaching it and trying to work it. It's just I didn't get it done.

Kind of one of those notes you want to take a moment of silence for our comrade up in the Bay Area, you know. Tough deal for Lane Kiffin today. I don't know if you all picked it up, but Al Davis finally made the call up there. It's a tough start to your NFL career.

Q. Did you talk with him today?
COACH CARROLL: I haven't talked to Lane yet. I talked to other guys up there.

Q. Word is he's going to get an attorney to get the money out of him? COACH CARROLL: I hope that the league does the right thing and takes care of the situation properly and doesn't allow that to happen. But we'll see.

Q. We talked about Joe McKnight, is there any other running back that stands out to you as good or bad?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, Stafon Johnson played very well and did a really good job. And C.J. Gable did what he had to do. We've got to get the ball in their hands more. They both run with authority and do good stuff.

It was just a case of we ran the ball 22 times in the game. We didn't get enough carries. We were making first downs and third down conversions. Hopefully, that's not part of this game and we're moving the football the way we want to. Then we get the mix that we like.

Unfortunately, we he didn't get that. But Stafon was very effective. Moved the pile well, made some space for himself and just was very effective. Had a big run taken away on a penalty, too.

Q. In a perfect scenario, how many carries would you like?
COACH CARROLL: I don't know. How many times do we want to run it? We want to run it 40 times in a game. If you want to know that. It just depends, depends how it goes, you know.

I like rushing for 200 yards and 40 carries. Those kinds of numbers, when we play well, that's what happens. You know, so there's plenty of runs for everybody. We're not concerned when that happens.

Q. With the running game, it seemed when Reggie Bush was here, whoever had a hot hand usually got more of the carries. This year it seems a little more methodical with everybody getting X amount of touches. It does vary, but everybody kind of gets a look. Is there that mentality that you want to see who gets hot?
COACH CARROLL: Honestly, I think in the first three weeks here we're still searching it a little bit to see the right emphasis, right combination. It was too easy in the first two weeks really to be concerned about it.

But it raises, you know, the thought that what is the best mix for us? I really have always thought of this as kind of in terms of Reggie and LenDale (White), that you have Joe and the other factor whether it takes two guys or three guys until something shows differently.

We're really just allowing it to emerge and see what happens. You know, I don't have any problems with the first two weeks. The third week you really couldn't tell. We didn't get a chance to handle the football enough.

This is not a problem. It's going to work its way out in time. In my mind, anyway.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Sept. 30, 2008Football Press Conference

Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti

Opening statement

'I think we are playing alright. I think we are struggling a little bit with turnovers and it's probably a result of the youth and inexperience at quarterback. We are making the turn in that regard and getting better each week. We have some solidarity with Jeremiah Masoli. I think he will be the starter...two weeks or three weeks in a row and hopefully finish the game. We are getting Justin Roper back in some capacity. He was ill yesterday, but we expect him to practice today. It should be a competitive situation and our two freshmen, Darron Thomas and Chris Harper, have both stepped up and done some good things. There is still quite a learning curve. Our defense has played well, got some takeaways and has been good against the run...obviously, we need to continue that. Special teams has been a strong point for us. We need to continue that because when you play a talented team like USC, you need to find ways to seek an advantage on special teams.'

On quarterbacks and interchangable qualities

'Obviously, there is an experience factor. Jeremiah Masoli led his junior college team last year to the national championship. He came here in the summer and did not compete in spring football. He basically started fall camp as the newest guy of the group. Darron Thomas came last winter, graduated early. Chris Harper graduated early, came last spring so they both went through spring ball. Although as guys who their classmates were in high school, they learned a little bit...not as much as probably we all could have hoped. Nate Costa and Justin Roper were our holdover guys from last year and really the guys we thought would battle. Nate was our number one guy before sustaining an injury in practice. It was a non-contact thing, trying to decelerate and reinjured a knee that he had surgically repaired last year. Roper started, got knocked out with a concussion on the second play of the first game and didn't play the rest of the game. He came back and played well against Utah State and then sustained a knee injury, partial tear of his MCL against Purdue late in the game. So he is coming back now and had some opportunity to practice last week. He felt good, had no setbacks. He has a flu virus. The quarterback situation hasn't changed. It's Masoli, Thomas and Harper in that order. We are hoping to get Justin back and if he practices, he has a chance to play.'

On 'two-headed monster' at tailback

'We are excited. We had that same thing last year with Jonathan Stewart and Jeremiah Johnson. Jeremiah went down about the sixth game of the season and did not play against SC last season and Jonathan carried the load. This year, LeGarrette Blount has taken the place of Jonathan. He is a bigger, stronger back at about 238 pounds. He is getting better every game in this offense. Jeremiah remains sort of the feature back. He is a stop, start, quick shift guy and a great receiver out of the backfield. They complement each other very well in being a slightly different preparation for the defense.'

On defense

'(Patrick) Chung and (Nick) Reed are two blue-collar kind of guys. They come to work every day. They practice hard, play hard, they never want to leave the field. Nick has tremendous energy. He's not the biggest or fastest guy, but he led the conference in sacks last year and I think he is in the top three this year. He is like the Energizer bunny. He just runs and has tremendous amounts of energy. Patrick is the same thing. He plays everywhere, we would let him play on offense. We might give him a shot at that down the road. He returns kickoffs for us. Our entire secondary, Walter Thurmond is a kickoff returner...Jairus Byrd is a punt returner...Pat Chung is a kickoff returner so we are trying to get those guys touches because they are playmakers. Up front, the nice thing about Nick Reed is that we have Will Tukuafu on the other side and he has done a nice job. I think he is maybe number one in the conference in tackles for loss. They are up there and doing a great job. You can't attack one side without the guy on the other side making plays. The nice positive thing has been the development of Spencer Paysinger. He is our leading tackler, playing our Will linebacker position and he came on as sort of a guy that we didn't have an answer for at that position during the spring. He has done a nice job of taking over that position.'

On USC's loss last week at Oregon State

'I learned that the thing we talk about every week is that the best team doesn't always win, you have to play the best on that team. I think SC is a very talented team. Oregon State had a great game plan and executed that game plan well. They were very impressive. We are trying to find ways to take that game plan and implement it ourselves. I don't know if that's going to work...also, that on any given day anyone can beat anyone else.'

'I think USC is a very talented team. If you watch the first two games, they look like the number one team in the nation and someone that could go undefeated and not be pushed by anyone. I think they are still extremely talented and have so many weapons on offense, it's hard to talk about. Defensively, they are gifted. Their secondary and linebackers run and play so well that it's just one of those days for them. I think they play with pride and passion. They are very well-coached. It will be a whole new ballgame this week.'

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