Quotes From Dennis Erickson's Weekly Press Conference

Oct. 6, 2008

On if QB Rudy Carpenter can play this week:
'First of all, we need to get the OK from the doctor, and then, see how he moves out there. I'm not going to put him on the field unless he has the mobility to be able to move and throw. He has to be pretty close to 100 percent. We won't know anything about that until time goes on, so it's really at the point that it really doesn't need to be discussed until we see how he progresses in the next three days. Knowing Rudy, he's tough, and if he plays, it's because he is tough. If he can't go pretty close to full speed, then like I said, I'm not going to put him out there. That's why we have backup players.'

On what they do to prepare for USC's linebackers:
'Well, it's hard to prepare for something like that. You have your scout team and you try to give it as much of a look as you possibly can. They are downhill players, they're physical and they are fast. We just have to try to emulate them a little bit and it's hard. It's like anything; you do things with the scout team, then all of the sudden it becomes Saturday, and it picks up a lot faster. We've gone against ourselves and obviously we do that 9-on-7 and it gives us a little bit of an idea of what it is going to be like. They're good football players and they have a lot of them, so we just have to attempt to have some sort of a scheme where we can get them blocked occasionally.'

On if USC's schemes are the same as last year:
'Pretty much. They are very aggressive on both sides of the football. They came out last week against Oregon and threw the football with a great deal of success. Obviously they are pretty balanced and have a lot of skill at quarterback and wide receiver. Then, defensively, they are very aggressive. They are going to zone-blitz it and they're doing pretty much the same things that they've always done. I don't know why they would ever change because they have been really successful with it. That's what they teach. They are a very aggressive team that relies on being very physical and very fast. That's how they've been for about the last six or seven years. They haven't changed too much.'

On the possibility of Danny Sullivan having his first career start against USC:
'Well, we talked a little bit about it yesterday. That is what he has been working for. He's a very competitive guy. He studies, he takes turns all the time, he's prepared, and so it is just a matter of doing what you can do. Play within yourself, and obviously our game plan is going to include Rudy and him. We'll do the same thing. So, as I said, it's what he has been working for; to go down and have your first start in a college game against USC is very challenging. There is no question about that, but I really like him. He is very competitive and he knows what we're doing, so if that's the case, he will do a good job.'

On the type of quarterback Sullivan is:
'Well, it's kind of hard to tell. He hasn't played in a game. A lot of times, you are one in practice, then another in a game. He's pretty physical and big. He has a strong arm, his feet have really improved since I have been here, and he gets it off. Probably more than anything is that he really understands. He studies as much as any backup quarterback I've ever been around. Again, he's going to know what's going on. It's like anybody, it doesn't make a difference who it is, if it's your first start, whether it's a backup, or whether it's your first start your senior year, it's your first start. So I mean, there are a lot of things, the speed of the game, all those different things, which he hasn't seen obviously, and it's going to be the first time that it happens to him. He's very solid and like I said, he throws the ball real well.'

On the defense's performance against Cal:
'I thought our defense played well at times. From the time it was 17-0, we all talked about that, we put ourselves in a hole, which we talked about all week and that's over and done with. From that point, defensively, we played probably as well as the defense has played since I've been here. We ran to the football, played very physical, very aggressive, created a turnover, did a lot of things and took the run away from them. They had a lot of trouble running the football and it gave the offense the opportunities in the fourth quarter to get back in and possibly win the game. I thought it was a good effort. The bottom line is we have to be consistent with that. We can't be physical and play well like that occasionally. We have to do that every week. We are the type of team right now, as you all know, we're not on all cylinders offensively. So, our defense has to really step up and play like that all the time for us to have opportunities to win football games. That's where we are at right now and they know that. I look for them to play well. They are playing outstanding offense front, a lot of skill this week, but I'm happy with what they did from the second quarter on last week.'

On the state of the team:
'We are a team that has to get better all the time. We are where we are, so the biggest thing that we have to do, as a football team, is get better every week. In the next eight or nine weeks, however many weeks we have left, there are a lot of positive things that can happen to us. There are seven football games left. We just have to get better. I think that's the biggest thing. Continue to improve, continue to do what we believe in and continue to believe in being physical. Continue to try to run the football, continue to do the things that we as a coaching staff believe have been successful. The worst thing you can do is panic, and we just have to take our players and just continue to get better all the time. That's what we will do, there's no question about it. It's a good group of guys. Unfortunately we've had some loses, but we still have confidence in ourselves, so we are going to just take it every week and see where we end up.'

On the players' confidence:
'You have to remember that a lot of these guys won 10 games last year. It's not like they haven't won games. The team believes, and we have to understand what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are, play to them, and win games. There is only one thing that cures this stuff, and that's winning football games, so we have to do that.'

On the team maintaining focus:
'They're focused. They know what they have to do in practice. Nobody likes to lose, nobody loses on purpose, and nobody makes mistakes on purpose. They just have to concentrate, which they have been. We had a good meeting on Sunday and we will have a good practice tomorrow. The thing that we have is that we have developed habits that I believe are good habits. as far as practice is concerned and preparing for games and so forth. We just have to keep that. We have to keep that balance and just keep doing it.'

On USC's ability to maintain a high level of success:
'It's difficult. There aren't many programs that can do that. Obviously they do a good job of coaching. They were 6-6 their first year, and then they started having success. They recruited hard, they have good players and they do a good job at coaching them. They have a system that they believe in and they stay with it. There aren't many like it. You look at all the teams in the country and there are some ups and downs in all of those programs; it's just the nature of the game. USC has maintained that level.'

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