Pete Carroll-Tyrone Willingham Talk About Saturday's Game At The Coliseum

Oct. 28, 2008

An interview with:COACH Pete Carroll

COACH CARROLL: Well, I understand you guys have already heard from Tyrone Willingham. Pretty unusual situation I'm sure for those guys up there. It doesn't do anything to us, the fact that he'll be finishing out this season. Although, we expect it will be an emotional outpouring I would think from his team, his players, efforts to show good things and try to get a good win, have some good stuff happen.

For us, this is huge, get to come home to the Coliseum. We have a couple weeks to play here, which is exciting and fun, all that. It's Homecoming coming up. For all that brings, I'm learning as we go about Homecoming. But just that added part of the celebration will make this weekend fun.

We have some real clear thoughts about what we want to do. We know we're right in the heart of the PAC 10, right in the middle of this thing. We've got to keep moving forward, to improve. We see some areas that are really important to us, in particular the consistency on offense is something we're really striving for. I think there's no mystery to it. We got guys that are working really hard in all phases of our football team. We're really thrilled about the intensity and the toughness and the effort that we're bringing. But we have to play better and smarter. We have to find ways to accelerate the process of becoming experienced, making really good decisions when it comes time to.

We'll continue to work on that. We'll continue to help Mark Sanchez along as he's developing. He's playing terrific football. He's had a great season up to now, but he's got a lot of areas that he can continue to grow at and become a seasoned veteran, decision maker, all of that. That's all going to happen. You can't stop it from happening. He's too sharp. He cares too much. He works too hard, all that. We need to help him along the way as best we can. There's responsibility on all of us. It's not just the quarterback.

So we have to continue to go back again. We had the penalty problems again this last week that were really slanted and slid against us. We gave up 10 penalties in the game. Our opponent only had one. We have to do way better than that. There's a number of areas that we'll continue to emphasize. They are still somewhat similar. We've had a couple face mask penalties again, real quick ones, but they still were legitimate. I'm not saying anything about the calls. We just have to do better and overcome some of our own problems with that.

We'll continue to emphasize the football. The ball being loose in the fourth quarter was really near disastrous. Huge emphasis for us again. So we'll work hard about that, making sure that the point is clear, even more so with the situation in the game, so if we can avoid the kinds of things that can put you in a position to lose a game, where you can lose a game is really just by giving it up.

We've got a big surge again for us here to get back at home. We're going to stay in California here for the rest of the season, as we see it. Like to start this thing with a real good performance here at the Coliseum at Saturday.

That about covers it all.

Q. You mentioned the emotional outpouring. Can a team really go one or two ways when a coach is fired midway through the season, kind of like a lame duck?
COACH CARROLL: I think a team could go one or two ways, yeah. I think with the leadership that they have and the strength of Tyrone, the way he's always handled his teams and all, we've seen him in different settings, Stanford, Notre Dame. They're going to be tough. They're going to bring their best. He's an incredible guy. I know he's affected all their young guys' lives through the recruiting process and building of their program, all that. I know I'm sure they have a really strong feeling about representing and doing a great job for them.

So I think that's the way it's gonna go, I would guess.

Q. How well have you known him over the years?
COACH CARROLL: Not real well. Just through our meetings and stuff. I visited him when he was at Stanford when I was out the year after New England. So I've been in contact with his crew all along. We've gone against each other a number of times. Have respected his work, the play of his teams, recruiting, all of that. At the league meetings and stuff like that when we get around the most.

Q. Damian Williams' condition?
COACH CARROLL: He's supposed to go. We're going to take care of him during the week. He didn't get any worse. But he's sore, you know. Bumped a shoulder again as he landed on the ground on the sidelines. But he feels okay and we're going to not hit him during the week. Let him practice, get ready, try to get as much time between his hits to get him ready for this weekend.

I think the only guy from last game is Averell Spicer, who has a pretty solid sprained ankle. It's going to take a bit to get him back. We'll know more about that tonight.

Q. How did it work out with the offensive linemen?
COACH CARROLL: The guys came back in. Butch Lewis and Zack Heberer both came back in and played in the rotations. Nick Howell and Alex Parsons, all four of those guys played on the right side. As we came out of the game, we felt like the competition is still on. We'll battle again this week and see how the week turns out. They'll all play again. They all deserve play time, all that.

Nobody took over the spot and just owned it. So with that, you know, we're going to stay like we were last week. Those guys were just coming back out of the injuries. But Zack did some good things. Butch did some good things. All four guys were accomplishing pretty good stuff in the game. No reason to change it at this time.

Q. Do you ever talk about your team about November, the amazing record?
COACH CARROLL: I wouldn't refer to it as the amazing record. No, we start talking about the finish, you know. The finish is underway. We're into that already. You're past the halfway point now. Finishing in everything we've ever done in this program has been of the utmost importance, really from Coach Carlisle's efforts in the off season program about drills, days, weeks and months of conditioning, all of that. Finishing everything that we do has really been a mantra for us.

Right now we kick into that mode for the end of the season as it approaches. The finish is underway. That's kind of how we talk. But other than that, no. I rarely talk about numbers and all that kind of stuff.

Q. Was that Stafon Johnson's finest moment, do you think, all around game?
COACH CARROLL: I loved his game. I loved the way he played. I couldn't wait to talk about it in the postgame locker room because there were so many different ways he contributed, and he just was tough, stood out. The punt returns were excellent...running the football. The two great blocks he had in pass protection. He caught the pass for a first down. I just thought he was kind of the man on that day.

It was exciting to see him step up and take that role. It's been exciting. Joe did it a couple weeks ago. I know it's unusual it happens like this, but it does. We've learned to just go with it. This happened to be his game.

That's to no fault of anybody else. I think C.J. Gable was cranking, ready to go. He'll be integrally involved in this game plan. We had meant to, but it just kind of went Stafon's way and left it that way as the game kind of unfolded.

But, yeah, he played really well. We needed him. We needed everything he did. Just jumped out, stood above the rest in that game.

Q. The touchdown pass block, he had to wiggle around Sanchez.
COACH CARROLL: He had to pick up the blitz, an extra blitzer from the other side. His protection was on this side. He had to kind of scoot underneath. Then to catch the guy just right like that and to avoid disrupting Mark, as well as Mark's play. Mark's play, to feel all that happening so close to him, stay cool, deliver a great strike, that was a great play by both those guys.

A lot of confidence from Mark on the part of Stafon to pick the guy up, to get it done, make the block. Then step up and deliver the pass, too. The rest of the protection that held up during the pressure, it was a really exciting play, a great play.

Q. (Question regarding Jake Locker.)
COACH CARROLL: Jake's a great football player. I thought that his freshman year, I don't know if I made this comment in here or somewhere, but I thought he was the best freshman to enter the PAC 10 since I've been here. I thought he was the most impressive single football player to come in the conference. He's a great player. He's talented. He's a leader. He's tough. He'll take the hit when he has to to make the play. I just admire the heck out of that guy. It's just been unfortunate he's been banged up so much.

It's rare that a guy can control the game as much as he did. He basically did it by adding, with the throwing game, his ability to run. He's really fast. He's really tough. So you got all that. There just aren't very many quarterbacks like that. He's playing like Tim Tebow, that kind of effect, that kind of style. He's the focal point, controls the game. You can't take your eyes off him when he's playing out there. Knowing he's a great baseball player, you can kind of just see it, he's got it all.

I would think he's got a great future for them. The hard part of his playing is he hasn't been able to stay clear of the injury issues. If he is, he would make a big difference on that football team. He'd make a big difference in the conference. They'd beat people because he was out there, I think. I don't mean to put that much pressure on the kid. I just think he's that good.

Q. When you look back at how well they played against BYU earlier in the season, you look at how Washington has changed since that time, do you look at most of that because of Locker's absence or other things?
COACH CARROLL: I think it has a tremendous amount to do with him. I think he's that significant a part of the program. He's been a redshirt guy, though this is his third year. All those guys know him, have grown up with him. He's been the star and the leader, the play maker, the guy that can solve the issue. You lose that guy, he's just that significant.

That's what I'm saying, I think he's that good of a player. He stands out above anybody. I'm sure there's other guys that could challenge it. But in my opinion I thought he was the guy that was the most obvious change maker, the guy that could really shift the whole game by himself.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Washington Head Coach Tyrone Willingham

'It's always a very difficult thing for any coach to look at ending his tenure at a university so that is a very difficult circumstance where that it would be terminated at the end of the season, so therefore we will coach `til the end of the season and then our administration will look at another direction or begin that process of looking at another direction immediately for the head coach and probably much of the staff also.'

'Their (the team) reactions will be always varied, but hopefully what we'll be able to do is really galvanize one reaction and come together as a football team and be prepared and give great effort, great energy and great focus to our next opponent. We're well aware of how talented and good they are and how well they've played before.'

'When you are 0-7, close doesn't get you anything. We've had some games that we've done things well, but we've never done it in unison. We've never had offense, defense and special teams really all performing at the same high level at one time. And that will be one of the things we will be seeking to see how we can get all of those areas to get together and perform well. I think the football team will find a way to regroup and challenge itself to be better than this here.'

'We've been very pleased with Ronnie Fouch. I don't think there is any question that Jake Locker is a fantastic quarterback, fantastic man, and a wonderful leader for our football program and it is almost immeasurable his loss to our program. But we enjoy what Ronnie has stepped in and done, in his own play in many cases he has given us an opportunity to be successful. Where we haven't stepped up is the other areas to give the protection to catch the balls to do all the other things we need to do to make the entire offense to run smoothly.'

On team defense
'This is probably one of our real areas of struggle and we've showed some signs of being solid at times but we've unfortunately given up big plays and big plays have allowed our opponents to really separate themselves from us and not allow us to be able to stay in the football games so we're working hard on eliminating those plays, those angles, those decisions that have been costly in those situations because if we can eliminate those and make people drive the football and its amazing the difficulty that arises because usually they will make a mistake, you will make a good play and all of a sudden you have a way to stop a drive and keep them off the board.'

'This game is going to be a challenge of all the things that are surrounding it, but the number one challenge of course is USC itself. They are very talented in all areas and I think coming out of last week's ball game I think Coach Carroll's comment was that the defense willed them to success. They run well, they are very physical, they cover the mistakes of one guy with their outstanding hustle and a very difficult to isolate or find anything that their defense doesn't have the ability to stop. Basically, we know how talented they are. The receiver group, the offensive line, the quarterback and the running backs; it's a real challenge in all areas to kind of get a handle on how to stop them.'

'I think in some aspects they are still learning. I don't think they are all the way there yet and to me that is kind of frightening because when they get there it's going to be one heck of a team to deal with and that probably has a bit more to do with the offense than the defense but you can see some really good things from the offense but I think they are still kind of finding themselves in a sense and that is very difficult to think about and deal with.'

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