Pete Carroll Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 24, 2009

COACH CARROLL: First off, Happy Thanksgiving to everybody if we don't get a chance to see you here this week. It's a lot going on this week. It's very exciting. We're rounding out the end of the semester for our kids here. It's coming down to the end of this one, the end of the season with a great match up here with UCLA coming into the Coliseum. It makes it just events galore here so we're all pumped up about it.

We've had a really good week last week in preparation. We've got some guys coming back to us that are healthier than they've been. And we started off yesterday taking advantage of being a day ahead preparation wise and had a big practice yesterday. We're kicking into full gear here today.

We are meeting up with UCLA coming off a big upswing. They've had three big weeks, and I know they're feeling great about themselves and deservedly so. They're playing good football, and it's going to be a great challenge for us.

I think their defense has played consistently all year long. I think Kevin Prince gives them a chance to really move the football around, throw it around in a lot of different ways. He's been very effective and been a big factor for them throwing the football and moving enough to get the wins that they've been getting.

So we're excited about getting back to work. It's been a long time since we played last. It's time for us to get back at it. We will be kind of chomping at the bit here to get back on the play field. So we're looking forward to it.

We expect to have a very, very big week. The crowd, the fans, the people around the area are all pumped up about it as well. Hopefully, we'll have a great football game on Saturday night.

Q. Is UCLA really playing that well over the last three weeks or is it they've just been beating teams because of the schedule?
COACH CARROLL: The schedule is what it is. It's their turn to play those teams. They have been playing good football though. They've taken the ball away. They've been secure with the ball on the offensive side. They've played good, solid ball. Their special teams are in order.

They've given themselves to beat the guys that they're better than, and they're doing a nice job of that. The fact that they rebounded after the string of losses that they have is a testament that they've hung together and they've hung tough. You know, they're trying to finish this on a high note, obviously, and get into bowl games and all that kind of stuff, which I'm sure they're pumped up about it.

Q. Can you update Damian (Williams) and Michael?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, who was the second one you said?

Q. Michael Morgan.
COACH CARROLL: Yeah. Okay. Damian is really day to day. We'll have to see how much he can do today. He's going to try and find out what he can get done, and I don't much more on it than that.

All of the other guys, Mike Morgan, Armond Armstead those guys that were banged up are back in action and Allen Bradford's okay. Stanley's (Havili) okay. Anthony McCoy's okay. Let me see some of the names of guys. We're returning a lot of guys that have just been barely getting back. Blake Ayles is not making it back but for the most part we're in pretty good shape returning guys to this game.

Q. When you look at the film are you surprised to see the success that they have had against Arizona State?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, they did a nice job. You know, they were able to move the ball consistently. They didn't put it in the zone a lot. But they were able to move the ball against them.

Any time you play Arizona State it's a little bit of hit and miss, you know. You're not going to be able to get it consistently. They ran for 130 in the game or something like that and had a good, solid game. They were able because they were ahead to pound away at it. Just kind of work the clock and did a nice job of managing the game in that regard.

You know, Chane (Moline) ran real well. Tough particularly in the fourth quarter, you know, kind of run the game out and did a nice job with that. But they had a lot of shots at them. They played their head enough where they really could work the clock pretty good and feature the running game.

They did a nice job. It's hard for anybody to open up against Arizona State, and they weren't able to do that either I don't think.

Q. What jumps out to you about their defense? Especially they're number one in the conference in points allowed?
COACH CARROLL: They've been really consistent. They stuck with their scheme. They're real solid in what they're doing. They're active. They chase the football real well and the fact that they've been able to be big in the turnover area and get a lot of interceptions.

Rahim Moore has had a big year even turning the football over. That all plays into it so pretty good third down numbers for them in the turnovers and the consistent play gives them a really good, solid group.

Q. What is your take on the Pac-10 play this season for the 2009 compared to past seasons? What is your take on the overall play of Pac-10?
COACH CARROLL: Going in we thought it looked like a solid year. But I didn't have any idea that the young quarterbacks would all play so well around the league and be so productive. It's been another big year offense for the teams. Lot of points scored and all that.

I can't remember a year when the conference was more balanced, you know, than it is right now. It's very, very difficult. Just look at the games that have swung back and forth, you know. There are teams that have kind of almost reinvented themselves during the season and done some wonderful things.

Cal looked like they were in trouble early in the year, and they come back with big wins to finish up here. Arizona had a big push at the start. There's just been some really good football being played.

I think it's as tough a conference as any other. I think because of the nature of the offenses we would be very difficult for anybody else to play week in and week out. There are too many varied offenses with skill players and quarterbacks, running backs and receivers that can make things happen that would really challenge anybody's defense around the country.

It's just talk because we don't get to match it up. But if we did match it up, the advantage we would have because of the nature of the offensive balance and the style of it all. You know, this is not a conservative league. This is a very wide open conference. It's been very impressive.

I think Andrew Luck's play, the Arizona quarterback, those are guys that have just emerged as big time factors, you know. They've played great football, and Kevin playing. UCLA's had a great season when he's been around the injury thing.

So Matt's (Barkley) coming along. So I think it's a very, very tough conference this year. We'd love to match up and see who could win if we had a chance against SEC or any of the big conferences around. It would be fun to do that. But we don't get to, so it's just talk.

Q. You follow the other conferences?
COACH CARROLL: I don't know enough about those other ones, but I know there are a lot of points being scored here with a great variety of styles of offense. We're not stuck in the way about it. There's a lot going on here. It's been most challenging for us.

You can see it just in the Oregon Stanford game, and the Arizona Oregon game, and the Cal Stanford game...the big scores, big match ups. Everybody's playing solid on defense, too. It's the offenses that are so obvious to me.

Q. UCLA's Brian Price, is he scary on film?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, he's really big time. He's a big time draft pick. He'll be a favorite for the NFL when his time comes. Just judging from the guys that we've had here and how they've been able to be effective when they've gone on. He's got all of the right attributes. He's really got a great base and center of gravity that he's underneath guys that can penetrate, causes problems. There is nobody that can really handle him one on one. He has just about as many tackles. Maybe more tackles for losses that be he does otherwise. So he's a big play guy. He causes everybody problems.

Q. Yesterday at practice a couple of players got into a discussion about their favorite basketball players. Fans want to know who is your favorite basketball player? And with this being a rivalry week, how do things like this help keep things loose for Saturday night?
COACH CARROLL: That's really a varied question you just asked me there. Right now there is nobody better than Kobe (Bryant). He's extraordinary. I love to see him play against Michael (Jordan). That is what the debate is on our team. There are young guys and old guys liking one or the other.

That will never happen, obviously, but maybe wait until Kobe gets old enough and he's done playing, and Michael will still be waiting for him. Maybe we'll get a chance to see that.

The other question was?

Q. How do things like this help your team with big rivalry games?
COACH CARROLL: It's just part of it. The banter's always been going on. We showed Kobe's shot behind the backboard yesterday. That's kind of what stirred it up again. But that's part of the way we are. We're always having fun with what's going on and trying to stay current as much as we can.

As a matter of fact, we're very interested in the water buffaloes versus the lions. I don't know if you guys know about that. But those aren't the UFL teams, those are a little thing that happened on YouTube.

But it's all part of the fun. This is a very exciting week for us. We're tuned into the fact that we're playing cross town rivals and we're playing at home. It's a big deal here finishing well with the season. So our focus is very keen right now.

But that doesn't mean we're not going to enjoy it and have fun with it. That's the whole point. We're here to enjoy the heck out of it and win when we can. We'll find our ways, and that happened to be topical yesterday.

Q. Do you see any parallels of both teams playing with a freshman quarterback? Just kind of how the seasons have gone?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, sure, of course. You know, freshmen quarterbacks are playing. That's a parallel, I guess. It's cool that both guys are emerging, and both guys are going to be big factors. We'll get to watch them grow in the programs and grow in the conference. They're both going to be featured guys. It's just fun and exciting to watch.

Q. Does it have anything to do with some of the inconsistencies that both teams have gone through peaks and valleys?
COACH CARROLL: Well, it certainly is a factor. Of course it's a factor when you have new players playing. There is a learning curve. There are going to be issues. There are going to be times when they had wished they had known something that they fell prey to and all that.

You know, we're fortunate to have guys of this caliber playing for us, because they're really big timers. They're going to be fun to be around. They're going to be big time winners, I think. It will be exciting to watch the match ups over the years as it comes along. We expect nothing but great things.

Q. One of the biggest adjustments you're making from that Stanford game to this game?
COACH CARROLL: It's totally different teams in styles and emphasis of how they do things. You know, they're just not the same. But you have to always take care of the issues that showed up as weaknesses from the weeks before and knowing that your opponents are going to look at them. Their coaches are going to check out stuff that they see that looks vulnerable. So you have to fix those problems.

They run some of the same plays that Stanford ran...the off tackle stuff and the power play. They have that as a feature play of their offense. So we have to make sure that we shore those things up.

There are a number of things that have come up in the last month or so that we have to take care of. They have to see how we do it. It's all part of the game and gamesmanship of this thing. But there are specific issues a continuing emphasis on third downs on both sides of the football for us continues to be a theme that we want to work on and emphasize and spend more time on which we've done for weeks now. I think it's helping us. We'll see again. We're only as good as the next game coming up.

But there will be things that hopefully we'll put to rest as issues, you know, as we play this game.

Q. Last year's UCLA game was such an emotional game. You had them coming out of the locker room at halftime and there was a verbal altercation, if you will. Do you think this year's UCLA game could be a rallying point moving forward for the season for these guys?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, last year, that was just a spur of the moment thing that happened because of the music that was playing and all. It was nothing more to it than that.

This time around this is a big game for everybody. And for everybody that lives in southern California, it's a big game. We recognize that.

It is, of course, for our fans and our school and all of that as it is for them. You know, it's an opportunity to own something that's really precious here. When you have that win, it's a big deal, and it's fun, I love it. Don't want to give it up. It's too fun to be on that end of it.

So there is a lot going on here that's going to continue to be fueled. I don't know what's going to happen in this game. I'm sure they're wearing their blue jerseys, you know. That will be fun to see that in the Coliseum. I'm not sure. I would guess they would.

But I think it's just one of the special aspects of being part of USC. And the special aspect of being part of UCLA that you have this extraordinary classic rivalry right across town. You get it anticipate it all year long. Then you get to live with the results of it, too, which are a big deal. So it's very exciting.

Q. Have you heard anything from the NCAA about wearing the blue jerseys again?
COACH CARROLL: I think there is a ruling that it's okay now. That's my understanding. Is that right? Yeah, you have to make a request and that's it. We have nothing to do with it.

Q. Do you feel like (Matt Barkley) is getting worn down?
COACH CARROLL: He's playing a good football game. He's not had a lot of rest this year. He's played practically every snap for the season. This is a good break for him. I know he was laying around on the weekend. He took his days off and we rested him some last week to make sure. We have a number of guys we're attempting to get them rejuvenated physically, hopefully so.

Q. You seem like a guy that doesn't have many excuses for things. You know, it seems like do you think people have given enough credit to just how young this team is and how much you guys have lost?
COACH CARROLL: The question is do I think people have given us enough credit? I don't know who those people are but you guys. I know it doesn't really matter to on me. I mean, it is a young team. How could it not be, you know, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

We're reminded every weekend when (Brian Cushing) is killing in the NFL, and Rey's (Maualuga) making his plays and those guys have left here. Those are extraordinary players, and Clay (Matthews) and Mark (Sanchez) and a lot of guys that have taken on off. That's part of the transition. That's the normal order.

You know, you have to live with it and deal with it. Sometimes you can do it better than others. We've been able to survive it quite well over the years. I think it's obvious when Kevin Ellison who was a fantastic player for us is doing really well in the league, too. All of those guys, seven or eight guys that played for us last year that aren't there.

And that transition that I think we embraced it really well for a good part of the season. It looks like those guys are missed. Those guys were a big factor. So, that's part of it. There's no excuse to be made there.

You know, you're not going to get me to go there. But the factors that you deal with, and sometimes even when you've dealt with it really well, things challenge you. Injuries challenge you, and guys, you know, getting a chance to play and stuff like that, those factors that you can't count on and can't predict can weigh in as well.

It's not just the guys that left. Sometimes it's the guys that are coming in that aren't able to get to the front also.

But that's how it goes. It's exciting. To me it's exciting to try to meet those challenges. It's exciting to come up with the right solutions to quell the concerns and the issues and all that.

The number one question I think everybody asked us coming into the season about the quarterback and the linebackers. So you've seen how that's gone. We've transitioned to a freshman quarterback, and we've got new backers playing. We don't have a lot of them. So it's been, you know, in one sense you guys have been on it. Those that you're referring to, I think, as issues, but in the other sense we had a great start to it. We were scrambling around. We've hit some harder times now and we're trying to come back from that and finish really well.

Right now it's all about finishing. This is what this is about now. We have three opportunities to finish this season, and we'll make a difference in how we feel about this regardless of what's happened before. So we're going to try to make some noise here and have some fun doing it, and take it as far as we can.

Q. How hard has it been to get your guys one loss you could still be in a BCS bowl, two losses maybe. The third loss at that point your goals have changed, because you realize the national championship is probably out of reach. How hard is it to realign the guy's goals and get them to buy into it?
COACH CARROLL: I think it's maybe hard to express this clearly where everybody understands it the way we see it. But I don't ever talk about the BCS. I don't talk about anything about those games that are out there and those match ups and rankings. We never talk about it. To me it's a waste of time.

It's at the very end of the season, then it's topical. You take a look and accounting of where you are. But in the meantime those are not the dwelling points, you know. So when it looks like those aren't options that might come to pass, those aren't topics.

Now are the kids thinking about it and talking about it in the locker room? Sure. It comes up. That's part of it. But it's never been our focus. Our focus is about maximizing opportunities and doing the best with what we have and taking it as far as we can. That discipline, to focus in that manner is something that's really helped us over the years. It's helped us deal with the highs and the lows and the challenges and the computers. You name it, all that stuff that's happened.

It's kept us on point with a great level of consistency. When you get smacked around a couple times like we have this year, all of that doesn't mean a whole lot to anybody. But it's still that discipline and mentality that allows us to come back to order and hopefully realize how good we can play and stuff again. Then we'll see what it is.

Talking about bowl games, I have no idea where that is right now. I don't want anybody else figuring that out. We don't need to. We need to play this game and have a really good day to day to demonstrate those abilities that demonstrates the focus that allows us to play as well as we're capable. That's how we think and how it works.

So it probably enters into the conversation, but they're not hearing it from me. They never have. And we're not backing off anything. We'll see how far we can go this weekend, and that's how we do it.

Q. Did you see the Hail Mary pass interference at the end of the Lions-Browns game?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I did. It was a legitimate penalty. Back, you guys don't know this, but we were playing the Bills in New England years ago with the same situation. Terry Glenn gets shoved in the end zone, you know. There is no time left on the clock and the exact same thing happened.

Wade Phillips was the head coach at the time. They were livid over the call because that call never gets made. And it was legit and all that, but they didn't want to admit it at the time.

So we get one play from the yard line, no time left on the clock and all that thing. I think I've told you this before. It was the exact same scenario. And we threw almost the exact same play to get the touchdown and win the game. The thing I didn't see though did they have to kick the extra point? Did the other team stay on the field?

Q. Yeah.
COACH CARROLL: See, in our deal we didn't need the extra point to win, so the Bills took off. And Adam Vinatieri had to kick the extra point. Did I tell you guys this before? Adam Vinatieri had to kick the extra point. And we had to get everybody to come back out of the locker room and everybody left.

And the official said the game's not over until you kick the extra point. So I told Adam, 'You'll never hear the end of it this if you miss this one and they don't have the defense out there. So just catch the snap, run it in and we don't have to go through that.' So that's what happened and I get hammered for running the score up, you know. That's the truth. That's the truth. (Laughing) so, anyway.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
COACH CARROLL: Did you notice how I handled that whole go-for-two thing? It didn't bother me a bit. What else we got here?

Q. This is obviously a game where there are so many players on both sides who know each other. Emotions usually serve a player well. Is there a fine line between corralling that emotion?
COACH CARROLL: Yeah, sure is. I've already addressed it and started the conversation about that. There are so many familiarities, you know. The players, guys they went to school with, guys they played with, All Star Games all of that, coaches that we know. There are all of those relationships that can enter in. To me they've always enhanced kind of the focus and intensity of the match ups when you know people.

And I've always said to you that I'd like to play my best and beat my friends the most, you know, just because I care that much about them and want to show him that kind of respect towards them.

In that regard it does to me, it can direct your focus, your attention, fuel you a little bit. But it can become a distraction. That's not the factor that we normally play with. So we don't change the factors of how we prepare and all that. So we have to deal with that and not get caught up in it and allow it to be an issue.

The fact that some guy may be looking forward to hitting one of his old buddies you know. Instead of doing what he's supposed to do, he's chasing somebody on the field and all that stuff. So that can happen. It's an example of it.

But that kind of thinking, putting your mind somewhere else than what's your job is really the issue. We deal with that at all times. This is a special case of that that we would not feel if we were playing out of conference, you know.

We play Ohio State, we don't know that. We don't know those guys. Here it's a different deal. We've addressed it, and talked about it. We are trying to make some sense of it so we do it really well. It's definitely an issue though.

Q. With the momentum, how big is this game?
COACH CARROLL: I think it's always an issue. It's always an issue to be on top of this rivalry. We've enjoyed it for the most part. It's been, you know, it's been, like I said, enjoyable. It can be a factor. It might be a factor in a couple of kids. I don't know.

I don't know if that's the reason people should pick schools, you know. But certainly it does factor in. It does give bragging rights and give you a chance to talk on one end of it. There are issues with that. That's a legitimate deal.

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