Pete Carroll Talks About Saturday's Rivalry Game At UCLA
Dec. 2, 2008
THE MODERATOR: I know you're all disappointed this is the last Pete Carroll press conference of the year. Despite all that, we'll continue.
COACH CARROLL: We'll continue serving lunch here for the next few weeks, just so you guys can get over it (smiling).
On the heels of a big win over USF last night...the basketball team, fired up, Trojans are on a roll here, getting going.
This is a really cool week to finish off the season. Last week, when you have a chance to play your big rivalries at the end of the season back to back, it just adds to the excitement and the fun, the buildup to the finish of the season. So we look at this opportunity now as truly a conference championship opportunity for us. So, as we have done, we're going to go at this with everything that we have and put together a great plan in all phases and try to get ourselves a win here at the Rose Bowl and see if we can't finish on a really high note.
I love the way we got the chance to finish here at the Coliseum for the seniors. This is officially their last time out. We're going to try to do everything we can to make the very most of it.
I think all of the normal issues about playing your crosstown rival and all that are up this week. I think all the questions and stuff that our players will be asked are all legitimate. This is a great rivalry. This is one that is so close to home, even in home rivalries, with people who went to both schools, all that, I think it makes it really fun. It's a thrill to be part of it. We hope to make it a great event and have a lot of fun during the week as we prepare.
Q. Can you talk about wearing the (cardinal) uniforms.
In conversations over the years with other coaches, it was there, but it never really happened. So there's an issue, you know, in that you have for whatever reason, there's a rule against doing this. We're going to get assessed a timeout in the beginning of the first and second half to do it.
But to make this move, you know, I'm just willing to go ahead and make the statement that we want to go for it. I hope everybody understands. This is also an invitation of course to UCLA to do that when we play here as well. I don't know how they'll handle that, but I would think they're considering it.
Also it's a statement for us for other rivalry games around the country. Maybe this fits their setups, too. They might like to do it.
It always looked awesome. It was just a part of the matchup and the spectacle, kind of playing for rights here in Los Angeles and in Southern California. So hopefully everybody will get something out of it. Maybe I'm getting in trouble by doing this. I don't know. But we're going to do it anyway and we'll see what happens.
Q. Have you actually talked to Rick (Neuheisel) about that? He was talking about the timeout situation, that he thought it was fine that you would get penalized and he would take one immediately to offset it. He said if you were going to do it in the second half, it gets a little dicey.
Q. If they did, would you do the same next year?
Q. Do you normally take all your timeouts allotted to you or not?
It could be a problem, obviously. But we're going to try to do everything we can to avoid it.
Q. Why would there be a rule against it since for TV it would be nice to have the two color uniforms?
Q. Is this something the PAC 10 can petition you don't get penalized through the NCAA?
COACH CARROLL: I don't know that. I don't know the answer to that.
Q. Are there any other obstacles, say a yardage penalty you're expecting UCLA to decline or...
Q. Obviously it didn't have a great effect on the Notre Dame game, but what happened to the plan to let the tailbacks play?
Q. Does this game remind you at all of two years ago, 10 1, so much to play for? Not too many people saw that upset coming.
That's been in my mind from the Texas game, from that game, the Stanford game, any games that we've lost. You know, so you do everything you can to work to not allow that to happen, try to play your best.
Q. In the last couple years have you ever really figured out what happened in that game? No one really saw that coming.
You know, if you remember back to that game, like some other games when we've struggled, we struggled early. We didn't convert on a couple third and shorts, third and short, fourth and short. You know, you make those first downs, it's first down on the 30 yardline, whatever, the momentum of the start of the game allows you to get maybe on the board and get some points and it changes everything.
You know, really, the format of that game was reminiscent of the Oregon State game. Same kind of thing happened, although we played much better on defense that day. That can happen any time. DeWayne Walker is a really good football coach. He knows what he's doing. He has had tremendous success. He's got a lot of stuff up his sleeve he can pull out. He's got a great background in style of defense that can give you problems. They played great last week against Arizona State. You can't tell by the score, but the defense played like crazy in that game. They looked loaded up, fired up, well schooled, great intensity, all that. That's what gives any team a chance to beat somebody. So we have great respect for what they're doing over there and what they're capable of doing and know they have it in them to put together a game that can knock us off. We're going to do everything we can to not let that happen.
Q. You mentioned the phone call with Rick Neuheisel earlier in the year. How long have you known him? Do you have any relationship outside of football?
Q. Do you think people will start to look at this game as a rivalry between the two of you?
Q. You mentioned the other day after the game the seniors won the Pac-10 Conference every year they were here, beat Notre Dame every time they were here. They didn't beat UCLA every time they were here. Is that the rallying cry?
We don't need rallying cries. We don't need external stuff from the past or any of that kind of stuff. We don't operate that way. This is a chance for us to finish off a season in great fashion and it's a championship opportunity for us to win our conference outright. That's what our whole design is set up and structured to pursue. So we've fortunately put ourselves in position to get that done, and now we got to capitalize on it. We won't talk about last year, years in the past, when Gary (indiscernible) was playing, all that stuff. We're not going to that...doesn't matter. Those were great games at that time. We love them, respect them. I loved watching them when I was growing up. But this is not what this is about to us. This is about right now.
Q. Marc Tyler came in and ran so well. Would he have been that effective at first?
I think he would have been effective early on, too. He's a really good player. He's just getting going. You know, Marc has had a tremendous amount to overcome with his injuries. He's full speed. He's been healthy for about, you know, almost two months now, which is the longest stint that he's had in the two years.
You know, he's making the pitch for himself, for the competition that comes up in the bowl preparation time, in the springtime for next season. He's going to be right in the middle of it. He's the biggest, strongest guy that we have, and he's just getting started. I'm really excited about him.
You can see, he's got the shake 'n bake to him. He's got style to him. He's a really good catcher...he's got great hands. He's more than a willing blocker. He's a very capable blocker already at this stage. He's a well rounded football player that's going to figure in. I'd love to see him play more in the last couple games here.
Q. What makes Taylor Mays so effective? Where does he rank on free safeties?
He brought in some great attributes. He learned a tremendous amount from Kevin Ellison. Kevin taught him how he could study the game, how he could carry himself as a football player here. He's benefited from that. He's caught up with Kevin. They play side by side now. He's a vicious hitter, as well. When you run that fast and you weigh 230 something pounds, he's over 230, and you're a willing hitter, you're going to bring it. And he does that.
There's a lot that goes on in his position that you don't see that he deserves credit for. If you think about the last two seasons or the last three seasons, how many times somebody's taken the ball, thrown it over our heads down the middle of the field, you can't remember because it hasn't happened. He's been incredible at giving us consistent play on the deep end. It goes quietly in some regards, but people don't even try.
So that's a big factor for any defense to have that aspect solidly in hand. So he's been a great player for us. And he knows, too, he's still learning, he's still growing as a player. He's really picked up his play making here in the second half of this season. I think he's really confident in letting it out. You're seeing great play from him. I can't imagine anybody playing better middle safety, deep safety than he is anywhere in the country.
Q. Is he the fastest guy on the team?
Q. What does he run?
Q. Interceptions aren't the only thing?
Q. Talk about where this game ranks in your eyes about the great college rivalries, a game that you look forward to every year?
All of that taken into account, you know, as well as just it's championship time, it just makes it a beautiful event for college football and for our area in Southern California.
Q. Can you talk about what you've evaluated of Kevin Craft?
But, you know, they're trying to find a way to get him to fit into the offense and complement the rest of it. They're working hard at it.
Q. You had some great defensive performances in individual games through the years. When you look to tape, the game against Notre Dame, is this as good as you've had?
So I don't think it's that much different than other games that we played. We've had a few shutouts during the year and all. I think respecting Notre Dame, Coach Weis, all his background, all that, I think it's a great accomplishment for our guys.
Q. How do you handle the two straight rivalry games?
Q. Do you have trouble with the emotional impact of the Ohio State game, the emotional impact of the senior's final game? Are you going to spend any time dealing with that aspect of it?
It's the last game for the seniors. It's the last game for the whole team, the last time to go out for the next, whatever, almost two months. In that, guys can look at it like this is their last opportunity to do things, make plays they haven't made, all kinds of things can come up.
The fact that there's a lot of personalities on the other team that our guys know, they grew up with, all that, that always adds to the kind of relationship of the game with the other team that's different than other teams.
So all of these issues, plus coming off a big game, going into a big game, and it's a championship opportunity, I mean, all of those things start to add up as added elements that, even though each game is a championship game to us during the season, this one now is the last one of them. So it has some additional issues that we have to deal with.
So I started yesterday right in on it. I'm going to try to make clear to these guys so that we can practice really well. That's the whole point, practice really well. If we get that done, we're most of the way home to having a chance to perform really well. We have to keep the conversations out of our heads and be in the competitiveness of the day's work. That's what allows to you add up the elements that give you a chance for a good performance.
But there are some issues with this, yeah. It's a unique rivalry and all that. We can't ignore that. We have our ways of dealing with it, and I hope we do it really well. We'll find out.
Q. What is the status of fullback Stanley Havili?
Q. What is the status of safety Kevin Ellison?
Q. Were you pulling for Oregon last week? Were you aware of what was going on while you were playing?
It didn't really factor into anything that was going on. I was kind of surprised at the magnitude of the score. I can only think about Mike Riley up there with a great chance at home, all that, they just couldn't slow them down. It must have been so disheartening to them, all that was riding on that thing.
Yeah, you know, so... It didn't really sink in that, okay, something had happened with that till we got in the locker room, to tell you the truth.
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