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    USC, Penn State Dec. 28 Press Conference Quotes

    Dec. 28, 2008

    USC - Press Conference Quotes
    December 28, 2008
    Los Angeles Downtown Marriott

    Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian
    On Penn State's Defense...
    "They don't do a bunch of different things but what they do they do really well. They're a veteran group. I love their secondary. They have four seniors back there. They know how to play with one another. They communicate really well. When you get in the obvious passing situations, they know how to get after the quarterback, which can cause a lot of problems. They play zone in the back end, they keep their eyes on the quarterback and then the front four really get after the quarterback. There is a really nice combination of pressure on the offense."

     

    On Penn State's secondary...
    "The whole back end is extremely savvy. They keep their eyes on the quarterback. They recognize route combinations when they're coming. They react to the football. They jar the football out. There are no easy catches in traffic. They're impressive to me."

    On Quarterback Mark Sanchez...
    "Nobody prepares more than Mark, mentally and physically. He does a great job off the field. First guy in, last guy out. He works extremely hard and takes care of himself. I think he's a tremendous leader. These kids love him. These kids want to play with him. He's an enthusiastic, infectious leader. On top of that, he's really talented. I think the drive and the will to win really pushes Mark and that makes him a great player."

    On his time at USC...
    "It's been a special place to me. The last seven to eight years of my life have been here and it's been a great run. We have a lot of great wins and a lot of great times. I've learned an unbelievable amount on and off the field. I've grown as a coach. It's going to be hard [to leave USC], but hopefully we can win one more time."

    On head coach Pete Carroll...
    "He's been a tremendous mentor to me. He's been somebody who's, on and off the field, pushed me, driven me to become the best coach, mentor, father. All the things that are encompassed in becoming a head coach. He's been a tremendous mentor to me to be prepare for that step. To say one thing would be hard to do."

    Quarterback Mark Sanchez
    On Penn State's defense...
    "They're definitely good. They're nothing like we've seen before. We've seen them on film. They make plays in the secondary and in the front seven. The most unique thing about their secondary is that they are all seniors.They've seen a lot of ball and they've played a lot of ball together. They're going to be a solid group and a great challenge for me and the wide-outs."

    On preparing for Penn State...
    "During the season we've only taken a couple sacks, comparatively so. Our line has done a great job all year and I don't anticipate them doing anything other than that. We're preparing for them like we've prepared for anyone else. We don't want to make them any different. We want it to be just a football game. It's no disrespect to Penn State. We know they are a formidable opponent, but we need to prepare the way we know how and Coach Carroll has a knack for preparing us for these big time games on a national stage like this. I think we'll be just fine."

    On the dynamic of Penn State...
    "These guys are special. They just fly around. I've seen their offense on film. They're just explosive. I've seen their highlights. I know that they have speed. I know they fly to the ball. I don't want to categorize them as being just another team at all. They're something special in their own right. They'll be a fun challenge for us on game day."

    On USC's trio of tailbacks...
    "It's a treat. You know what each guy brings to the table. Joe [McKnight] is obviously a speedster. You want to get the ball in his hands as soon as possible. He's so explosive and has that game breaking ability. Stafon [Johnson] has been the running back with some of the best vision. He really sets up his blocks. He's not quite as fast as Joe, but he makes some big time runs and makes guys miss. Then C.J. [Gable], for as wirery as he might look and as skinny as he looks, he can hit. He can deliver blows and then he'll hurdle somebody. They're all very special and they bring a lot to the table. They really help our offense."

    Wide Receiver Patrick Turner
    On Penn State's secondary and USC having a size advantage against their secondary...
    "I've been watching film on them. They do a really good job with their schemes. You can tell that they are an experienced group and they are comfortable back there. We have a little size advantage, but they are really good at what they do. We feel it will be a good match-up."

    On the pressure Penn State's defense puts on offenses...
    "They do like to bring pressure on certain downs. We just have to make sure we have all 11 guys on the same page when that happens. Whether it's a hot route or a running back picking up the blitz, we need to be ready."

    On Penn State's defensive speed...
    "I feel like they have pretty good playing speed. They're a physical group. It is going to be a physical game. They're not scared of hitting anybody. That's the biggest thing I've seen so far, they're a physical defense."

    On playing for head coach Pete Carroll...
    "It's awesome. The coaches rub off on the players. When you have somebody that competitive and that energetic leading the team you can't help but get excited. He's good at what he does and he rubs off on everybody. He's basically a reflection of the team."

    Tailback Stafon Johnson
    On Penn State's defense compared to other defenses USC has faced...
    "This is one of the best defenses we will face this year. I think they are second behind our team in rushing yards allowed. Just in general, they have a great football team from all aspects. They have a defensive player of the year runner-up in [Aaron] Maybin. Their linebackers are great as well as their corners. We really have it cut out for us."

    On playing in the Rose Bowl Game...
    "It feels good to have this opportunity. I never thought I would be playing in the Rose Bowl Game as a young kid, so it feels real good."

    On playing against a Joe Paterno coached team...
    "He's been around for a long time and he's been winning for a long time. I was really happy when I heard he was going to be on the sidelines and I will get to see him in person. He's a historical person in college football."

    Center Jeff Byers
    On Penn State's defense...
    "That is what we have seen from them. Their defense is very good. There's no question about that. They run a couple defenses that are all really good. They don't mix it up a ton, but the defenses they do run are very good. Their interior is great, they have good pass rushers and they do their job."

    On playing against Penn State head coach Joe Paterno...
    "I'm looking forward to it. Joe Paterno is a legend. It's a great opportunity. It's special game. He's had a lot of success and he knows what he's doing. It should be a great game and it makes for a good match-up."

    Penn State Nittany Lions - Morning Press Conference Quotes
    December 28, 2008
    Los Angeles Downtown Marriott

    Defensive Coordinator Tom Bradley
    On USC's trio of running backs ...
    "We're not going to decipher between the three of them. Totaled-up they've run almost 2,000 yards. Carries-wise there is not much of a difference, it's pretty much even. Yardage-wise, it's pretty much even. It's like tailback by committee. They're all great running backs."

    "Those are great tailbacks. If you put them in the game and didn't know their numbers, it would be hard to tell them apart. If you start watching them over and over, they're the same size. They're the same speed. They're almost like clones of each other."

    On USC's offense ...
    "I think they have great perimeter people on the outside, such great skill people. The wide outs are exceptional. I don't think you are going to find a more balanced offense, run-pass. It's hard to get a handle on them. They score quickly. I think 22 of their 63 scoring drives have been three minutes or five plays or less. They've got big play capability and great speed. It's a heck of a football team we're playing."

    On USC's defense ...
    "I think both our teams are built on the same philosophy and I think that starts with defense. In Pete Carroll's era, he's lost 15 games and I think I was reading, 14 of them by seven points or less. His games are close. They have an outstanding defense. They're great at take-aways. I haven't watched them much on defense, but the times I have, they're very disciplined. They run to the ball. They cause turnovers. They're very aggressive. They know when to go for the jugular when they've got you down. It's a heck of a football team."

    On Penn State's 13-6 defensive victory over Ohio State ...
    "I thought the Ohio State game was a great physical football game. There were some great defensive plays you had to watch to understand the game. There are games where people who only understand sports appreciate what is going into the game. And the plays that were made. I think what happens on defense, they're not ESPN type plays. It's not a good highlight to watch someone come off a block and make a great tackle."

    Cornerback Lydell Sargeant
    On coming home to play the final game of his career...
    "It's a dream come true. I've wanted to come back here ever since high school. To come back in my last year and play in front of my high school coaches, friends and family is a dream come true."

    On the challenges the USC receivers are going to bring in the game...
    "Their receivers are versatile. They are big. They are fast and they can move. Their offense is very precise. Mark [Sanchez] knows where to put the ball at and they have a good connection with Mark. All we can do is watch film and try and study what they like to do in their routes. It's one of the better parts of their team and we are excited for the match-up."

    On USC's defense...
    "I've known a lot of those guys since high school. Their games are usually on after ours, so I have been able to watch them play this season. I am a fan of theirs. They are a good defense. Our offense has prepared hard."

    On USC quarterback Mark Sanchez...
    "I've always said that I think Mark is the best quarterback that I've seen play, personally. Watching him on film, it's been nothing less than what I expected. He doesn't make too many mistakes. I think he has a 64 percent completion percentage, so that goes to show how precise he is."

    Linebacker Tyrell Sales
    On the challenges of the USC Offense ...
    "There are a lot of challenges. Even more so than a lot of teams we've faced. They have so many good players as far as depth. Playing in the Big Ten, you see a lot of good athletes, a lot of good quarterbacks, running backs and receivers. When you look at someone's roster and you see that they have three guys in every position, that not something you see a lot. Not only in our conference but nation wide. Not a lot of teams have that depth."

    On the comparisons to USC's top-ranked defense ...
    "To be a good defense you have to have some kind of chip on your shoulder. We have to go out there and prove ourselves. We know what we are capable of. We know we're a good defense and capable of shutting down an offense. As far as making it a personal battle between one defense or the other, its not something we're focused on. In the back of our mind we have to realize we aren't going to get a whole lot of publicity as far as the defense."

    On the break between the regular season and the bowl game ...
    "It's almost like camp. We start camp in early August and we're just beating on each other for weeks and weeks and weeks. When the time rolls around, we can't wait to get on the field. It's kind of like the same thing."

    On scouting USC's trio of running backs ...
    "You have to prepare for all three. But like I said, they can only play one guy at a time. You can't have all three players out there running a route. You can prepare for their basic schemes and you have to be aware of what guy is in the game. But they're all very similar and you're going to get a lot of the same things. It's not so much preparing for each guy individually but preparing for the whole system. They just have the luxury to plug different guys in."

    Defensive Tackle Jared Odrick
    On the anticipation of playing a game after a 40 day break ...
    "I'm excited to go against someone else. We try to make it a game situation every day in practice as much as we can. I feel like we've done a good job of that at practice out here so far. I definitely can't wait for the game and that challenge."

    On the challenges of facing USC ...
    "Everybody has seen all season they have a lot of speed and a lot of talent at their skill positions. We've some speed and some good running backs prior to this but this is another good challenge."

    On the challenges of staying focused on the game ...
    "For my self it really hasn't. I'm not really looking to do anything else other than focus on the game. The experience of LA is a part of [the game] and to enjoy yourself but the general focus has been on the game."