Hail Caesar!

Here are Pete Carroll’s quotes from today.

COACH CARROLL: Coaches across the country are rallying to support a cause. The Coach to Cure MD, which is curing Muscular Dystrophy, a particular kind called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We’re making an effort. It’s a disease that usually strikes boys. They don’t make it past their early 20’s. It’s a Muscular Dystrophy situation that has no cure at all. So we’re doing a little special campaign for awareness and to get the word out. So that’s why we have a little demonstration of it.

I think some guys around the country are doing it in their press conferences. Some guys will be demonstrating during games in a way to help out with the causes. That’s what that’s about.

We’re in a situation here coming off a game that calls for us to kick into a gear that unfortunately over the years we’ve worked at kicking into. We have from the locker room on, have talked about how we’re going to come back together and make sure we put together a week that gets us the kind of results that we think we’re capable of. So that’s what’s underway. We’re very disappointed with how it came out.

We once again learned the game we can get you. It rears its ugly head sometimes and you’re reminded how you lose football games by turning the football over, and causing penalties and not making the plays you have to make, and it can happen. So, the good part about it is we have a chance to come back and get back on track and get rolling.

It starts with a really, really good week of work. We had a very good Monday. The attention to detail was like it should be. You would expect, very sharp, and the coaches were on it. Trying to make sure that we do everything we can to get our play to the level that we know we can make it.

So that’s what’s happening. Washington State comes off a very I’m sure it was dramatic and resounding and very exciting comeback win. Big plays by their defense. Big plays coming down the stretch to put them in a position to tie the game up with just seconds remaining and win the thing in overtime. It was really a great effort, and one that I know they’re excited about and have worked hard to deserve and all.

They look like a much improved football team. They’re quicker, more aggressive on defense. They’ve changed their receiving corps somewhat and have some big guys making plays for them. They’re working at their quarterback spots and trying to figure that out with both guys looking effective. But we’ll have to wait to see what we get.

This is an improved football team. They come into the Coliseum, hopefully we’ll play very well against them and make it very difficult on them to keep their positive stuff from happening.

The questions I know that are obvious are about the quarterback position first of all. Yesterday to my surprise and our surprise in general, that Matt Barkley practiced throughout the practice. He wasn’t perfect, but he was good enough to perform yesterday. I’m anxious to see how he feels today after throwing quite a bit yesterday. He took half the snaps in there and shared the snaps. But looked at his best since he was injured a couple of weeks ago.

So we’ll see what that story is. We don’t really know right now. We’ll have to wait day by day and see how it goes. The idea is not to throw him in anymore than we have to where we aggravate the shoulder and try to keep him progressing throughout the week.

So we’ll try to manage that and see where that leaves us by mid week and somewhere year the end of the week.

Taylor Mays is going to try to get back today and practice with us. He’s determined to start to get his work going. It didn’t go yesterday, but did run and did some things. But we’ll find out how he returns.

The other guy that’s injured, Malcolm Smith has an ankle sprain that’s going to keep him out for a bit. We’ll have to see how he responds, but it’s a fairly significant ankle. So Luther Brown and Shane Horton, and Jordan Campbell will work at that spot this week, and we’ll figure out how we’re going to go with that one later in the week.

What I’m hoping happens this week is I want to make sure we return to a balanced attack offensively. We were out of whack last week, rushing for 250 yards and throwing for 100something. That’s not the way we want to play. It’s not the style or philosophy that we live by. But that was the result of that game. I think for us to be effective, we have to be balanced as we always have aspired to. That’s what we’re hoping to recreate here in this week and going into the next couple of weeks to get our game on track.

So that means that we’ve got to make sure and emphasize what’s going on with the throwing game, the protection game, protection wise to keep the quarterback clean and compliment what we’re doing with the running game. The running game is in good order. We’re running the ball very well right now. But that’s not the way we have formulated our plan offensively over the years, so we want to get back to that. So we’re hoping to get that done.

Q. You’ve probably answered a lot of dumb questions. I hope this isn’t another one?

COACH CARROLL: You want me to let you know if I think it is or just go with it (laughing).

Q. Is there a way you can change playing your opening Pac-10 Conference game on the road after a big non-conference game?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, we can try to control that. If that’s the issue. I don’t know if that’s the issue. It’s stacking up a little bit. You see that there’s a little bit of history there. But that takes a long, you know, you have to project that way down the road because the schedule is set for so long, there’s not much you can do about it.

At times there is flexibility by getting an off week when there is an opportunity to adjust at times and stuff like that. But it looks like it would be a good idea, yeah.

Q. Expectations are so high and then you have a loss. Do you address that specifically with the team, the shock factor?

COACH CARROLL: I think we I don’t address the fact. It is a shock. It is that. But I don’t address it in that way. We have a way of communicating, you know, how we deal with the setbacks and how we’re moving forward that I don’t like to be good at it, but I want to be good at it, I guess, because we have to.

I think when anybody has a setback, and you’re disappointed and things don’t workout the way you plan, you’re faced with an alternative of, you know, living with that and kind of stewing with that disappointment or taking positive steps to put yourself in the right direction again.

We choose to go with returning to what we know is really good for us, and to return to the language and the mindset that’s always kept us intact. And that’s coming back to who we are. Practicing really hard. Practicing really well. With very good focus, and great intensity at practice. Attention to detail. Go about recreating that which you know you can create. And that’s kind of how we do it.

So it’s a wakeup call. It’s difficult and all, but we all are faced with stuff like that. The way you can do that is if you know who you are, you have a chance to get back to who you are. If you don’t know and you’re unsure, you can squander that time and kind of waste the opportunity and not get redirected quickly. You know, if you spent a bunch of time on the side of it that wasn’t representative of you, then you might draw yourself to that again.

So we go right back to who we are, what we know. Playing good football. We get to come to the coliseum to do it, and hopefully we’ll put together a great showing. It’s kind of the way we talk and act and we don’t allow for anything other than that. It’s served us well over the years, he we want to stay with it.

Q. Was there a reason you didn’t roll Aaron Corp out more during the Washington game?

COACH CARROLL: Not particularly. We tried to stay with the running game because we felt very confident. We weren’t getting good results throwing the ball. So we wanted to see if in this game on that day we could win the game running the football, really. That felt like the right way to go. You know, to try to win it a little out of normal formula. We couldn’t get enough going.

Q. You were saying you want to get back to the balance of running and throwing, but at the same time you’ve talked about how you don’t want to put too much pressure on the quarterback. How do you balance that?

COACH CARROLL: We work our way through it, you know. We have to work towards it. It’s the process. As we’re unveiling the ability of our quarterback position, we have to make sure that we take good strides to not go too far too fast. We’ve installed all of our notebook, but we’re only calling on certain parts of it to compliment what’s in the game plan. Which is how we always do it. That’s not different.

But it is how you rely on stuff in difficult situations and what you call on to count on being able to execute. So we have to be careful with that right now until we get a back log and reservoir of experiences and we’re moving ahead with positive feelings and growth. That’s how this goes right now. I don’t know any other way to do it.

I don’t care about trying to figure out how to be balanced to be balanced. I want to do it the right way and make sure we execute well along that way. Do we have to get it in this game, no. Somewhere down the road in this season we have to find our way to that if we grow with a young player. Wouldn’t matter if it was Aaron or Matt (Barkley) in that regard. Both those guys are new. This is exactly the way we’ve always done it. And not that was great, but that’s what we’re going with, the way we know how to do it.

Q. What can you do about the issue of turnovers?

COACH CARROLL: It’s pretty hard for me. If I knew that, it would be settled and the issue would be behind us. But experienced guys get the ball knocked out of their hands in the game. The quarterback tried, but could have thrown a couple more. Those are most alarming to me. We could have had two or three more interceptions in that game. Those are more clearly understood than when our guys, Stafon Johnson and Stanley Havili, and guys that have been around here a long time know you don’t give the ball up.

Stanley’s was a very unusual situation. That play will never happen again. He was trying to stay on his feet. His ball hand just for balance and stuff, that’s not going to come up again. So that was unusual. The other one is the ball got knocked out of Stafon’s hands and he’s a great ball carrier in terms of taking care of the football. He was double wrapping the ball when it happened. So there’s things we have to talk about. And we have to go to the specifics of it and get on it.

We’re emphasizing this enormously. We need to see our emphasis come through. That’s how we go about it. It continues to be a problem that we’re not getting the football. You know, we had six different opportunities to get the football, and didn’t get them. The ball was on the ground first play of the game. Balls were tipped in the air. We had three different interception opportunities, and those are opportunities we have to capitalize on if we’re going to swing the thing, swing it, and it’s not happening yet. So we’ll keep working at it and trying to get these guys ready to take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves.

Q. How would you evaluate the mood of the team compared to how it was last year after Oregon State?

COACH CARROLL: I think they’re wide open to how we’re directing them. They’re very responsive. Intently listening to the message. And they’ve been pounded about not coming up with their own solutions. We don’t need their input in that regard. We need them to follow along and make sure they’re in it. They’ve complied exactly like we’ve hoped them to right now. We just need to get on the same page and be together and stay very tight, and I think we’re there.

Q. What did you think of Aaron’s overall performance? After the game you talked, he didn’t look very comfortable?

COACH CARROLL: I think he felt and would say he struggled. It wasn’t like we had hoped it would feel to him. For whatever reason. I think just getting in the game setting for the first time in a while, it was just a bit of a challenge.

I think also you can see that he needs to get back to full go. You know, I don’t think he’s all the way back yet. I don’t think his arm strength is there. I don’t think using his whole body he’s been playing with a broken leg for five weeks now. He hasn’t been using his lower unit. He’s compensated in a way that he’s not at his best yet.

He’s working at it. He’s trying to get back. I think it’s even understandable, you know. It’s not okay for us resultwise. But it’s understandable that he’s still coming back. He’ll be better. I think getting out there, there is nothing like the experience of it. He’s dying to get another chance to go back out and improve and be better at it, and quicker with the football and all of that.

You know, game speed as much as we work at it, you know, game speed is game speed. I think we were just a notch off tempowise. He could feel that. It was causing things to be tighter and closer, and every ball was challenged and all of that. He knows he can play better.

Q. Defensively you’re still holding teams to under 15 points. Are you happy with that and how they compared to last year’s defense?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think we’re playing really good defense in general. Just disappointed in the last drive. Really, almost the entire season, the one drive was really the time we really were challenged, needed to come there and get that done. We got whipped by Jake and the boys up there.

Other than that, the run game play is excellent. We’re taking away people’s best threat for the most part and dealing with it. We’re staying on top. Not giving up easy balls. The thing we’re not doing is we’re not getting the football. So that’s a battle cry around here that we’re just going to keep on hollering about and trying to press on the guys to find our ways.

We have to create that by the things we do in the back field and rushes and things and get them some help. All in all, the defense is playing very well. We can count on them to continue. We have a lot of guys in the rotation, which is good. We have a chance to continue to grow as a defense as we go through the season.

Q. Aaron said he was never told he was starting last week. Does he have a clear idea this week?

COACH CARROLL: No. No. We don’t know what we’re doing with the quarterback spot yet. Aaron knew he was preparing to start in the game from Tuesday on. So he was clear about that. But just kind of it was so obvious that we didn’t have to say anything. Matt (Barkley) never got back. So that might have helped him, you know. I don’t know. I don’t think it would have helped him measurably. But it would have been nice so you didn’t have to ask that question (laughing).

Q. Can you talk a little about the penalties? You’ve had a couple of false starts and the passing penalty late in the game?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, I think line of scrimmage has been okay. You’re going to have a couple every now and then. We’re not struggling there at all. I think the penalties that stood out, there were three almost backtoback special teams penalties that were ones that set us back. I think we started on the 9, the 13, and the 17, those were huge penalties. Those were much more impacting than other penalties that sometimes come you up.

Any time we take liberty to make a late hit, those are horrible penalties. I hate those penalties, and our guys paid for those. That’s a decision that you can make. It’s so clear, and we have to be really good at that. So I think they could be the issue is always about cleaning stuff up. We know that we have a factor that we have to overcome some way because historically it’s proven that we have got to really work hard in the penalty situation because our opponents don’t get called as much.

In this game it didn’t work out that way. They had 10, we had 8. Over the long haul we know how this works. So we’ve got to get better at it. The most volatile area of football is on special teams. And we can’t incur three penalties and expect to be okay. The field position was hard enough as it was anyway. So huge area for us.

Q. Close win, close loss. What did you learn working with your new coordinators working in that way?

COACH CARROLL: We’ve communicated really well. I don’t have any squawks about anything that’s going on right now. We played to the games and the situation that’s we’ve been in. I’m right in concert with how we’ve called games and what we’ve had to do under the circumstances that we’ve been in. I’ve got no problems about any of it. The good thing is we’re really talking clearly in and around the game. During the week as we’re preparing and all that. We’re dealing with our issues and trying to make the very most of it.

We would have loved to have figured out a way to score the touchdown when we were down there last week. But in a conservative moment to make sure we did get it tied up, I was totally involved with that process. Other than that, I’m not you know, I can second guess that thought, you know. Let’s go try for the touchdown by throwing it. We tried to score the touchdown by running it, and we were not trying to score.

I like what’s going on. I think we’re going to continue to grow. We have to continue to develop our guys so we can continue to grow in our phase of ball. We’re farther away offensively than we are defensively right now because of the youth at quarterback. So we’re just working at it.

Q. What is your thought on not getting the field goal off in the end of the first half?

COACH CARROLL: Well, there were 18 seconds left. We know that really to get a hurryup field goal down there, you’ve got to have 16 seconds to get that done, at least, after the play. So we were under the gun on the thing. But we didn’t have a timeout. We anticipated making the first down, stop the clock, move the sticks, clock the football, and then have a play and the field goal.

But not getting the first down is what got us. It was 3rd and 2 or whatever it was, and 3. We thought we’d run for it and make it. That’s how we tried to get that done right there.

So I think in the efficiency of that, and we practice it every week, in the efficiency of it, there were many two seconds we could have picked up that we might have had a chance. He did hit the field goal. It was that close. We weren’t quite as sharp as we were getting set at the line of scrimmage. Just need to work harder at it.

But that is a designed situation we practice and work on. It’s called may day field goal. You know you don’t have a way to stop the clock. We were on alert, we were there, we worked on it. Everybody hit the field. We were a little sluggish getting on off the field, but really, there was still we might have been able to steal a couple of seconds getting in the stance when we got on the field.

Q. You had to do it awfully quick if you don’t get the first down?

COACH CARROLL: Well, yeah. That’s something that we practice. It’s choreographed. There was just I think with the time knowing I’m looking at 18 seconds, this is not a guaranteed field goal opportunity, you know. The play went pretty quick. We switched, boom, did our stuff. By the time everybody got snap set and we snapped it, we missed it by a second or two at most. We might have picked up two. Of so we have to continue to work at it. I think it’s the first time we’ve had to hit one of those in years. We’ve been practicing it for years. It finally came up and we weren’t quite as clean as we needed to be. We need 22 seconds to run that well. The result of the play. We know we can get it done in that kind of timeframe.

o it’s a good challenge. It’s a good aspect of the game that you try to get good at, and we were a hair off from being just right.

Q. Is there ever an instance in that situation where you would leave your offensive unit intact on the field other than the quarterback and the running back? Just run the kicker and the holder out there?

COACH CARROLL: We’re not prepared to do it that way. You could, but the limited amount of time you have to practice that, you know, it’s a good suggestion. I don’t think we can get it done though.

Q. Is Damian Williams getting doubled as much as it appears?

COACH CARROLL: No, no. They don’t even have that in their system to double him. He just played football, no. Not at all. Maybe these guys. Washington State could. They have some stuff they could do. But a lot of teams either have that ability in their style of play or they don’t. That’s not happening.

Q. How close did you come to making the switch at quarterback late in the game? What were the considerations with both Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain?

COACH CARROLL: I told Matt and Mitch to warm up. I think it was right around early in the fourth quarter. Thought maybe we needed a spark. When the interchange went back and forth and Matt came back and I said how you doing. He said he couldn’t throw. So I looked back at what was going on in the game. Soon after we had our drive that went down the field, and just stayed with it, you know.

But it was in my mind to do that, yeah. I had thought about it all week long in anticipation. I was trying to get Matt to be ready to play in that game. If we needed him, maybe in the game situation he’d be all right, you know. Which there was no indication of that, I was just kind of hoping that could happen as it does sometimes. That didn’t occur.

But I really had the thought it was Mitch or Matt at the time. We just got a little too far into it, and felt it was just best to stay the course.

Q. On Tuesday, Aaron was going to start. Is there a reason you didn’t just come out later in the week and say it?

COACH CARROLL: Yeah, specifically it was to keep Matt (Barkley) alive in the process. Aaron knew more than Matt did. And I wanted to make sure not having been in the situation with Matt, I did the same thing with Taylor (Mays) as well. Taylor was on course to start all the way through the week, to guarantee that they mentally had to be in the preparation. You know, if you tell a guy okay, you’re not playing, it’s really, really asking too much to have a guy hold the warrior mentality and preparation all the way throughout.

So I wanted to challenge our young guy and also Taylor who had never been in that situation either, to try to guarantee their preparation. So that if they were okay, if they snapped out of it and they were okay by the end of the week, they’d be able to be called on.

I really didn’t think after a couple days in the week that Matt would have a chance to be able to be the starter. And I think most of the guys understand why and all of that follow us. But I wanted him to be ready to play in case he could all of a sudden play. He was shocked on Friday how well he threw the football. Really, that was the indication that maybe the next day he’d even be better. And if we needed him, he’d be able to come off the bench.

That’s exactly how he played it out. He didn’t quite have it when we needed it to make the call late in the game. So, you know, I know it was a little uncomfortable and all that. But it’s trying to get those guys to be as mentally sharp and ready and prepared as they can possibly be to help us win. It didn’t matter to me what the rest of the story was. I was trying to get those guys ready to go.

Q. How much time do you have to audible at the line and change the play?

COACH CARROLL: Same as we always have, you know. Same as we’ve always had in our system. Save a couple of situations over the years. Sometimes there’s games where we audible more by design because of the looks that we’re getting and all. But this was not a game where we had to do anything unique checkwise. So the regular things we do about moving the running game back and forth, and the things we do, we knew he had in command.

Q. Is he comfortable with it?

COACH CARROLL: Oh, yeah, he’s very good at it.

Q. So much focus on the quarterback. The receivers, are they producing?

COACH CARROLL: I don’t think it’s a question of that right now. I don’t think that they’ve had many opportunities. The way it’s gone, we haven’t gone and really relied on them. We’ve gone a lot to Damian (Williams) so far. But there haven’t been a lot of break downs or mistakes that have caused us to not get the balls to the guys. The guys are working hard on it and all that. It’s a matter of spreading the game around when we feel like we can. We will when we can.

Q. They run option routes?

COACH CARROLL: We have both. We have both. We have routes that are option routes by design. There’s a mixture of that in our system. It’s always been there. So I think you have to have a little bit of both.

There are some offenses that run. A lot of the run and shoot stuff is a lot of adjustment stuff on the run, but we don’t do that.