Oct. 17, 2009
An interview with:
COACH PETE CARROLL
COACH PETE CARROLL: We gave you something to hang around for. A good win for us obviously. Anytime you come here and win it's good. Unfortunately the way it turned out, we kept giving opportunities back, let these guys hang around. They played great. I thought Notre Dame played a heck of a football game today. Made us go all the way to the end to hold onto it. That's a good thing. It was a good game.
We had to do a lot of good things late in the game to hang on to make good decisions to position our guys right to finish it off. Some of it didn't go quite the way we wanted it to. When it came down to it, we found ways to make our plays.
Thought it was an extraordinary day for our quarterback. I think you see Matt Barkley is really something. I love him, the way he plays, battles, competes, the plays he's capable of making. There's no limit. So we're just thrilled about that and the way he came through. Got great games out of Anthony McCoy and Damian Williams in particular. Those two guys were making plays, running good routes, making good things happen at the right time, making explosive plays that we need to move the football.
I was really pleased. It's awesome to play against Notre Dame when you're at USC. I know it is for them, too. We're thrilled to have had the run we've had and hope to keep this thing rolling. It's a big deal to us. It's special. So we got to hang onto it. Next time around when they come to our place, we have to get it again and see if we can keep it going.
It's really special for the SC family to continue to be on top of this rivalry. I know they're going to enjoy the heck out of it. They deserve it. Grateful to give it to them.
What do you got?
Q. Coach, Matt has now won as a true freshman at Cal, Ohio State, now here. Evaluate the poise you have seen from him.
COACH PETE CARROLL: He's just remarkable. There's no way to describe it because there's nobody else to compare him to in our history. He's just so poised and so comfortable in the arena that it doesn't really matter where we're playing; it doesn't affect him.
It's not because he's numb to it. He knows exactly where he is and what he's doing. He has this great inner strength and confidence that allows him to be unwaivered. He's just a remarkable kid. He's fun to work with. Kids love him on the team. He's a hard worker. He has tremendous savvy. His ability, as he learns more and more about where everybody is and all, he can make unbelievable plays.
He threw a few balls today that I don't know if you can appreciate where he was on the read and came back to the guy that he hit with marvelous accuracy, struck him dead again. I don't think there's any reason for us to think anything other than that. It took us a while to believe what we were seeing. He's doing everything any of the quarterbacks that have played for us have done. I'm not saying he's better than Carson or Matt. He's capable of doing anything their offense was doing when they were playing in the middle of their careers. That's remarkable. We haven't seen anything like that.
We're enjoying it. Having fun. He's having a blast. You'll see him, he's having fun with it.
Q. Pete, how did you get the defense recomposed after they thought they won the game, then the review, during that process?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Trying to enjoy the heck out of it. It was a great moment. Whether we had to go back again or not, that just doubled the fun of trying to get it done.
We had a real good call we wanted to make. We had a couple of special things we had to tell them they could have done for alerts. But basically we just had to go play another play really hard and really well, do like we always do.
There was no special plays to be made; just execute the calls we had and be confident and go for it. That's what they did perfectly. Really could have stopped a lot of situations earlier than that. Unfortunately we made it real dramatic and fun. The good part is we won so we'll take that and enjoy it.
Q. Given the stature of these two programs, how do you explain one program being able to beat the other eight times in a row?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I don't know. You guys figure that out, try to talk about it all you want. I just know when we play them, we wind up winning and we play better football on those days. If they beat us, they'd get their wins.
It's about that day. Doesn't have anything to do with the past to me, doesn't have anything to do with the future. It's that day you play the game, you go for it. We've been able to have a really consistent run at this thing. I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be able to say that. There's not a whole lot more you can enjoy when you're at SC.
You want these rivalries to go in this order so our fans get used to it. They kind of get, you know, where it's what they expect. It's what we want. The expectations are difficult and challenging, but that's the only way we want it. Fortunately we're on the top end of it.
Q. You talked about the last play. As Notre Dame was making its way down the field, do you always have the sense your team is going to be able to come up with a stop?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Absolutely. Everyone in that huddle, everybody on the sidelines, that's all we've known. We prepared our mindset that's all we know. I know that may sound you can take it and do whatever you want with it. That's what we develop. We try to develop the mentality it doesn't matter, give us one last play.
Quite frankly, it's ironic this happened. Bud Grant was here. Famous coach from the Vikings. He used to say, All you want to do is give your team a chance to win on the last play of the game. I couldn't wait to run over and tell him after the game was over, You got it, here it is.
But that mentality is, you want to have that mentality if it goes to that last play, you have something left in the tank to finish it and win it. We've been talking that way and preparing the way we prepare to build legitimacy to that mindset. Again, we had the chance to back it up.
When it doesn't happen, it's so far out of we can't even relate to it when it doesn't happen. We go right back to the mindset again. Fortunately, it's a very fun way to think and prepare and to operate.
Q. Can you talk about Jimmy Clausen, what you tried to do to throw him off, what you thought of his performance.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Yeah, I thought he hung real well. Must have got a bunch of yards in the second half. Like any great quarterback, you have to do everything. Coverage, come after him, drop people off to keep him from getting his rhythm. We were successful in the first half. I really think without the knucklehead 15 yarders that kept moving the football, I think we were going to be okay.
He's a great football player. We've known that since he was 14. You're seeing the culmination of a career, all that here. He's a great player. Fortunately we got out of here. This is the best he's been. He's extraordinary. You're getting to see that. You guys are lucky to have him.
Q. Where does that mindset you talked about on the last drive go when you're up 34 14?
COACH PETE CARROLL: It's about finishing. Goes back to finishing then. When we're way up, it's not necessary, other than we don't care what the score is. It's whatever the opportunity is, we want to maximize. So if we're up by a bunch of points, that's what we're trying to see how much farther we can take it out. If it's a struggle, if it's a tough game, we're just going to keep battling knowing something good is going to happen. Only way we know how to think.
Q. Today you're up 20 though.
COACH PETE CARROLL: And stuff happens. Stuff happened. Given Golden the big takeoff route, Josh played it great, all over it, made a great play like he's been doing. I thought that was the play, the one we really didn't need to give up. Make them earn their way. 30, 50 yard shot. Josh is a great football player. He's on it. Tate comes up with the play. Great play for him and Jimmy. That was the one we shouldn't have given them. Need to make them earn it, then something good would happen.
The problem for this game for us, the ball was on the ground four times, we didn't come up with any of them. That's just horrible on our part. We had the ball out exactly how we designed it to happen. They came up with all of them, I believe. I don't believe we got a turnover today. Did we get one? I don't think so. The opportunity was there. We created it. Didn't capitalize on it. That drives me crazy.
Q. You commented on the defensive penalties. You called them 'knucklehead plays'. Can you make a comment on that.
COACH PETE CARROLL: Getting overexcited. Their guy got in Mando's face, Armstead, and he responded. That's crazy. Then it happened in the mess over there in front of their bench. When the crowd does what they do, that looks horrible. The hit out of bounds, I don't know about any of that stuff. When you're on the road, this is what happens. You have to play above and beyond those kind of decision making situations and we didn't do that. Crazy we would do that.
I think we had two penalties in the first half for five yards, playing great football, then five or six or something. Silly. Obviously, those are easy things to fix. We'll fix 'em.
An interview with:
COACH Charlie Weis
COACH Charlie Weis: All right, fire away.
Q. Just right off the bat, were you going for two if you had gotten in?
COACH Charlie Weis: We didn't get in, so... I was going to use my last timeout to make that decision. I was torn. I had been toiling with the answer to that question the whole drive. My gut is I probably would not have. I probably would have kicked the extra point, make the freshman quarterback beat you in overtime versus the veteran quarterback.
It was a serious consideration that I was addressing with the staff at the time when we're going through that drive.
Q. There was a bunch of time that clicked off after the penalty. Did you think about calling timeout there?
COACH Charlie Weis: No. We knew how many plays we were going to be able to get off right there. We knew what plays we were going to call. We probably could have gotten it off a couple seconds earlier. With that one second we had at the end of the game, that was about the number of plays we were counting on having in that sequence right there. Kind of figured out what we were going to do. Just didn't end up getting it done.
Q. How do you feel about your team and your program coming out of that game?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, anyone who doesn't realize the fight that's in the Fighting Irish is missing the boat. If you haven't watched the last five games, I mean, it's every week the same thing.
Would I like to not be in that situation? Ubetcha. But go all the way back to Michigan, every week, this team is a bunch of fighters. I'm proud of the fight. I'm disappointed with the losses. It's never okay to lose. But they're a bunch of fighters. Down three scores, about everyone in the house figured it's probably time to throw in the towel. Not this group. No way. Not happening.
Q. What did you tell the team after the loss and how are you going to move forward from here?
COACH Charlie Weis: I'll keep that private. How is that? How we're going to move forward is we have a team that's beaten us six times in a row. After they get some time to regroup and gather their thoughts, I'd rather keep my comments to the team private. Boston College is rolling in. They've had our number here for quite some time. That's the next mission we have to take to task.
Q. Looked like Jimmy never really got in a rhythm in the first half. What did they do to keep him out of that rhythm and what did you do to get him in his rhythm the second half?
COACH Charlie Weis: First half, they were mixing and matching pretty well. We were trying to stay one step ahead of them. We were playing relatively conservative to make sure that nothing really got away from us too early in the game 'cause we wanted to be able to go toe to toe with them. I think that was the most important thing early in the game, make sure you were in a situation quarter by quarter that you were going toe to toe so if you get in the fourth quarter, you had an opportunity to win the game.
The game started to get away from us a little bit in the third quarter. We spread them out, mixed a combination of some inside runs with Armando and with Jimmy with the field spread, I think that's when we finally got some rhythm going.
Q. Can you talk about the last sequence and what was supposed to happen with Golden, his knee was down on the two, and on the last one, who was that supposed to go to?
COACH Charlie Weis: Well, there were three guys being free released on the play. First of all, the play before that, he's running a slant, and he's getting jammed at the line of scrimmage. He's running a slant. The guys stepped inside of him.
On the last play, we put Golden on the right, figuring if he had single, we'd throw it up to him. If they rolled over the top, we'd work to the left. If you were watching closely, you'll see the safety, which we anticipated, was going to run right over the top of the corner to double him up figuring we were going to throw a fade ball to Golden. So then we were running a high low to the left.
We practiced it really with Robby. Robby was hurt at the time. So you had Duval on the slot, and Kyle over the top. Duval is coming open on the quick out. He's open. He falls down. Slips coming out of the break. I'll have to see, could the guy have made a play? I don't think so. I think he would catch it for a touchdown. But he slips coming out of the break.
Q. You mentioned the fight in the team. That's gotten you three up and two down basically in the last five weeks. How much value do you put in fight versus getting it done? Especially given the emotional attachment to this game, where do you look for encouragement? Is fighting them down to that last second enough?
COACH Charlie Weis: I don't want to be sarcastic. Are you saying it's bad to be fighting at the end of the game? Want to make sure I've got this right.
Q. The fight has gotten you 3 2 over the last five weeks. Is fighting them down to the end enough or are you going to have to emphasize to your guys you have to get the last four yards?
COACH Charlie Weis: We're playing one of the best teams in the country. That's who we're playing. USC is one of the best teams in the country. You're down by three scores. You get a touchdown, get a turnover, another touchdown. Get the ball down there inside the five at the end of the game, okay?
If you have an opportunity to play one of the best teams in the country, you're in that situation, if you would have told me before the game, You can have the ball on the five yard line at the end of the game with a chance to tie or win, I probably would have taken that.
So, hey, look, I'm really disappointed for those guys in there, I really am, because they're fighters. But you're right. When you're living on the edge, the way these games come down, when you're living on the edge, it's not going to turn out great every time. So I cannot disagree with you on that comment.
Q. A series and a couple of plays that might be forgotten in this game are early in the third quarter when you had the drive, third and three, two running plays to pick up the first down. You did not.
COACH Charlie Weis: The field goal kicker going in that direction. I needed to get three more yards. I went to Brian, I said, What does it look like from here? He goes, We need to get a few more yards. It's third and one, fourth and one. We don't get it. That really swung some momentum. It's 13 7 at the time. Really would have liked to kick the field goal, but really wasn't in good position there.
I took his judgment and went ahead and went for it. We were really disappointed on that one because we didn't get enough push to get the first down. Then they come back with a quick score right after that. What was budding as momentum in our direction quickly turned in USC's favor.
Q. Gary Gray had an interesting day. I don't think he played this much since he's been here. Sum up his day.
COACH Charlie Weis: One of the things he did in the last game was compete for balls at corner. I think as a coaching staff, one of the things that we've been disappointed in is the competition for balls that have been in the air. So going into this game, Gary earned the right to go ahead and get out there and do that.
Made a big play. Put us in a position to get it to a one score game. I think he'll be playing a lot more.
Q. Could you kind of assess the play of the pass defense? A lot of open guys out there.
COACH Charlie Weis: I just know that except for that first drive where they got three jumps there, ended up with a touchdown, or the first touchdown drive they have, most of the guys I saw running open were off of bootlegs or the fake slip screen where the tight end was running down the middle of the field.
I'd have to wait and see it. But I think they did a nice job with play action, neutralizing, you know, our rush defense, which I thought we made a bunch of plays in the run game.
Q. Could you talk about the offensive line, both in getting some push in the running game, but also fending off the pressure that USC brought.
COACH Charlie Weis: You know, we gave up sacks. But when you're throwing the ball over 40 times in the game against a defense like this, you leave yourself vulnerable to that.
I think, especially when spread 'em out, when we got to that spread out mode, where we blasted inside, get the ball outside, I think they actually started gaining momentum, giving Jimmy a chance. Jimmy bought some time for us, too. A lot of sore puppies in there right now.
Q. Can you assess the way Matt Barkley played today.
COACH Charlie Weis: Once again, I think he had big numbers as far as yardage go. Threw the ball about 30 times. A lot of them went for chunks. A lot of them were off of play action, boots. Made a bunch of plays. I think that he did a nice job of managing the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jimmy Clausen.
Q. How tough is this loss for you guys?
Jimmy Clausen: It's an extremely tough loss. Fighting back at the end, fourth quarter, coming up short, one second to go, it's heartbreaking.
Q. When you're in that situation, you want to be down there with the ball in your hands, do you feel like you had your shot?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, definitely. When the game is on the line, I obviously want to have the ball in my hands. We have a lot of confidence in the offense to get a touchdown in that situation. Unfortunately we didn't.
Q. Was there any point in the game when you had doubts, 34 14, maybe, or did you always feel like had you a chance to come back?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, if we just executed where we were supposed to execute, we always have a chance to come back, the defense gives us the ball like we do.
Q. Talk about the final play.
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, you know, Duval slipped. I tried to get it to him quick. Game kind of came down to that last play. He's in there right now. I just went in there and said, You did well, keep your head up. Shouldn't have came down to that last play. There were a lot of opportunities in the game.
Q. How much more heartbreaking does it become when you make that kind of comeback and you're in position to win it?
Jimmy Clausen: You know, it's just a heartbreaker, period, whether you come back from seven points or however many points we did today. It's just a tough loss.
Q. (Question regarding the game clock.)
Jimmy Clausen: No, I saw the clock the whole time. We were trying to get plays in and out, trying to do as much as we could at the time.
Q. How capable is this team of being able to put this behind you?
Jimmy Clausen: We're definitely going to put it behind us. It's a tough loss right now. A lot of guys are down. But we'll come back. We'll come in on Monday and we'll be ready to go against BC.
Q. What was the difference between you in the first half and the second half?
Jimmy Clausen: I don't know what it was. I'll have to watch the tape, figure out what was going on. The second half, I felt comfortable. The offense felt comfortable moving the ball down the field.
Q. Was the play calling more conservative in the first half to get in position to make a bid for it in the second half?
Jimmy Clausen: Not at all. Not at all. That's one of the things that Coach Weis stressed coming into the game, don't be conservative like we've been in the past. We want to come out and give it everything we got. I think Coach Weis did a great job of calling the game.
Q. (Question regarding the loss.)
Jimmy Clausen: It's a loss. Whether it's to the No. 1 team in the country or the No. 6 team in the country, it's a loss. I give a lot of respect to SC. They came out and fought hard.
What we did today showed a lot to the country. I'm so proud of this team, keep fighting when we're down. I think that's what the team is all about.
Q. Was that one of your best games against a really good team?
Jimmy Clausen: It's a loss. Statistics really don't matter. Wish we could have got that last one.
Q. Do you feel like you're able to have big games against good teams like that?
Jimmy Clausen: To be honest with you, it's not just about me. It's about the whole team. We just fought really hard at the end. Just came up short.
Q. Late in the game, was turf toe aggravated any?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, it was. (Indiscernible) stepped on it a few times, not on purpose, but rushing up the field. Started hurting towards the end.
Q. How was their defense different than some of the other teams you played this season?
Jimmy Clausen: I think the biggest thing is team speed. All those guys can run. That's a big difference when you have guys that are out there. Taylor Mays runs a 4.3, all the linebackers run sub 4.3s. It's different when you're going against team speed like that. I think we did a good job of handling it.
Q. When they win eight in a row, is it still a rivalry?
Jimmy Clausen: Oh, it is. I think you saw out there today, the games come down to it at the end. Like I said, it's just heartbreaking we came up short.
The past few years we weren't competitive at all. That's one of the things that we've gained, starting to be competitive against whoever we're playing. We believe we're going to win each and every time we go out there.
I think that's what we did today. We believed we could go out there and win. Like I said, we came up short.
Q. One play left. What did you say in the huddle?
Jimmy Clausen: I just said, This is what we worked for ever since last season. Let's go make this happen.
Q. Did you talk to any of the other guys besides Duval, give them a pep talk after a game like this?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, obviously all the guys are down. We'll be back and be ready to go on Monday for BC.
Q. You were here for the '05 game. Did this feel like the '05 game towards the end of it with the way it was going down, despite the result?
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, I think so. In the '05 game it was to win the game, either SC was going to win or Notre Dame was going to win. This was to try to tie the game, but it was kind of the same thing.
Q. (Question regarding living on the edge.)
Jimmy Clausen: Yeah, you know, when you live on the edge like that, you're not always going to come out on the winning side. We saw that against Michigan. We came up on the winning side the next two games. When the games come down to that, you're not always going to win at the end. That's what we try to do, not be in those situations.
Q. (Question regarding having a lot of friends on SC's team.)
Jimmy Clausen: Played a great game today. Competed really hard till the end. Like I say, I give SC a lot of credit for coming out today and playing hard.
Q. (Question regarding receiver play in the second half.)
Jimmy Clausen: They played great. Robby came up with a lot of big catches. Probably the biggest catch of the game. Duval came up with a lot of big catches.
All the receivers on our team I have confidence in. Every time I throw the ball, I know they're going to go up and get it, whether it's a deep ball, a ball coming right at them, I know they're going to make a catch, make something happen.
USC vs. Notre Dame
Oct. 17, 2009 * Notre Dame Ind.
Notre Dame Player Quotes
No. 56 Brian Smith * Jr. * LB
On the Irish comeback in the fourth quarter ...
We had a lot of heart, but we just couldn't get the job done. On being on the sideline during the final Irish drive ... We were just hoping that we would score, and when we didn't, it was like someone drove a knife into our hearts.
On Gary Gray's interception and how it changed the feeling on the Irish sideline...
It really gave us hope to keep playing. There was not one time when this team tucked its tail and said 'We're down three scores; we lost.' This is a different kind of team. We just kept fighting.
On this loss being the toughest of Smith's career...
Absolutely. This is a huge game. When we lost, it hurt. To give everything you have and still lose really hurts. It's like saying everything you have isn't enough.
No. 4 Gary Gray * Jr. * CB
On his interception in the fourth quarter...
I jammed (USC wide receiver Damian) Williams at the line, came off of it and saw the ball. I should have (returned it for a touchdown), but I put the offense on the field and it good field position.
On earning more playing time today...
I've been watching a lot of film and Coach (Corwin) Brown preaches practicing hard, so I've been trying to do that and that's why I've earned more playing time.
On the mood of the locker room after the loss...
Everyone's upset; we just lost. We still have a lot to go in the season. I know I left some plays out there and missed some tackles. It's a disappointing loss and we have a rival (Boston College) next week, so we won't be down for long.
On what it takes to play against USC...
You really have to mind your P's and Q's. They're one of the best teams in the nation and we stood toe-to-toe with them.
No. 23 Golden Tate * Jr. * WR
On where the team goes from here...
We've got Boston College next week. Obviously, it hurts but we've got to come in Monday or tomorrow and just prepare for BC.
On the team matching the intensity of USC...
I thought they came out jumping around and excited, but we came out really excited too. We know that we can score and we know that we can play with anyone in the country. That is how we came out and we prepared for the last two weeks so I think that we came out and we were ready to play.
On fight of the team to come back and play until the final play...
We don't really care what the score is; we are just going to keep playing. As you guys have seen the last four or five games, we keep playing. We play until the clock says 00:00. I think that is just one of our things this year. We weren't going to quit. We were going to play until the clock said 00:00.
No. 55 Eric Olsen * Sr. * C
On making adjustments to slow down USC's pass rush...
The guys all have a lot of pride, especially on the offensive line. We just tried to tighten the belt and get to work.
On balancing heartbreak with finding positives from the loss...
For me there is no difference. It is just a heartbreaking loss. Our efforts toward the end of the game were good, but they weren't good enough. That's the bottom line. A loss is a loss is a loss.
On moving forward from here...
We were able to claw our way back against one of the best teams in the country. It's kind of tough to look at the positives when you lose but we're going to have to. We don't have a choice but to move on. You have to take the positives from this and learn from the negatives.
#25 Notre Dame vs. #6 USC
October 17, 2009 * Notre Dame Stadium
USC Player Quotes
Senior safety Will Harris
On Notre Dame's offense...
"We got the win, but they got us on a couple of plays. We held strong."
Senior cornerback Kevin Thomas
On the last play...
"We gave them so many opportunities because we had some many penalties, but we just stayed focused and kept fighting. We practice for these types of games."
What's going through his mind on the last play...
"Just execute our plays and not let them in the end zone."
What the win means...
"It says great things about the game and the rivalry. With our fans and their fans were on the edge of their seat."
Senior safety Josh Pinkard
When they put one second on the clock...
"I knew it was coming because when I looked up at the clock I saw there should have been one second left. I started getting mentally prepared before it happened."
What play did you think they were going to run...
"I knew they were either going to run a fade route or an end route. They ran the fade but No. 9 (Kyle Rudolph) over ran it and then he (Jimmy Clausen) threw it behind him."
Junior tailback Allen Bradford
How do you feel right now?
"We had to beat Notre Dame, we did and we're going back to L.A. with a good win and it feels good."
Did you ever feel like it was slipping away?
"No, it didn't feel like it was slipping away. It got late, we kind of relaxed a little bit towards the end, we thought we had the game then, but once we had to get our focus back we just kept executing our plays."
Starting out as a freshman this year, how poised was Barkley in the huddle tonight?
"He was real poised, he didn't seem like he was a freshman out there, he wasn't complaining at all and he was real focused in the huddle.
He's only 19 years old and in this kind of game you're coming in and you are laughing and you're grinning. Were you having fun with this?
"That just shows the maturity level, I think [Barkley] was born to be a quarterback, he is a real leader out there and I respect him a lot."
Junior tailback Joe McKnight
"We went to the Ohio State and it felt the same when we were fighting Notre Dame."
Where do you draw your strength when you are in an environment like this?
"Just knowing that everyone is against us, even the football team and everybody in the stands. Just to have them crying after the game is a good thing for everyone on the team."
Is that why you guys ran off so fast, because it's time to get off the field?
"Yes, (laughs) it's time to go. You know, we got tired of being on the field that long and it's time for the game to be over, and I'm so glad it was over."
How tough was it when you guys weren't in control those last few seconds, you had to rely on the defense, to be a stand on and not be able to do anything?
"It was tough, but we just had to believe in our defense to execute their plays and make plays on defense, and that's what they did."