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January 1, 2009
GINA CHAPPIN: Coach Carroll is on his way. We get started with questions for our student athletes. Questions for our student athletes.
Q. Mark, I take it the big story for USC this here has been USC's defense. How important was it for you guys on the offensive side of the ball in particular to step up today?
MARK SANCHEZ: We knew that Penn State would be a formidable opponent, like we said before the game. Offensively, Coach Sarkisian, Coach Ruel, Yogi Roth, it really was a testament to their game plan to our team staying focused, buying into the preparation and bringing it on game day.
We executed well, and we knew we were going to have to play well in a big time game, and that's when big time players showed up and our offense did that.
Q. Mark, you almost feel like maybe they turned you loose today offensively?
MARK SANCHEZ: I don't know about that. I think we really just maximized our potential, and all over the field the running backs took a lot of pressure off me. The O-line kept me on my feet. The receivers were clicking.
So, you know, I don't know if it was a matter of opening up the playbook or us just executing very well, but, you know, maybe a little of both. It was something special to be a part of. I'm really honored.
Q. Were either of you surprised that Penn State kicked a field goal with seven minutes to go? They were down by I guess 38-14 at the time. Were you thankful they did that?
KALUKA MAIAVA: Just shows they're still competing. Didn't give up. The final score wasn't that much, the gap between the first quarter and fourth quarter. Trying to compete and come back.
MARK SANCHEZ: It looked like they needed a field goal anyway with the score. They needed to score the 38 like we did. Didn't we kick a field goal?
Q. They could have gotten within two scores.
MARK SANCHEZ: Then, you know, we almost blocked the kick, but they kicked a field goal. Schematically they made it, and playing the chess game and it could go either way. If they score a touchdown, you know, maybe things were closer. All I know is what happened, I guess, and it was special to be a part of and glad we came out on top.
Q. Kaluka, this team has been about defense most of the year. The defense has gotten all the attention. Did you guys kind of yield the stage to the offense today and let them do spectacular things?
KALUKA MAIAVA: We like to. It's all around the team, offense, special teams, defense, we fly around and make plays, and that's why we feel we're the best and can play with anybody. We do that on game day.
Q. Mark, going into this with the game plan, what did you see with where you might be able to be successful against what they did?
MARK SANCHEZ: They're a tough team. In the secondary they were -- they're all seniors, so seen a lot of football. We saw in the schemes speed on the outside, all-out team speed, and on offense we try to exploit that and get the ball to the edge. We mixed up the run and pass so they couldn't really key on anything, and, you know, that's a testament to Sark making the right calls and putting us in the right position to make the plays, and on this day this team came fired up and really executed.
Q. Mark, you made it -- it looked awful easy watching the game. Did it feel as easy out there on the field?
MARK SANCHEZ: I think Sark always tell me every week before a game -- this game he had a whole month to remind me -- that you're going to prepare so well, and in the game you play free, there's nothing to worry about. You go out and play like you've been playing since you were seven years old.
I tried to play smart and take care of the football. I think we did that on offense, and things really clicked. It was an all-out team effort, and I think this team was real loose.
Q. To Mark, do you think this changes the situation at all about going to the NFL?
MARK SANCHEZ: I haven't thought about it. I'm going to celebrate this victory first and worry about it somewhere down the line. I'm excited that I have a great coach to talk about it with. He's the one who has brought up everything to me, and he'll give me all the right information, but it's going to be hard to say goodbye to this place. I don't think I can do it.
Q. Kaluka, for you, Brian and Rey, you all came in the same recruiting class. You're all leaving together. What's your thoughts as a unit?
KALUKA MAIAVA: It's a great win tonight, and Brian and Rey are just ridiculous. Those guys are beasts. It's crazy we all came in together, and can't ask for anything more.
Q. Mark, what went through your mind when you were directing the band afterward and you heard the chant "One more year, one more year"?
MARK SANCHEZ: That feeling on the steps, the ladder, that is something special. You know, I'll remember that forever, obviously, and then the band when your fans start chanting that, that means a lot for a whole crowd to rally around you.
Really, they're chanting for the whole team, because I obviously can't do it alone. It was a great team effort today. Like I said, it's too fun, too exciting. I don't know. I'm so happy right now. This is unbelievable.
GINA CHAPPIN: Guys, we're going to let you get back to your team and celebrate. Thank you.
We'll open it up for Coach, questions.
Q. Coach, there was talk about the offense being inconsistent and maybe they're overshadowed by the defense. With this performance and with what you've seen all year, will you say that was a fair thing to say, that they were inconsistent, and what does it say what you did today?
COACH PETE CARROLL: We did a little bit different approach this year. We realized we could win football games by complementing what our defense was doing, and in essence they're not -- not give our opponent a chance. There were a couple games like that during the schedule, the Cal game, and I think people started to talk like that.
This is a terrific offense. We've got all kinds of weapons. Mark is a great quarterback, as you saw tonight, the fire power that we have. We did all this without Joe in there. Joe is a big part of this game plan tonight.
I thought you saw the kind of offense we needed to win this football game. Great defensive front. They played well again tonight. We hit some plays. But for the most part we had to throw the football to win the game, and that was altogether where we needed.
I think we can -- there's times we've run to win the game and times we throw the football and times to play defense. This is a terrific football team. Having that kind of flexibility showed up here tonight.
Q. Coach, congratulations. In terms of your past and former quarterbacks, how would you rate the performance of Mark Sanchez tonight?
COACH PETE CARROLL: He's had a big a night as ever. He played the same kind of football that Carson and Booty and Leinart played. His numbers are right there and with Leinart. There's no doubt that he's just as capable as being the best player in America, given a whole other year if he does.
There's nothing about his game that holds him back. He's a great player in all areas. It was great to see him come through tonight and let everybody see it one last time for the season.
Q. Coach, you talk about the defense, kind of in the middle of the season, base the team around that. Do you see the torch kind of passing with the offense going into next season?
COACH PETE CARROLL: I think we should expect our offense to really be ahead of the defense early on in that everybody is returning but Patrick, and if he comes back with everybody like we had left the season, it's going to be a really, really powerful group. We're just going to be better.
Defensively we have a lot of transition to take care of. We did it on offense last year and -- there's some guys that are just chomping at the bit and waiting in the wings for their time now, and there will be some new kids coming in that will contribute as well.
You know, I don't see us having to take a lot of steps backwards here in the transition, but we'll definitely be excited about the ability, the experience of this offensive side of the ball.
Q. Pete, your quarterback started the senior season, made the most of it. What will you say about that?
COACH PETE CARROLL: We've already been talking about it and sit down and put all the forces together in that -- that which we can accumulate, and then they have to make the decision on the thing.
I know you can see Mark loves USC, he wants to play here and all that. We just have to see how compelling an argument you can make for him going. It's not clear. This is going to be a challenge for us to put the information together, and I'm way beyond trying to hold on to guys. That's not how we do this.
We tell them what the story is and with all of the information, inside scoops that we can get and all the real stuff that we can draw from, and we put together, kind of this is laid out and this is what's going to happen. We've been very accurate.
You've seen our guys in the last three, four years have decided not to leave early for the most part in general because it's not in their best interests to do so.
So as we go through it, we'll find out. Then I'll tell them exactly what my heart is telling me with all the information that we have, and then it will be up to them to evaluate.
Taylor Mayes is in the same situation for us. Couple other guys. We'll go through it and really take our time doing it. This should not be an emotional decision. We have to get away from the emotion to make sure we make a very clear-cut decision for him.
Q. Pete, to follow up on something you said on the stage after the game, you feel the way your team is playing right now, you had a chance to play Florida or Oklahoma that could you beat those teams.
COACH PETE CARROLL: In all due respect to those two great programs and the great season that they've had -- and I don't take anything away, that's not my deal at this time -- I don't think anybody can beat us. I think we can beat anybody we play.
We've been this way a lot of times at the end of the season. There's only a glitch in the years we've been in this situation where I thought maybe somebody could get us. We got beat by Texas a few years ago. This is a terrific program right now. There's so many things we can do as you can see tonight. We can play D, throw the football if we have to, we can play teams and all of that and run the ball.
We're just really, really hard to beat right now. Basically that's because the defense has been so consistent all year long. Again, we've got a BCS Championship game coming up. The team that wins that gets the crystal ball. They deserve that, and that's what the system tells you. They've earned every bit of it, and they're fantastic teams and well coached. I wish we could keep playing. That's all.
GINA CHAPPIN: Two more questions.
Q. Just what do you do tomorrow workwise, and do you think this victory will help you -- I'm wondering. How do you think this victory will help you recruiting?
COACH PETE CARROLL: Well, first off, tomorrow I'm not going to do very much. Going to kind of hang out. This weekend fits in for us, we do get a break, and take it and go back to recruiting as the week starts up again on Sunday night.
That's what's in order. I'm going to hang out. The weather is so good in Southern California, you ought to stay a couple more days if you're from out of town and enjoy that.
In terms of recruiting, this just adds to everything, all the momentum we always try to build in the process. I think our kids that are all over the country, bunch of kids playing in all-star games all together will probably watch this game together. I hope they saw the stuff they want to be apart of.
We got the word at halftime that somebody called from somewhere, and I don't know where -- this is a real Wizard of Oz phone call -- and told the officials if we continue to celebrate on the sidelines they're going to have to throw a 15-yard penalty on us. That's the most awesome thing I ever heard. We're having so much fun they want a 15-yard penalty.
We told the guys we were having so much fun jumping up and down, it spilled onto the field a little bit. We found a way in this program to not only win but to have an outlook to really capture the very most that's offered by the season. That's why coming to the Rose Bowl was such a big deal. This is what we had in front of us. We were going to do everything we could to make it as fun and deeply passionate in an effort as we could possibly muster.
That's what you saw. We're thrilled the way this worked out. I was going to get the penalty called on us just so we could get a penalty called on us for having too much fun. I forgot in the fourth quarter. Where did that phone call come from? That's what we were told by the officials.
GINA CHAPPIN: Final question on the right.
Q. Coach Carroll, in your opinion is the regular season the regular season, or is the regular season a playoff?
COACH PETE CARROLL: To me the regular season is a playoff. Every game we play is a championship game. I've never said anything different to these guys. Doesn't merit where we're playing, in conference, out of conference, on the road, whatever. Every game counts and adds into our situation. We play them all as championship games and do everything we can every single time we go out to make it the biggest game in the kids' lives when we do it and do it all over again the next week.
You saw the culmination of a team that knows how to do that. That's what they displayed tonight in this football team.
GINA CHAPPIN: Coach, thanks very much.
End of FastScripts