January 1, 2005
JOHN HUMENIK: Introductions from your right to left, Lofa Tatupu, Sean Cody, Ed Orgeron, Matt Grootegood, Mike Patterson, Darnell Bing, Jason Leach. Again, first ten minutes to Coach Orgeron.
Q. Coach, I was wondering, I know you had to do a little bit of double duty the last couple weeks. Have you done that as well this week or are you very focused on USC this week?
ED ORGERON: My focus this week has been focusing on beating Oklahoma, which is a tremendous challenge. I feel it's the best football team we've played since I've been at USC, and I think that my focus has been strictly on beating Oklahoma.
Q. Coach, first of all, congratulations on your new job that you have down the road.
ED ORGERON: Thank you.
Q. Oklahoma, when you said they're the best team that you think that you've played, are you prepared for it since you've been at USC? Could you get into that a little bit more? Is it because of personnel, schematics?
ED ORGERON: I think it's the overall scheme that we have, which starts in recruiting. I'm the recruiting coordinator. We battle Oklahoma head-to-head for some of the top players in the nation. That has changed since I've been there. In the past it was Notre Dame, Florida State. Oklahoma has taken over the national spotlight, battling for Adrian Peterson and some other players, so I believe that their talent level is amongst the best in the country. They have an excellent offensive line. They've only given up seven sacks this year, have a great player in Adrian Peterson. He's fast, he's a work horse. They have a great quarterback, great receiving corps, great special teams, and they play great defense and they're extremely well coached. They have it all. I think this is a similar football team to what we are today, and I think it's going to be a great match-up, just what you'd expect in a National Championship game.
Q. I just wanted to follow up a little bit more on Adrian Peterson. What special problems does he present for you guys, and is there a player that you've played against that's similar?
ED ORGERON: There's nobody that's similar. He's bigger than Reggie. In practice Adrian breaks a lot of tackles. He's very strong, very strong in the lower body. I recruited Adrian. He's very fast. They have a great scheme, he hits the line fast. There's a couple of players we're going to try to get him out on the edge and create mismatches with cornerbacks and he just runs them over, so I think he can do everything. He's tough. His nickname is AD; his daddy named him that for All Day because he can go all day. We're fixing to find out if he can. I just think he's a great back.
Q. Ed, you were recruiting Peterson, but were you surprised he's been able to have such a big impact so quickly?
ED ORGERON: Yeah. To be able to do what he's doing on a national level, yes, we thought he was going to be an outstanding back. I didn't think he could do it that fast at that level.
Q. Ed, you were around a lot of big games at Miami, now at USC. Where does this game rank in terms of pre-game buildup, hype, anticipation, those kinds of things?
ED ORGERON: Right at the top. Those games against Notre Dame and Florida State were big games. I think this one ranks with the Florida State games where it took everything we had. I remember us being in the locker room after those Florida State games, players with IV bags in them, coaches needed IV bags. We gave it everything we had and it was a battle that came down to the last play, evenly matched football teams, very aggressive, and I expect the same match here.
Q. What impresses you about their offensive line and what has led them to give up so few sacks?
ED ORGERON: They're extremely talented. They win their single blocks. We have a thing on defense that we have to win our single blocks. You can see that their all-American tackle Jammal Brown reaches defensive ends and Adrian comes around their corner, their center. They don't have to schematically double team a lot of people. They can win their one-on-one blocks. I think that's one of the best things they do physically to their opponents.
Q. Could you go into a little more detail on recruiting against Oklahoma? I mean, how often, how many guys is it year to year, and what's your best pitch when you're selling a kid on USC and against Oklahoma?
ED ORGERON: Well, what happens is we need to win in California. I tell the guys, "Why go out of state when you can get everything you want here at SC that's just as good?" I think because we're a private school, that's a big-time advantage for us. We play freshmen, so does Oklahoma. I think if we go into Texas or we go into Oklahoma, to try to beat Oklahoma, they're probably going to win most of the time, so if we can win all our battles in the state of California we've done a good job.
JOHN HUMENIK: We'll get started with directed questions now just towards the players.
Q. This question is for Matt. What are your memories or your thoughts about the way that Leinart has developed since you guys were teammates in high school? And I understand that in your junior year you started ahead of him at quarterback. Do you wish you had stayed with that maybe?
MATT GROOTEGOOD: Yeah, Leinart, I've known him since I was in 7th grade, but in high school he played behind me in my junior year but then he took the position. Through the years he's definitely progressed and his maturity level has definitely grown leaps and bounds. The great part about it is he's pretty much staying on an even keel. You know, he has all the hype and the Heisman and everything, but he still stays focused and still plays the game and works hard.
Q. Darnell, from Oklahoma, the way they do things offensively and how they approach their scheme, you're involved in so much that happens for Southern Cal on the back end defensively especially. Talk about what you see in Oklahoma and what kind of involvement you and the safeties are going to have to have in USC to try to put Oklahoma in check?
DARNELL BING: It will mainly have to do with making sure we can get our defense right, stay down and pretty much don't let anything get behind us, and we'll be pretty good from there.
Q. Lofa, let's go back to chasing Reggie Bush around in practice, now that you've had time to think about it.
LOFA TATUPU: Frustrating. He's highly elusive, he'll beat you with speed, but he's about 210 pounds and he'll run you over, too. You've got to make sure you've got your balance and bring your legs. You just hold on and wait for the cavalry to bring you up.
JOHN HUMENIK: We'll go ahead and excuse the players and they will go back into the private interview areas.
Q. Do you have a philosophy how you're going to go about things initially at Old Miss? Do you have a big picture type of thing?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, we've got to win the state of Mississippi. There's a lot of great players there. We'll have to do a great job of evaluating each school and making sure that the players that can play in the state of Mississippi are coming to Old Miss and just battle for the top players and get those players. Go out of state, we'll use the same philosophy as USC, get the players that need positions as first round draft choices. Obviously Memphis is right near Old Miss and is going to be close to us and be a major recruiting influence and so is New Orleans with my background in eating gumbo (laughter).
Q. You mentioned the talent at Old Miss -- in the state of Mississippi. Talk about that, how many players there are there every year.
ED ORGERON: I think it's great. There's a lot of speed. There's undeveloped talent. They're not as heavily recruited say as in the Los Angeles and Orange County area. There's not a lot of guys that go in there, so you're competing mainly with Mississippi State and SEC schools, plus people have a tremendous loyalty to Old Miss football, and those parents grew up watching Old Miss football and wanting their son to be a Rebel. I think that's going to help us.
Q. From your background recruiting, if there's hypothetically a kid on the fence between SC and Oklahoma at this point, does this game have a real pronounced effect on where that kid might go?
ED ORGERON: In some cases it does have an effect. It all depends on the type of job you've done with the kid recruiting. If you get to him and you've done a great job recruiting, the game does not have an effect. I think if you haven't got to the young man like you should and he's kind of on the fence, yeah it could have an effect. I would expect if we were recruiting a kid that this would not have an effect. I'd work it in that manner. One game should not decide where you go to school.
Q. The National Title games often, even when you have high-powered offenses, they're going to be low-scoring, tight defensive battles. Do you anticipate that Tuesday night, and if not, why not?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, sometimes teams get conservative. We expect them to try to run the football on us, and we expect it to be a great defensive battle. They have a great defense and so do we. As a defensive coach we never want to get in a high-scoring game, but I expect that, yeah. We have to win the turnover battle, and I expect we'll have also to play great on special teams and not let Antonio Perkins make a great play on us. We have to win at the line of scrimmage, we have to prevent the big play, we have to tackle. In a game like this you have to tackle, especially with Adrian. We have to pressure the quarterback with a four-man rush and we have to stay deep and win the turnover battle. That's been our philosophy since we got there.
Q. If you were to attack your defense, where do you think people -- where would you attack it?
ED ORGERON: Well, you have to establish the run. You have to establish the run and figure out a way to block Mike Patterson. I think he's a kid that is unusual at his position. If you can't block Mike, it's a long day, so we first of all have to start out blocking him. Second of all, you have to try to get to the perimeter, create mismatches and see if our guys can tackle you and then try to get the big play on us, keep us off balance.
Q. If you look at Matt, he almost seems undersized for a DB, let alone a linebacker. How does it pull it off with his physical skills?
ED ORGERON: He's a shark (laughter). He is. He's a shark smelling blood in the water. That's all he is, just relentless. He's a great young man. He's the toughest pound-to-pound football player I've ever been around, not only physically, mentally. That's probably the most words I've heard him say there in his four years here. He's a great competitor. He knows how to tackle, get off a block. He's compact. I relate him to the small running backs. When you look at the small running backs, you want to know how can they play so well when they're so compact and so explosive. That's exactly how Matt is. He's a really smart football player.
Q. There's a couple Oklahoma assistants who have said privately, "Wait until Adrian Peterson learns technique." How do you react to that? Do you see a guy that's getting by just on instinct now?
ED ORGERON: Yeah, we see a lot of that, but I don't see his technique being so bad. You probably would say that about every freshman. That's a natural statement. I'm sure they see some things at practice on a daily basis that he can get better at, like we all do, and once he gets there, I think he is going to be one of the greatest backs to play college football.
End of FastScripts...