Highlights From This Week's Press Conferences
Linebacker coaches Rocky (Seto) and Kenny (Norton) have really taken [the freshman linebackers] under their wings and have done a marvelous job preparing them, mentally and tactically and technically on how to get this done. It is a lot to ask of these guys.Pat Hill:
Early on you would ask me if it was possible for one of these linebackers to start, and I really doubted the fact that they could do that, just because there is so much stuff going on. The outside backs spot is a little easier, in [the Mike] spot, possibly.
But now that we can see these guys play, and it has taken some time, they are ready to play. They can play (on a) full time basis. That is a great asset to us. We didn't realize it would be this necessary. They have turned out all right and now we are ready to go.
We have grown to this point where we need these match-ups (with teams like Fresno State), we need these kinds of challenges. It keeps us strong and directed. We don't need to have a varying degree of opponents. We need everybody to be tough, every step of the way.
How much more difficult can it be to finish off this season? Two 9-1 teams coming at us. We have earned everything that we get this year. We are going to have to earn it this week and [in two] weeks as well.
[Fresno State has] really good players. They do a really good job; Pat [Hill] is a really good evaluator of talent. He is able to find guys that other teams don't take and make them really good players.
Their football is at the highest level, as far as offense and defense and scheme-wise. Their coaching staff has been really solid, with good continuity.
Look at the end result of their players over there. They have a lot of NFL players. You don't just make those kinds of players. You recruit those guys and then you help them become that. You find the right kinds of guys that can play up to that talent level.
I don't know what their numbers are but I am sure there are just as many NFL guys [from there] as [from] anywhere else on the West Coast, maybe more. What difference does it make where they are from if they have the right stuff to play at this level?"
I have made it really clear that I am a really big USC fan. I am from southern California; I grew up going to games at the Coliseum. In this country when you have lived in Baltimore, you have lived in Cleveland -- a lot like Pete has when he was with the Jets -- there is always something about the West. That we don't play as good of football out here.
USC has picked up the flag for the west United States, especially California, in bringing us national championships and greatness with USC football. I think that is important.
I like their attitude of playing all comers. Their schedule is not like the other schools in the country. They will play everybody. I admire their attitude and they will back it up every week.
I have a lot of respect for them as a team and their philosophy. I have a lot of respect for the way they coach them.
I talk to pro scouts all the time; I am always interested in how other teams practice. I am not interested in what they do -- just how they practice. I know how USC practices: they practice very hard, they are very aggressive in their 9 on 7 drills, they go one-on-ones. There is a reason they are as tough as they are and they play as hard as they do.
I have respect for them; I like to see tough hard nose football teams, and they are definitely a tough team.
I don't need to go through and rehash their personnel. Everybody already understands offensively their personnel. I could go through them all if you want me to; I have studied them pretty hard.
It all starts with their offensive line. I am a big Ryan Kalil fan. I really liked him out of high school. We recruited him out of Servite; I thought we had a chance. He isn't as big as people are looking for in this day and age. I think it starts with him. He is the leader of that unit. He is an outstanding, outstanding offensive center.