USC Football

Pac12 Media Day: Coaches Round Up

July 24, 2019

Throughout the day  we collected quotes & comments from coaches and players as it related to USC.  Here's some of what we heard...

Q. What new challenges are being presented by USC this year with them moving to the air raid offense?

JUSTIN WILCOX: All the offenses create challenges.  There's different ways. I know they'll have great players, they'll be well-coached, and just like the other teams in our conference.  If you look top to bottom in our conference, the quality of the players and the coaching is extraordinary.  I know SC will be loaded and I know they'll be well-coached, and we kind of do our work on us.

I'm sure their version of the air-raid or whatever you want to call it will be different. They'll have wrinkles. Everybody has got wrinkles. No two teams are the same. So we know it'll be a hell of a challenge when we line up against them.

Q. Your schedule currently has nine games, but there's really more like 10 games(plays Notre Dame every year). How would you feel if the conference went back to eight games where you had no more than four road games and four home games?  I realize that that probably would impact your recruiting in California, but I would like your thoughts on that.

DAVID SHAW: I've been consistent here. I'm a proponent for universally having the same schedule and practices. So if that means the SEC and other conferences go to nine conference games like us, great.  It those don't change and we go back to eight, then I say great. Once we started this playoff, we've had this conversation so many times, we need to have some uniformity.  It's the only way that makes sense. 

Earlier I brought up USC not going to the College Football Playoff after winning our conference, and Alabama not winning their conference and going to the playoff.  Alabama was good enough and the committee picked them for all the right reasons to go, but when you compare their schedules, the schedules didn't compare.   USC played nine conference games and Notre Dame and didn't have a bye. That was a very, very tough and difficult schedule that they navigate and did a great job navigating, win the Pac-12 Championship but didn't get a chance to go to the playoff.   But you couldn't really compare the schedules.  You could look and say, okay, this team is better, this team could go.  But we're trying to get to a point where we can truly evaluate the schedules and look at teams uniformly, and we haven't been able to do that.  At some point I do believe we need to have more schedule uniformity.

Q. Being the second game of the year, what challenges does USC and the air-raid offense present to you considering their skill players?

DAVID SHAW: You know what, there are different versions of the air-raid, so it'll be interesting to see their version that they bring to the table in the Pac-12. It'll be different than what Mike Leach does up at Washington State.  I know they have the talent and they have guys that they get the ball to.  That's what's going to be really interesting and a challenge for us.  I really like our secondary, but that's going to be a heck of a match-up early in the year between their passing game and our passing defense game.

Q. Staying with the schedule changes...your feelings pros and cons of always playing your first conference game of the year against USC?

DAVID SHAW:  Personally, I love it. I think it's a rivalry.

It's funny, you ask our team who our biggest rival is, and some will say Cal and some will say USC and some will say Oregon and some will say Washington and some will say Notre Dame.   But USC is one of those games I think that they -- the USC fan base loves the rivalry, we love the rivalry.  When we were becoming the Pac-12 North and South and deciding how we were going to schedule, and the four of us -- Stanford, Cal, USC and UCLA -- said, you know what, we think it would be great to continue to play each other.

Some people have fallen off of that, but for me personally, I think it's been a positive for both teams. I think they're big games. I think we've been using each other to measure ourselves against early in each year. I think our games have been exciting every year.

Q. Graham Harrell, what made him a good fit?

MIKE LEACH: Starting out in high school, he threw it alot in high school. When Graham left high school, hewas I believe at least for a while the all-time leadingpasser in history in the state of Texas. His dad is greatstudent of the game. He threw it well in his high schoolthere, and his dad was his coach. He started outthrowing it.I also think it's one of those things that as they're sittingat the dinner table passing the potatoes and thevegetables, whatnot, there's probably some footballbeing passed back and forth, too.He came to us as a pretty good student of the game,and a sharp guy. Then he was a guy that could watchfilm fairly quickly and pull quite a lot off of it. But hereally did a good job. He was a great player for us,great guy to work with.

Q. Has Graham Harrell reached out to you for any advice?

MIKE LEACH: We talk off and on. I guess from time totime. I mean, we end up talking about a bunch of otherthings, so I don't always remember why he called, to beperfectly honest. But we'll call and text, yeah

Q. I know you said the schedule is what it is, but having to open conference with USC

KYLE WHITTINGHAM: Yeah, at a place we haven'twon for, like, 100 years or something

Q. In a way is it good to play them first so youknow you have the rest of the season?

KYLE  WHITTINGHAM: You know, that's a tough question. I don't have a great answer for it. I know they're always loaded with talent. And even thoughthey're picked No. 2 in the South right now, their talent level is as good as -- in my estimation, as good as it'sever been. So it's going to be a tough match-up for us.


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