Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Charlie Weis is Channeling Lou Holtz

From today's presser:
Well, good morning, slash good afternoon. This is going to take a few minutes for us before we get going with questions because I have a number of things to talk about with our opponent this week. Obviously, they have been ranked in the top 10 for 37 games. They have won 38 out of their last 39, including 27 straight, which, obviously, is a great accomplishment.

They have been at the top of the AP's poll for the last 25 polls, and the biggest out of all the things, they are trying to become the only team to win three consecutive national titles. They have a great head coach, Pete Carroll. He has been there for five years now. His record is 47 and 9, that's an 84 percent winning percentage. And the scary thing, I know one of the big deals or his big deals is emphasis on outscoring opponents in the second half and over his career, they've outscored them 1,041 to 449 which I'd say is quite a difference.

Lane Kiffin, their offensive coordinator. He has been, you know, at USC for five years, son of Monty Kiffin who I have known for quite sometime with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, this offense is high powered, but really I am going to talk today about they have outscored their opponents 258 to 96, including 168 to 42 in the second half this year. They are averaging 604 yards a game, and the scary thing is 349 comes by pass and another 291 comes by rush.

I think in all of the research I came out with, as far as their offensive players, the thing that is most impressive that this group is on pace to be the first group in history to have a 3,000 yard passer, with two 1,000 yard rushers and two 1,000 yard receivers. That's kind of scary. You know, (Matt) Leinart not only is their captain, quarterback, but he has had a chance to win back to back Heisman trophies. His record as a starter is 30 and 1. He spreads the ball around. He has got five receivers that has 10 catches or more, completes about two thirds of his passes and throws four touchdown passes for every interception.

At running back, pick your poison. I mean, do you want me to talk about Bush, do you want me to talk about White. It really doesn't take much to realize they have got two dynamic running backs. You know, Reggie (Bush) is well, first of all, between the two of them, in the last 31 games, they have scored 72 touchdowns. For three straight weeks, both of them have rushed for over 100 yards. Now, Reggie is their captain. He reminds me of Marshall Falk. He can do it all. 194 yards a game. He is a dynamic returner, both in the punt game and the kickoff game. He can run the ball. He can catch. He can pick up the blitz. He is averaging eight and a half yards a carry. He is a very, very, very good player.

I think (LenDale) White sometimes gets lost in the limelight because of both Leinart and Bush. Here's the big guy at 6'2", 235 that's really been their leading rusher for last two years. He's got 10 touchdowns already and he only averages 7.6 a carry. So there is a big drop off from that 8.5 that Reggie averages per carry. And while we're at it, we might as well throw (Desmond) Reed into the mix because he has touched the ball 23 times and he is averaging 13 yards every time he touches the ball. So, you can't, when 22 comes on the field, all of a sudden, say, `Okay great, we have got those other two guys off the field.'

I think one of the more underrated guys on the team is actually their fullback (David) Kirtman. They throw the ball to him, 12 catches for a 14-yard average, and helps round out that offense. I will get to (Dominique) Byrd and the tight ends here in a couple of minutes.

At wide receiver, you know, they have got two dynamic wide receivers in (Dwayne) Jarrett and (Steve) Smith. Jarrett is the big guy, 6'5", 210, 35 catches, 467 yards, nine touchdowns, over 13 yards a catch. He's played 18 games in his career and has 22 touchdowns. So obviously, he is a go to guy. And he is from Jersey, too, so I have a little soft spot for Jersey guys. Smith has got 27 catches for 575 yards, so he is averaging more per catch and a little over 21 yards a catch. And then they can throw in (Patrick) Turner and (Chris) McFoy as well, if they want to go to three or four wide receiver sets. And at tight end, Byrd is a big guy. He is another guy like Kirtman that a lot of times goes unnoticed. And they do play multiple tight end sets. They have more of a receiving second tight end (Fred) Davis and more of a blocker in (Dale) Thompson.

I think out of the whole offense though the position that gets most underrated out of all offensive positions are their offensive linemen. I've already said they averaging 291 yards rushing a game. All these guys are returning starters. Actually, literally four of them are returning starters from last year, but the one that didn't play last year started the two years before that. So you can get to know (Winston) Justice, (Fred) Matua, (Ryan) Kalil, (Taitusi) Lutui and (Sam) Baker. Get to know those guys, probably the most underrated position they have. Obviously, they're the biggest key to making that whole offense go.

Defensively, Pete is the defensive coordinator. They're giving up less than 20 points a game and scoring more than 50 points a game. It doesn't take a math major to figure it, that's a 30-point differential. They have got two pass rushing defensive ends in (Frostee) Rucker and (Lawrence) Jackson and they both have four sacks. (LaJuan) Ramsey is coming back. It isn't like any big secret that he is coming back this week. They add another guy to their inside players. Get to the linebackers. (Oscar) Lua, he is leading the team in tackles. He had 10 last week. (Thomas) Williams is playing Sam - (Dallas) Sartz may or may not be back, he is their captain. He may or may not be back, but that doesn't make too much of a difference because Williams is really playing well, as well as (Keith) Rivers, on the weak side.

Pete has notoriously always had good safeties play for him. He has always been strong up the middle. You notice Lua is the leading tackler at linebacker. He has always been good at safety. Their captain (Darnell) Bing, he is their strong safety, where their pre safety both are solid players. That's even before you get to (John) Walker and (Justin) Wyatt outside.

And to top everything off, let's talk about their kickers. You know, (Tom) Malone is one the best punters in the country. Unfortunately, he doesn't get much action. And (Mario) Danelo, he does a great job of kicking extra points because that's about all he is doing. I think he is 30 for 30 on extra points. He has tried three field goals this year.

When I talked earlier about Bush, you know, I talked about him as a returner. You also can't forget about Reed because he has got four returns this year, that he is averaging over 40 yards a return every time he touches the ball. Obviously, they have weapons on offense. They got weapons on defense. They're very well coached. They are the No. 1 team in the country and they deserve to be.