Oct. 3, 2007
Q. John Sullivan, there are a couple guys, Sam (Young) and Matt (Carufel), mentioned last week was probably the best week of practice you had had in pass protection. Thought that was a big reason for the improvement against Purdue. What did you see for the big reasons for that coming together for the first time that last weekend?
John Sullivan: There were some positive things in pass protection the week prior to that in practice. But I think the guys finally realized that in order to protect the quarterback, you don’t have to have perfect technique on every play; you just have to really try and you just have to really fight. I think that’s what we did against Purdue. We came out as a team in the second half and made a choice — I think we were down 23 0 — that we weren’t just going to give up the let the game get away from us. We fought back.
Q. You guys were kind of “overthinking” it in pass protection in the past?
John Sullivan: I’m not sure what it was — maybe too much focus on technique, if there can be, you know. You have to understand that in order to pass protect, it doesn’t have to be perfect on every play. You just have to do your job and fight long enough so the quarterback can get the ball off. The guys really came through and did that.
Q. Matt Carufel — what do you see from him the last couple weeks meshing into the line?
John Sullivan: I think Matt is playing really well. He’s done a really good job the past couple weeks, pass protected well. He’s in a tough spot at the right guard for us because he doesn’t have a lot of double team help at the same time. But he’s done nicely, done a nice job.
Q. Is he different from Dan (Wenger) or are they interchangeable?
John Sullivan: I don’t want to compare two players. That’s something more for the coaches to do if they were making a personnel decision. I think they both, when they’re in there, they fight hard, they’re both physical players, and they’re both really aggressive.
Q. Your recollections of the game against UCLA last year — particularly John (Carlson) and John (Sullivan) — your recollection of that last drive and the winning touchdown. Carlson first.
John Carlson: You know, I was in on pass protection I think it was the three plays we scored in, if I remember correctly. It was kind of a surreal moment, I mean, the whole drive. I think on the first play, David Grimes slipped, got up and made a diving catch for a first down. The second and third plays I think went to (Jeff) Samardzija. I was blocking, but at the same time I was kind of sitting there and watching it all unfold. Thankfully Brady (Quinn) made a couple great throws. Grimes and Samardzija made phenomenal plays to get us the win. Hopefully this week it doesn’t come down to a last minute drive.
Q. What do you remember about that?
John Sullivan: He summed it up pretty well. That’s exactly what it was like. It was surreal. I just remember the feeling as I watched Jeff go into the end zone. He slipped through a couple tackles. Realized he was still on his feet. That was a pretty great moment. Realized he was going to score, there wasn’t going to be enough time for them to come back. That was one of the most satisfying wins I think we’ve had since we’ve been here.
Q. John (Carlson) and John (Sullivan), with regard to the wristbands that they took off the quarterbacks last week, what is your perspective on that? (Quarterbacks) Coach (Ron) Powlus was talking about anybody can read a play off of a wristband, but when you take that off, have to call it, think through it, he didn’t feel like the quarterbacks had any presence in the huddle. What is your perspective on that?
John Sullivan: I think by taking off the wristband, it’s actually how Coach Powlus said. It forces you to remember the play, to know every word, know the sequence, to know what the terminology means. I think it helps the quarterback obviously, because he’s the one calling the plays, to understand the plays more in detail. I think it was a great move.
John Carlson: I think the best part about not reading the play is that you have eye contact between the quarterback and the other players in the huddle. It makes — I guess it makes me feel as a player that we’re all together, we’re all on the same page. I think John (Sullivan) explained it well.
Q. Playing against UCLA’s defense last year, I know they have a key defensive end not with them from last year, but how fast is this defense? How fast do you remember it? (Head) Coach (Charlie) Weis was talking yesterday about how fast they play.
John Carlson: They have tremendous speed and tremendous athleticism. They’re a little bit undersized, but they more than make up for it in their speed and athleticism. It makes you really focus on playing fast and being physical because we know that’s how they’re going to play, they’re really going to come after us with a lot of speed and a lot of energy.
Q. Even the interior linemen faster than most that you deal with?
John Sullivan: Yeah, they’re just fast across the board. The one thing I remember about UCLA is they don’t just have guys that are athletically talented or blessed with great speed, they’re playmakers, too. They’re good football players. They use everything they have to make plays. It’s going to take a great effort from us to go out there and really take it to that defensive front.
Q. Any one of you. You play in a lot of big stadiums. Anything special about going to play in the Rose Bowl?
Travis Thomas: Personally, I don’t think any of us have ever been there. It’s an historical stadium. I don’t think we’ve been there since 1920-something. It’s going to be an experience, a fun game.
John Carlson: I’ll just echo what Travis said. We haven’t played there. It’s one of those stadiums that are legendary, I guess, in college football. I’m excited to have the opportunity.
John Sullivan: Same thing. I’m excited to go see it for the first time.
Q. You’ve been through ups and downs. Can you talk about the attitude of the team compared to the first two seasons when the team was struggling. Is there a difference at all among the players or is it a similar feeling? What exactly is the attitude?
Travis Thomas: Right now we’re 0-5, but our outlook on things are still very positive. Everyone is still working hard and everyone still believes we can win. We’re still going out there with the mindset and the belief that we can win and we’re going to win when we step on the field. Regardless whether that has happened or not, that’s how we’re feeling and that’s how we’re approaching each and every day of practice.
Q. Is it a similar feeling to maybe your freshman, sophomore year, or was that feeling not there back then?
Travis Thomas: It’s kind of similar to maybe the first year we were here, I think we were 5-7. It really wasn’t a winning season. But at the same time guys still believed. Whether we won those games or lost, we still went out there with the mentality and attitude that we’re going to get the job done.
Q. John and John, any different feelings about that?
John Carlson: I guess the first couple years here I didn’t play, I wasn’t really in the role that I’m in right now. So it was different for me. I was just kind of observing, looking to the older guys just to see what they would do in the situations. I don’t feel like we gave up then. I certainly don’t feel like we’re giving up now. None of us wanted to be in this situation, none of us planned to be 0-5. But we still have confidence in each other. We know we’re capable of making plays and we’re capable of winning games. It’s still just a matter of continuing to work hard in practice and just to make plays on Saturday.
Q. A couple players talked yesterday about the electricity on the sideline in the second half against Purdue. How do you try to keep that going into this game? Is there something you can do, some way to capture that feeling?
John Sullivan: I think what we need to do is come out and have a fast start, keep that momentum going. If we come out, we start slow, that will break off the momentum that we got rolling last week. I think that starts in practice this week by coming out and practicing well and keeping it going throughout practice time. But we need to come out and start fast against UCLA.
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