Aug 13, 2020

USC’s Carroll not surprised by top 10 tumult

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Southern California coach Pete Carroll wasn’t particularly surprised by the tumult in college football’s top 10 over the weekend.

“Very good teams that looked great early in the season got beat,” Carroll said Tuesday. “Florida, Oklahoma, they looked like terrific football teams, and they still are terrific teams. They just got beat.

“It’s really hard to win every week, particularly when you get into your conference. You really have to find consistency and survive the bad days, like we did. You have to survive when things aren’t quite right and the other team plays great.”

The Trojans barely survived in Seattle on Saturday, and their mistake-filled, 27-24 victory over Washington dropped them to No. 2 behind LSU in The Associated Press rankings.

Carroll said it’s still too early to tell much about teams.

“The schedule separates. It’s just what happens,” he said. “It’s why you don’t pass judgment now and you don’t vote teams into the hall of fame or players into the Heisman Trophy or any of that stuff right now.

“You wait and you keep playing and you hope in time you prove who you are and what you’re all about. It’s why you play 12, 13 games.”

USC overcame 16 penalties, three turnovers, a blocked punt and a string of dropped passes among other mistakes, and still held off the Huskies.

“You might think we went in the locker room and yelled at everybody,” Carroll said. “That’s not what happened at all. This was a great win under the circumstances. How much harder could we make it on us?

“It wasn’t about Washington, no disrespect to them at all, it was about us. That’s how it always is.”

He grinned and added, “The Trojans were tough on us last week.”

Guard Jeff Byers considers the game a “character-builder” for USC.

“Now it’s how do we come out the next week and the next week. What did we learn from this game and how do we get better,” he said. “We were definitely off our mark against Washington and we definitely need to improve.

“It’s all about focus and mental discipline and mental toughness, and that’s what we’re going out there this weekend and try to show the world.”

Carroll laughed and said he should have realized thing might go a bit awry against the Huskies even before he got on the field.

“I walked out of the locker room and my shoes were tied together,” he said. “I was screwed up at the start of the game, so maybe it started with me. I was struggling before I got out there, so maybe I should have known.”

USC faces Stanford on Saturday at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Trojans have won 35 in a row. Stanford was the last team to beat the Trojans in Los Angeles, in 2001.

Carroll said the “football gods” cause the ball to bounce in your favor sometimes, in your opponents’ favor on others.

“You’re going to have to overcome all that stuff. We’re going to have to do it again,” he said. “Maybe this week and maybe next week, the teams are going to have our number, or somebody’s going to be hot and the wind is going to blow and things happen.

“That’s why we talk all the time — you have to respect the game.”

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