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Nebraska - USC: Inside the Mind of Pete Carroll

Fellow Sportsblog Nation blog Conquest Chronicles has lead with a couple articles about the USC game, putting themselves in our shoes.  So we spent a few hours last evening inside the mind of Pete Carroll using a hunza-based channeling technique. Took a while to get past the bubbles, but we now know what Carroll is thinking about Saturday night.

Score First, Score Fast

Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska is a tough place to play. Even tougher that it's a night game. People will have spent all day 'preparing' for the game, so they'll be ready to go. I need to take them out of the game and the way we do that is by scoring early and often. If we can't score often, then we at least want to score early.

Inside Pete Carroll's Head? The "Happy Happy Joy Joy" Song.

I need to establish the run, test that defensive line in the middle first, and then see how well we can block the outside - how well our guys get out there on the perimeter and how well Nebraska pursues.  We'll run in, then run out. Nebraska's defense is eager to get a stop and make an early statement, so I'll take advantage of that.

On the first series, I'll start off with some runs and see what we get. If into a short yardage situation, I'll try a trick play, either a halfback pass, or a pass back to quarterback John David Booty, my Heisman candidate quarterback. This will accomplish a few things:

  • It'll make Nebraska guess on defense for the rest of the game. They'll have to respect the fact that I might do something else tricky, especially those guys in the secondary.
  • It has the psychological affect of killing Bill Callahan's trick plays. I'm not sure why that is, but I know that if you're going to run a trick play, you want to run it before the other guy runs his. Maybe that's because everyone is aware of them after that, and they're mentally prepared to recognize them. Bill has a lot of really good trick plays and I don't want to be beaten by one of them.

Pound The Rock?

Anyone who watches football knows that Nebraska needs to establish some sort of ground game to win this game. Everyone is after Bill about his game plan last season, and I wouldn't be surprised if he does roughly the same thing again this year because I don't think Bill gives a damn what anyone thinks besides his boss and his family and because without a ground game, the Huskers won't have a chance.

We won't let Nebraska run the ball. We'll put seven guys in the box, and we'll vary our blitzes to confuse Sam Keller. Ah, Keller. Another reason why Nebraska has to run the ball. You can't put the biggest game in several years all on the shoulders one of guy, even if you think he might be capable of bearing the weight. What if he gets hurt? What if he does something stupid, as college-aged kids, especially young men, are prone to do?

Awaken the Devil-Ghost of Sam Keller

I remember Sam Keller at Arizona State. Keller might gain some yards against us, but I'm betting he hasn't changed much since a couple years ago when it comes to the game on the field.  He seems to still have the problem of staring down his receivers, one of those quarterbacks that gets tunnel vision after he's been pressured or hit a couple times. Watch him as he walks up to the line of scrimmage - which receivers is he looking at? Which is he staring at?

That should be good for at least a couple interceptions. Game over, then go have a good steak. I'm actually looking forward to Nebraska. Haven't been there in years.


It was an interesting trip. Carroll's mind is mostly like his persona. Gooey, bubbly, perky happy. Little dolls with big eyes wearing USC uniforms. Kind of a like a six-year old with ADD except that there's this constant hum that keeps it in rhythm. There's not any real dark spots, like we've seen inside the minds of some other coaches, but that's another story.

Oh there is one more thing. He really wants those 19 points back if you were wondering. He wants them all.