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September 8, 2009

Carroll opens up about Ohio State

Through the early days this week, Pete Carroll and the Trojans have been asked about how they will deal with the noise in the Horseshoe will be on Saturday. Or how they will stop Terrelle Pryor. Or how true freshman Matt Barkley will handle leading the Trojans on the road for the first time.

Carroll listened to these questions and without hesitation responded that USC will do what it always has - focus on themselves despite the environment.

"We want to carry all of the same elements it takes to play well in that challenge," Carroll said. "The difference in this game is really the noise. It's the noise that is the factor, and we have to deal with that really well. But we have to keep it in the right perspective and make sure we take our ability to play well into the setting and do that.

"If we do that, it's like we've done in other years, then we'll have a chance to win. If we don't, we'll get hammered, you know. So that's our whole approach is to stay the same, and to play like we're capable of playing regardless of what the circumstances are around us."

Even though the game has been hyped as the marquee non-conference game of the year, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel knows that the atmosphere Saturday at 'the Shoe' will be rocking.

"They love the sport of football," Tressel said. "Add to it that Southern Cal, which is storied in the history of football, storied in the history of Ohio State football with some very important games over the years having been played against them and the respect they have for their excellence, they're absolutely excited about the game."

While a new chapter in the history books will be written when the Trojans roll into Columbus, no doubt Ohio State fans will be looking for a little revenge (and Big 10 pride) after how they played in last year's 35-3 loss at the Coliseum.

"What I remember is a very, very good football team, (and) that we made way too many mistakes to be competitive," Tressel said.

The Trojans know that despite being on the road this time against Ohio State, their focus remains the same.

"No matter where you're at, whether you're at home or you're on the road, if you're playing in front of 50,000 or 100,000, you come to play every game," Damian Williams said. "You have to bring your 'A' game because you're really playing against yourself. If you go out there and take care of business and get your part done, then everything will take care of itself."

As much as the Trojans want to focus on playing within themselves, undoubtedly their focus on defense will be on the mobile Pryor.

"I've always said that the most difficult aspect of defending an opponent is when they have a quarterback that can run and run on plays that aren't designed to be quarterback running plays," Carroll says. "When a pass starts and it breaks down and it takes off, it becomes a sweep or a draw or a scramble situation. It's just so out of the normal structure, that, you know, anything can happen. So that's an x factor that a running quarterback presents."

Carroll also has his own x factor to deal with in how Barkley fares in his first road game. Although he passed his first test against San Jose State, Carroll is excited to see how the freshman will handle his biggest test so far.

"I would think he's going to have fun with it," he said. "And he's going to be excited to see what it looks like to be in an on opponent's stadium of that stature and all. And then he's going to go play. I don't think it will matter to him at all. That's just the way he's been and how he's handled things and he has such confidence and such comfort in his own skin. That will be extended into the setting as well."

Which quarterback handles the spotlight (and defense) better remains to be seen, but for the Trojans, they're following Carroll's lead and concentrating on themselves.

"It's one of those things; it's kind of like where you bond with your brothers," Williams said. "It's us against the world and we're going to go in there and practice hard this week and prepare and hopefully take care of business."


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