September 9, 2008

Carroll and Tressel excited for showdown

Some of the best dodging during the early weeks of the USC season hasn't come on the field. It's not been Joe McKnight or C.J. Gable scooting past tacklers.

It's not been Rey Maualuga or Brian Cushing shrugging of defenders.

It's been Pete Carroll, doing his best to not talk about Ohio State.

Now with the game just days away, Carroll is ready to talk about the Buckeyes.

"I know the Coliseum's going to be rocking," he said at his weekly media luncheon. "It'll be really fun for us."

With loads of talent on both sides of the ball, two of the nation's top five teams will clash Saturday at 5 p.m.

Both Carroll and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel spoke Tuesday about the challenge facing their teams this weekend - a challenge both sides seem excited about.

Tressel said he's impressed with the individual parts of the No. 1 Trojan team, but it's how they operate as a whole that stands out most.

"Everyone wants to talk about the outstanding players, and they do have them. All of those guys were on our wish list. They have great talent. The thing I really love is their discipline," Tressel said. "They play how the game is supposed to be played. They play fast, the play tough, they play clean and they play hard. They have fun.

"I enjoy watching them on film. But I think I enjoyed it more when I was just trying to study them and not get ready to play them."

Tressel said he expects to have one of his major weapons, running back Chris Wells, available Saturday after seeing improvement with his injured foot.

"He ran yesterday, and I think he'll do some more vigorous cutting today. Then, he'll get into the scuffle with all of the bodies (Wednesday). We feel good about the way he's coming along. He's a really competitive kid, and he wants very badly to help this football team.

"He's certainly anxious to step in."

Size and speed are hallmarks of Ohio State on both sides of the ball - especially at linebacker.

"Ohio State's linebackers are really good. They're quick; they're agile," Carroll said. They pressure a lot, and they're put in positions to make big things to happen."

If the Big Ten conference has a reputation for slow, plodding power football, Ohio State is not fitting in under that umbrella

"These guys will fly," Carroll said. "They're really fast. They're as fast and as athletic as anyone we've played since we've been here."

USC running back Allen Bradford's watched Ohio State games over the past two seasons, and he says the No. 5 Buckeyes doesn't have stereotypical Big Ten speed.

In fact, the idea that the Big Ten is slow might be a falsehood, Bradford said. Against USC, it only looks that way.

"We just have a lot of team speed on offense and defense, and I think that's an advantage for us," Bradford said. "I think it's a myth, but really, you can't prepare for how fast we're going to be. When we play, teams will hang with us for a second, but then they can't keep up with us.

"We never slow down."

A combustible mixture of hype, speed, talent and pride will mix Saturday, and Carroll says it will be a day for football that fans will enjoy.

"It's rare that you get to see so many guys with such bright futures and upsides," he said. "It's going to be a huge event.

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