Pete Carroll says he missed how good Clay Matthews was at USC

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Pete Carroll calls Clay Matthews one of his “great mistakes” in coaching.

Matthews played for Carroll at USC but didn’t become a full-time starter until his senior season with the Trojans. Instead, he had primarily played on special teams after walking on to the team out of high school.

“When Clay came in he was 208 pounds and he didn’t run really well. He wasn’t really strong, but he loved playing and he tried really hard. Unfortunately, this is one of the great mistakes that I missed in my coaching at SC was how good of a player he was,” Carroll said Thursday. “I had said going in I think maybe his junior year somebody asked me about Clay Matthews and I said I think he might be one of the best special teamers to ever play at USC. He was a great player on [special] teams. I knew I couldn’t really validate that, but I was blowing him up because he was a great kid.

“Well, when we got to his senior year, he wasn’t starting. He didn’t start the first game. I think we were playing Oregon State, and we had some problems. We put him in the game, and said we know Clay will do the right thing. He started playing there, and he’s been a great player since the time he was given the opportunity to show it. He was always there banging away. Always there fighting, clawing and scratching.

“Maybe because of the way he came up, it took him a long time to develop, and didn’t recognize the great heart that he had, and unbelievable competitiveness and the great savvy that he demonstrates now. It’s really one of my big misses. I should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did. He made the rest of it history and been an extraordinary player ever since.”

Matthews has been selected to the Pro Bowl five times, a first-team All-Pro once, a second-team selection twice and won a Super Bowl since being selected by the Green Bay Packers in 2009. Carroll and Matthews will be on the same field again Sunday when the Packers take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game.

27 responses to “Pete Carroll says he missed how good Clay Matthews was at USC

  1. Speaking as a Pack fan, I just don’t get all the hate for Pete Carroll. Every time I hear him give an interview, he sounds totally genuine, reflective, earnest. You cant help but like the guy. I can see why players like to play for him.

  2. A little extra motivation on the GB sidelines!

    I can hear it now, “down goes Wilson!”

  3. Came here just to see the Carroll/Hawk Haters foaming at the mouth.

    Any article with “Pete Carroll” in the headline is like chum in the water.

    You Haters never disappoint (looking at you Niners and Vikings). Enjoy the rest of the Playoffs from your couch.

  4. I was on a flight once with Ted Thompson from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. When we landed in the evening at LAX, TT grabbed a small bag off the luggage carousel and hopped in a cab. I always suspected the purpose of the trip was to scout Clay Mathews over at USC.

  5. Nothing to see here. College football has a long history of players where coaches don’t really see the underlining abilities. Then once a player gets his chance, he makes the most of it, and coaches, HC and assistants say, I didn’t see that coming. Good job on Clay for not giving up and working hard until he got his shot.

  6. 208 lbs, slow and not very strong. Yet now he’s cut and faster. Couldn’t be roids could it?

  7. That’s good to hear because the Packers are loaded with talent and are tough…which is what got them this far playing against some very worthy opponents. Clay Matthews is a monster and every bit the beast that Seattle brags about on their team.
    Should be a great game and the Seahawks had better be ready to play their best ball as, I believe, the Packers are slight underdogs which is the best place to be as a motivator. Seattle better not let these “dogs lie” because everyone is out to knock off the Champs and Matthews is resembling the “incredible Hulk” right now!

  8. So, HOF bloodlines and you miss a future HOF’r.

    If his last name was not Matthews, maybe the walk on part never happens too.

  9. Peppers and Matthews are going to make this game their game. It’s their time. I can feel it. They’ve just decided that it’s time to have an eye-opening / record-setting defensive performance.

    At the close of the game, it shall be said by the commentators that the difference in sending the Pack to Arizona was the “it’s our game” determination of Clay and Julius …. their strip sacks and their wounded duck batted pass interceptions are going to provide 3 defensive TDs.

    Aaron’s going to get his 3 TDs too. So, that’s 42 points. Plus … Kuhn picks up a fumble on a kick-off and scores six more. 48 points.

    Green Bay is going to need a long sheet of paper to record all the heroes of this game.

    May the Lord protect everyone / both teams from injury.


  10. That was one great USC linebacker corps that season. Cushing may have been because of the juice, but him, Matthews and Maualuga (sp?) made for a beastly crew. And Taylor Mays was on that defense too!

  11. As a Packers fan I’m excited for the opportunity to beat the best. Everyone talks (badly) about the Seahawks but they are so well coached I never seem them out of position. It is going to be a great test for the Pack and we will have to play our best game to have a shot- but it’s a shot I’ll take.

    Go Pack!

  12. We all missed it because he wasn’t. Forgot I should spell things out more clearly here.

  13. USC has backups who would have started on other schools so it is not surprising to hear about a kid who probably only was on the squad because he was a ‘legacy’ and never got a fair shot. Most walk ons are stereotyped as cannon fodder.


    Disgruntled (but not bitter) former walk on.

  14. One cannot wonder if Clay feels slighted by his experience at USC…and if he will bite at the chance to prove how wrong Pete was…the Pack is going to need a whole lot of something, as this game may be over before it starts.

  15. Matthews got to the All-Pro level because of the coaches in Green Bay.

    He may have had the raw talent but TT, McCarthy and, most of all, Kevin Green turned him into the monster he is now.

    My only hope is that Matthews throws Lynch out of bounds at the 1 yard line as time expires, the Packers win 24-21 and Fanboy Carroll and Matthews lock eyes.

  16. dwhitehurst says:
    Jan 16, 2015 2:06 AM
    Speaking as a Pack fan, I just don’t get all the hate for Pete Carroll. Every time I hear him give an interview, he sounds totally genuine, reflective, earnest. You cant help but like the guy. I can see why players like to play for him.

    I’m born and raised Seattle, UW fan to the core. It goes without saying that myself, and many other locals were not generally big fans of the hire when it was announced, because of his USC history. 5 years later, I couldn’t have been more wrong. I understand why people hate him from the outside, I do, but man he is so consistent with his message. Every day he is do damn positive, and his message is 100% consistent day in, day out. I have a ton of respect for how he runs things here. It works, and the players buy in completely.

    Best of luck on Sunday. May whichever team wins beat the ever living crap out of the AFC contender.

  17. I read people slamming Clay Matthews all the time. Even Packer fans. I don’t get that. The guy never quits and he makes big plays. He was asked to move from outside LB’er to inside LB’er at times this season and that affects his numbers. But he did it without so much as a whimper because all he cares about is winning. And it’s no coincidence that the Packers defense played much better after he did that.

    Some people call him a dirty player, but that’s just bull. I’ve watched every down the Packers have played since I got Directv a dozen years ago, and people who say that are just clueless or simply Packer haters.

    In short, Matthews is a great player and if you had 11 guys on defense who played with the intensity he does, you’d have a helluva defense.

    Fans can say what they want about Matthews, but I know this. Opposing QB’s know where he is on every play, because they know he can come and get them or make a play against a RB, WR or TE, too.

  18. dwhitehurst…

    hm, why do so many people hate on pete carrol…let me think…is it the fact that pete carroll cheated and broke rules for his entire tenure at USC, won a title while breaking these rules, had positive drug tests for steroids wiped away magically before the draft for many of his own players, and then left for seattle with a nice lucrative deal right when USC was under investigation, leaving his trash for everybody else to pick up and suffer through at USC, while he goes on to seattle scott free?

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