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Pete Carroll 1-on-1: The Cowboys, the rookies and the surprise dropkick

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Pete Carroll of the Seattle Seahawks throws a football during warm-ups prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on September 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

SEATTLE — If you guessed Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is excited to play in front of home fans at CenturyLink Field, you’d be right.

In fact, he’s ecstatic.

Carroll and the Seahawks (0-2) look to come home after tough back-to-back weeks in Denver and Chicago. Though the team is struggling in some aspects, he sees promise. The rookies’ maturity levels, the hungry defense, and even the kicker — all things Carroll sees as promising.

Below is Carroll’s 1-on-1 with Q13 News Sports Director Aaron Levine.

Cowboys vs. Seahawks will be at 1:25 p.m. Sunday on Q13 FOX.

They made you wait a few weeks for the home opener. It’s about time.

It feels really good to be coming back. W need the 12s. We’re going to try to turn out a great game and get them all jacked up. Do like we do at CenturyLink Field. We’re fired up for it.

How much does that elevate a team? Coming back home?

Our guys are really pumped up about it. We’ve been in front of 140,000 people. We want to get in front of our guys.

What are the main points of emphasis in practice this week?

We have to clean things up. We are working hard to make sure we have our stuff right. We’ve made enough errors that we need to clean things up, in particular on third down. On both sides of the ball we want to get better there. Of course, we’re always going to try to run the football more than we have.

What are the other takeaways from the first couple of games?

It’s the defense has been hawking the football. We’ve been getting after the ball really well. I’m really pleased with the secondary and what they’re doing. Turning up the plays. Sometimes you get close and you don’t make it. We have a good start to the season in that regard. We want to make sure we’re really balanced as a football team and doing things right across the board. Our kicking game is pretty solid right now. There was a great come through kick last week. Hopefully we can continue to highlight what’s going on in special teams.

You talked about the takeaways. Shaquill Griffin had two last week. He said last week a major goal was getting his hands on the ball a little bit more. You’ve been seeing that so far.

For whatever reason, we’ve come up with some really nice plays. Two games, guys are getting two interceptions. It’s rare that happens. He’s ready to have a big season, he’s just prepared so well. He’s learned from his first year. He feels like a veteran out there, you can just see it as he’s seeing things. I hope they keep trying him. He’ll make some plays if they keep going after him.

A different kind of test this week facing Dak Prescott. How differently have the Cowboys been using him this year?

They’re running him more. You can see there’s some designed runs. They had some before, but there’s just some greater emphasis now. The run-pass thing is in their offense, too. That wasn’t in their before. We’ve seen them grow and be affected by what they’ve watched around the league. Dak can do a lot of good stuff. He’s a good runner and he’s tough. He can stay in the pocket or he can stay on the move. He’s a very versatile player. They’re highlighting him more this year.

What else have you seen from the Cowboys on film?

They’re really chasing the football well. They played a fantastic game on defense against the Giants until the fourth quarter when they gave up the football. They really are running the football well. And they always are really good upfront. They’ve been terrific under Rod for so many years. We have to get ready for a lot of stunts. They’re going to be on the move from the moment they get off the bus.

You’re always evolving and learning as a head coach over the years. What are your top priorities and the way that you approach a football game?

It’s always trying to get the guys ready to play freed up. Not encumbered with assignments and concerns and worries and all that kind of stuff. The whole process of the week is to establish a level of confidence in the game plan, where they know what’s going on. Bring them to the point that they trust that they’re ready to go. So when we get to gameday we can free up and play with a really focuses mind and not focused on other things going on.

We talked about the young defense. What about the rookie class as a whole? How would you evaluate them in the first few weeks?

I think it’s a really good group. We’ve seen it from top to bottom, we’ve got stuff happening. I think Rashaad Penny is going to continue to grow. He missed a lot of the offseason. He’s had two weeks of practice so far since he broke his finger. Right on down the line, Rasheem Green is playing. Michael Dickson is kicking the football really well. Will Dissly is getting in there. Shaquem Griffin is going to have a big impact so far. The whole class is a really good group.

Speaking of Michael Dickson, how would you evaluate that first drop-kick kickoff of his career?

(Laughing) He’s got some more tricks up his sleeve.

After having the same offensive coordinator for seven years, what is the biggest adjustment to having a new offensive coordinator?

It just takes time to get through all of the situations so that we’re really clear. Brian Schottenheimer is a well-experienced, well-traveled coordinator. He knows what’s going on. He’s really good at commanding every aspect of it. There will be some situations that happen for the first time that we have to work through. We’re really seeing eye-to-eye. We’re really on the same page. We love the work that he’s doing. We’ll grow. You know, when you’ve been with somebody for five or six years then you’ve been through a lot of experiences. We’re just trying to add those up as quickly as we can.