Mora's Sunday Teleconference

Jim Mora talks about the upcoming game against USC, the tradition of stabbing the field in the pregame, and Matt Barkley's impact at quarterback...

Q: What are you guys going to have to do this week to maybe take some of the pressure off of your secondary?

A: Well, I've always felt that to play good pass defense, it's a function of a combination of things, and that's rush, underneath coverage, and deep coverage. And so we just have to be able to hopefully pressure the quarterback if possible and do a good job of getting underneath in our coverage and playing disciplined in our zones and making plays on the ball. But, you know, this game we're playing poses a special threat because you've got some special players on offense.

Q: Is there any way to treat this game like any other game?

A: I think you try to, but I think that obviously it's a little different, just given the fact that these two universities sit so close together and this is a game that has a lot of ramifications in terms of the chance to go to the Pac-12 Championship Game. I know that we'll do all we can to keep this week as normal as possible, knowing that there will be some extra attention placed on this game.

Q: Is there any thought to going a little easier at the beginning of the week, since so many guys are banged up?

A: What do you mean by taking it easy, changing practice or something like that?

Q: Or going a little lighter earlier on or doing anything else to maybe give them a little more rest?

A: We'll just do what we normally do.

Q: What makes Matt Barkley different from most average quarterbacks?

A: I think it's a combination of things. I think, No. 1, he's very well coached and he's a very smart player. I've always thought that the elements that make a quarterback great are decision making ability, accuracy, mobility, arm strength, leadership, those things, and I think he's got all of those. I think he demonstrates it again and again and again. He's a tremendous decision maker. He throws the ball on time with accuracy, he can make all the throws. I don't think anyone is ever going to say that he's the kind of guy who can run around like Mike Vick, but he's got pocket mobility, and he can keep the play alive and still find a way to fit the ball down the field. And you add the experience he's got, and the big game experience he's got, and he's very poised and he's seen just about everything there is to see at this level.

Q: You touched on the difference between the pro rivalries and the college rivalries during the Cal week. Are you starting to get a grasp on the magnitude of this rivalry in LA?

A: [Laughs] Yeah, you can say that. I've gotten a grasp of it. It's really unlike anything else I've ever seen, whether it be pro sports or college sports. In pro sports, I'm sitting here watching this Rams-49ers game as it ends up, and I am trying to think about a rivalry that we had in pro football in all my time there, and I don't know that there's one of this significance that we have here in the one versus USC. Then I went back, and I thought about when I was at Washington, and Washington's main rivals were Washington State and Oregon. They were both hundreds of miles away, not 12 miles away, or whatever the distance is between our two universities. It's just so unique to have such a division in the city like we have here with regards to the allegiance to other teams and to the universities. It's pretty special.

Q: Coach, are you aware of the pre game tradition of stabbing the field, and if so, is that something you're planning on stopping?

A: I'm aware of it, but we're going to be in the locker room, so I don't think I'll be out there laying down on the UCLA logo or anything like that.

Q: Does that fire up your players at all, knowing that's going on down on the field?

A: I don't know, you'd have to ask them. I haven't seen my players since after the game last night, so I haven't talked to them about this game yet.

Q: Jim, have you talked to Lane about uniforms for this game?

A: I have not talked to Lane about that. I don't think that's on my plate. I think that goes up above me.

Q: Do you have an update on the injured from Saturday?

A: I don't as of yet.

Q: Does this game shape up as a potential turning of the tide for the program?

A: You know, I have to be honest with you, I don't believe in turning of the tides and all that stuff. I think every game is a game in and of itself. You know, people use this phrase "turning the corner" and I don't think in competitive sports, or at least in team sports, you ever turn the corner. I think it's a long, windy, uphill road the entire way. I just have always believed that each game is a game unto itself.

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