Clark: "Anxious To Get Out There"

Junior cornerback <b>Matt Clark</b> talks about taking over the starting position from departed Ricky Manning, starting opposite his cousin, the Colorado game and more...

Spending his first two seasons as a backup to Ricky Manning, junior cornerback Matt Clark this fall has solidified his role as a starter. He talks about replacing Manning, starting opposite his cousin and his itch to be used as a returner.

BRO: You've waited your turn the last two years behind Ricky, and now you're set to be the starter. What's been the feeling behind that?

Clark: "It's been cool. There's a lot of people out here trying to get this position, so I have to keep working hard for it. Every day is a new day, and I have to play well each day to keep it."

BRO: When you signed with UCLA, you were kind of the unknown of the recruiting class, known more as Matt Ware's cousin. But you end up only one of three guys in your class to play as a true freshman, and are a starter now.

Clark: "It's crazy. Colorado is going to be my first collegiate start. Just going out there, it's going to be fun and I'm anxious to get out there. Its going to be a great feeling."

BRO: One thing Ricky Manning excelled at was his run defense, and you've had a great camp when it comes to taking on the running backs, even taking Manny White head on.

Clark: "In this defensive scheme, we're going to have to tackle. If we don't tackle, we don't play, so this summer I worked on keeping my feet, getting a little stronger in the weight room, and be able to take guys on that high. In the game, if someone is coming at me that high, I can just go low."

BRO: In practice the last couple years you've been able to go against pretty good receivers, and you match up against Craig Bragg a lot. In the Pac-10, there are a whole slew of great receivers. How much of a benefit is it going against Craig every day?

Clark: "Underrated or not, Craig Bragg is probably one of the five best receivers in the country. He just doesn't get all the hype as other guys get. But doing 1-on-1s, competing against him every day, running backs like Tyler (Ebell) who are elusive and can cut, we have better athletes than most, so going up against them helps us get better."

BRO: Is it pretty cool knowing you and your cousin (Matt Ware) are going to be starting opposite each other?

Clark: "It's a great feeling. One of the reasons why I came here was to play with my cousin and having him out there with me, you know, the same blood out there doing it, so it's a great feeling. And it's finally happening."

BRO: Your first year, they let you return kicks, and you had some great returns, the shoeless return against Oregon. You want to return kicks still?

Clark: "I definitely want to do kick returns. I talk to Coach Bieniemy, he said he is definitely going to give me a look. I want to be the starter, so I just need to show them that I can handle it."

BRO: You guys have a new defensive coordinator and a new defensive back coach. How has it been working with Coach Kerr and Coach DeLoach?

Clark: "The whole defensive scheme is great. Just working with Coach DeLoach and Coach Kerr is great, they know what they are doing. Being out there with the defense, learning something new all the time, it's going to make us better. I love our new defense. It's going to be hard running on us and passing on us."

BRO: You look at all the other DBss and they are 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and here you come at 5-10. Clark: "More like 5-9 (laughing)."

BRO: So do they ever tease you about being the little guy?

Clark: "They do. Like I say, that's what God gave me, and I'll just have to excel more, and do stuff better. I can break faster than those guys because I have less height. I just work on my feet."

BRO: Do you feel you get a chance to redeem yourselves against Colorado after they manhandled you in the Rose Bowl last year?

Clark: "We definitely have payback in mind. They came into the Rose Bowl and ran all over us. We don't want that to happen this year."

BRO: Coach Dorrell is a former Bruin, knows what its like to wear a UCLA uniform and now he is running the show. How has the team done with him in charge?

Clark: "His presence has been great for this program. He's just a real down to Earth guy. One thing I love about him is the way he is with perfection. When he schedules a practice, he wants perfection, demands it, and that's how he is. It's a whole different atmosphere now, a whole different feel."

BRO: Did Ricky have any words of advice or do you keep in contact with him?

Clark: "Yeah he calls me all the time, checks up on me, making sure I know what I am doing. Ricky is always talking. He's telling me to get in the receivers heads, get in their ears, that will help me."

BRO: With all the great receivers in the Pac-10, and having Matt Ware already being a known player, quarterbacks will probably throw to your side a lot more. You ready to handle guys like Reggie Williams and Mike Williams?

Clark: "I'm definitely ready. This is my breakout year, my chance to show what I can do. I've been waiting two years to do this."


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