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November 11, 2008

Jim Harbaugh

Q. You've got your team kind of on the verge of being Bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. Tell us how your team is playing, what's been working, what do you need to improve on?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, our team is much improved from last year and from the beginning of the year. Our team plays very hard. Our team competes, and very excited about this week playing against USC. Whenever you play against USC, you're at the center stage of all of college football.
Our team needs to understand, and they do, they understand how good USC is as a football team. They have the coaching, they have the personnel. So our guys understand the challenge. But that doesn't diminish the expectations for our ball club.

Q. Your offense is pretty dominant on the ground. Can you talk about Toby Gerhart and what makes him so effective, also what his status is this week, and Kimble seems to be a pretty good alternative?
COACH HARBAUGH: We do. We have very good backs that have been very productive for our football team this year, and I expect all to be available for this game. How much we play them will be the game plan.

Q. What's some of Gerhart's qualities?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, he's a physical runner. He's got very good balance and vision, very competitive, good football player, great attitude.

Q. USC fans certainly remember Pritchard's performance last year. Can you talk about his development since last year and how he's playing right now?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, he's playing very confident. He's playing very poised. You know, he's just playing the game, which shows up in so many regards for your football team in a positive way. He gets into this game and saves our butts a lot of the times. He just has a great mental understanding of what we're trying to get done offensively, and he's been very athletic, been throwing the ball extremely well, even in some real adverse conditions. We've played three games in pouring down rain, and it just never seems to bother him or rattle him. He doesn't get rattled. He's very calm, cool and collected and respected by everybody on our football team, coaches and players alike.

Q. How about the other side of the ball? Can you tell us a little bit about your defense?
COACH HARBAUGH: What would you like to know?

Q. Well, how is it playing and who are some of the key guys?
COACH HARBAUGH: We have a veteran group of linebackers returning from last year, Pat Maynor, Clinton Snyder, Chike Amajoyi. Our defensive line has been very, very effective for us. We've got excellent ends. We're good up the middle at our tackle positions.
In the secondary Bo McNally, leader of our football team, captain playing the safety position. Veteran corners Wopamo Osaisai, Chris Evans, and our defense is like the rest of our football team, improving, better than last year, improving from game to game and very competitive group.

Q. Can you reminisce about last year's game, the win over USC, what you remember from it? And also, what does this year's team take from that? What have you been talking to them about?
COACH HARBAUGH: Well, I can say what some of our players have said about last year's game against USC, and that's that they remember the week of practice and how good the week of practice was, how focused in, how locked in everybody was, and how good those practices went. We're going to need the same kind of performances this week at practice. We practice today, and we're looking forward to our guys hitting the field with a lot of enthusiasm and mental preparation for this ballgame.

Q. Will you use last year's game at all in how you prepare and maybe how you motivate your team?
COACH HARBAUGH: In terms of game planning and motivation?

Q. Yes.
COACH HARBAUGH: We definitely will look at last year's game in terms of preparation, and motivation, I think, both teams will have fire in their eyes, ready to play this football game. I would expect nothing less. I mean, it is a big football game, very big game for us.

Q. You have a very good record at home. Can you talk about the surroundings and circumstances there that you use to your favor so well?
COACH HARBAUGH: I think just about everybody in the Pac-10 has really been successful on their home field, this year more than last as a conference. But for us, our student section has really been enthusiastic this year. They've been very supportive. They've been right behind our bench, and our team has really fed off of that. I would say they are much improved from a year ago, as well.

Q. What is it to you that stands out about USC this year?
COACH HARBAUGH: Oh, so many things. They are -- it's very difficult finding a weakness with this team, offensively, defensively, special teams. They've only allowed two touchdowns in the last six games. Like I said, they've got the coaching, they've got the personnel, and I think they're an improved ball club, as well, and just very impressed.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, good luck to you this week, and we'll see you in a few days.

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