Zeke Motta has split time with Jamoris Slaughter at strong safety this season. The junior from Vero Beach, Fla., has 17 tackles and an interception through six games this season.
Here, Motta talks about the dynamic of sharing a starting spot, what he did over the bye week and, of course, USC.
USC week, how do you guys view this game? Was it kind of like you got one out of the way last year and can now start treating it as another week?
Zeke Motta: "I think my preparation going into this week isn't any different than any other game week. Obviously we're playing USC at night. It's a rivalry game. We have a lot of motivation to win because we haven't beaten them here since 2001. I think it's gonna be really exciting just going into this game, being a night game and stuff like that."
What will it mean to play under the lights? Notre Dame hasn't at home in 21 years. How excited are you for that?
ZM: "It's gonna be awesome. I'm pumped because Notre Dame hasn't played a night game here in a long time. So to be a part of that, it's something special."
Brian Kelly said it's a big game but that if you guys win and then lose to Navy, it doesn't mean much. How do you keep this week in perspective?
ZM: "Just gotta go out and be on our business. Like I said, our preparation isn't gonna be any different. We're going with a focus on the opponent. Obviously USC has some good athletes on the offensive side of the ball. And we're practicing and preparing with a purpose. The excitement and the intensity is gonna be elevated I think, because it's a rivalry game and it's gonna be at night."
When you see a guy like Robert Woods, one of the better wide receivers in the country, what goes through your mind preparing for him and what do you think makes him such a big threat?
ZM: "He's a good athlete. But I think that we practice against somebody like that every day. Michael Floyd's got the same intangibles, if not better. So we'll obviously prepare for that and we just gotta be on our business."
What did you do over the bye week?
ZM: "Sleep. Watch football."
ZM: "No I was here."
Nice to relax, watch other games and not get up in the morning?
ZM: "Yeah it was kind of different. It was weird because we were like just watching football on Saturday when we're usually playing and stuff like that. So it was good, just to be like a college fan."
What's the relationship like between you and Jamoris, sharing time at your position?
ZM: "It's good. We bounce ideas off each other all the time. Just kind of talk about what we're seeing out there on the field and pushing each other to do better each day. Obviously there's always a high level of competition here, so it's good."