April 11, 2009

Scrimmage Insider: Barkley's looking good

The competition at the quarterback position continued to get more interesting during USC's Saturday scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Just like he did on Thursday, freshman Matt Barkley put together a very good day, striking for a trio of touchdowns.

While USC head coach Pete Carroll isn't ready or willing to begin to endorse any single player in the three-man competition, Barkley's certainly making some pretty loud noise.

"You can't deny the fact that Barkley hung in there today and did a really nice job. I'm really surprised that he's been handling all the stuff the way he's handled it. He's eight practices old," Carroll said. "He's hanging in there, and you can see he has the ability to make plays. That's a big positive for him. We haven't seen a freshman able to do that in all of the years."

Barkley finished the day 10-of-13 for 195 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

"I've had confidence this whole time," Barkley said. "I'm happy with myself. There are corrections to be made, of course. I don't know (if I'm leading). I'm not going to answer that question until someone is named."

Aaron Corp had another mistake-free day, but just hanging onto the ball might not be enough for him to hold on to the slight lead he entered spring ball with.

"It's good I didn't turnover the ball, but I think getting into a rhythm and playing well would be more satisfying," he said. "To me it seemed it seemed like it was hit or miss all day. It was hard for me to get into a rhythm. I did some good things, and at times when I was in, the offense sputtered. Hopefully I can come back next week and do a nice job and stay consistent."

Corp did lead a late scoring drive with USC operating under the assumption it needed eight points on one last drive. Corp found a streaking Ronald Johnson over the middle of the field, and the speedy receiver took the pass and ran it 61 yards in for the score.

Mitch Mustain might have lost some ground Saturday, failing to lead a single scoring drive. He completed seven-of-10 passes for only 42 yards with an interception.

"I felt OK about it. I felt like I maxxed out what I was given and avoided any glaring errors," he said. "We've got to be able to push. It kind of hurts when our run game isn't moving. Our o-line did what it could with what it had. We have to make some adjustments and get better."

The line was thrown into flux when Butch Lewis injured his groin very early in the scrimmage. Charles Brown also left with an injury.

Still, Barkley looked calm in the face of pressure. He handled the simulated crowd and the very real scrutiny of the quarterback competition.

"He continues to be comfortable in a situation where most guys wouldn't be able to be this comfortable this fast," Carroll said. "It's giving him a chance to compete for the job.

"…I'm really surprised that he's that far along. We'll see what that means."

Saturday's reps

Mustain
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Complete to Damian Williams, short.
- Screen to Stafon Johnson.

Barkley
- Pitch to Marc Tyler.
- Complete to David Ausberry, fumble forced by Shane Horton, recovered by Jordan Campbell.

Corp
- Sacked by Everson Griffen, big loss.
- Pitch to C.J. Gable.
- Incomplete to Brice Butler, deflected by Kevin Thomas, could've been picked off.

Mustain
- Handoff to Curtis McNeal.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Scramble.
- Incomplete, deflected at the line by Malik Jackson.

Barkley

- Complete to Williams, big gain.
- Scramble.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Complete to Stafon Johnson, checkdown, eludes the sack.
- Pitch to Gable; Gable injured.
- Flag, offsides on Griffen.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Complete to Stanley Havili.
- Complete to Havili, 15-yard touchdown.

Corp
- Complete to Butler.
- Complete to Butler, big gain.
- Sacked by team.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Handoff to Tyler

Mustain
- Handoff to McNeal, nice run.
- Complete to Brandon Carswell.
- Incomplete to Tyler, broken up by Uona Kaveinga.
- Complete to D.J. Shoemate.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Complete to Tyler, screen.
- Sacked by Jackson.

Barkley
- Complete to Ronald Johnson.
- Sacked by Jackson.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.

Corp
- McNeal handoff.
- Complete to Scott Stephens.
- Complete to Havili.
- Scramble.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Handoff to Carswell, end around, 14-yard touchdown.

Corp
- Incomplete to Havili
- Scramble.
- Incomplete to Ronald Johnson.

Mustain
- Complete to Butler.
- Incomplete to Butler, deflected by Brian Baucham.
- Sacked by Wes Horton and Griffen.

Barkley
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Sacked by T.J. Bryant.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.

Barkley
- Complete to Travon Patterson on slant, 60-yard touchdown.

Corp
- Complete to Havili.
- Complete to Shoemate, big hit from Bryant.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Incomplete to McNeal.

Mustain
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Complete to Anthony McCoy.

Barkley
- Fumble on pump fake, offense recovers.
- Handoff to McNeal, big run.
- Incomplete, dropped by Spencer Vigoren.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Intercepted by Uona Kaveinga.

Corp
- Incomplete to Williams, Bryant deflection.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Incomplete to Williams.

Mustain
- Intercepted by Marshall Jones, intended for Jordan Cameron.

Barkley
- Handoff to McNeal, big gain.
- Complete to McCoy, offensive pass interference.
- Complete to McCoy.
- Scramble.
- Pitch to McNeal.
- Complete to Williams.
- McNeal run.
- Incomplete to McNeal, deflected and nearly intercepted by Griffen.
- Complete to Williams, eight-yard touchdown.

Corp
- Complete to Shoemate.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Incomplete to Carswell.
- Complete to Ronald Johnson for 68-yard touchdown; great yards after catch.
- Complete to McNeal for two-point conversion.

Extra Points

• C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler both left the scrimmage with hip injuries, leaving Curtis McNeal a great chance to make a statement.

He did just that, rushing for 101 yards on 13 carries.

"Moody really jumped out and took advantage of a couple of guys being banged up today. He took advantage of his opportunity and made the most of it," Carroll said. "He ran tough, he made some guys miss and he showed good speed on the edge. He did some really good stuff."

• Carroll said safety Will Harris will not practice with the team for the rest of the spring due to academic reasons. Compounding matters, sophomore Drew McAllister said he'd likely be out for the rest of spring practices due to a hamstring injury.

It now appears Josh Pinkard and Taylor Mays will be the starters heading into fall camp.

"It gives Josh the opportunity to really dig in as the starter," Carroll said. "He can really dig in and get comfortable playing with Taylor."

• Marshall Jones got a look with the first unit at cornerback, opposite Kevin Thomas. He responded by intercepting a Mustain pass.

"We just mixed him around at the corner spot. He had a really good week coming off his hamstring thing," Carroll said. "I was kind of surprised he could get back to full speed, but he did a great job and made a big play."

• Malik Jackson had a big day, recording two sacks and deflecting a pass. T.J. Bryant led the team with six tackles including a sack.

• Carroll said the defensive front continued to surprise people with how effective they've been despite losing some major contributors to the NFL.

"The defensive front seven was really aggressive. They got into the backfield a lot," he said. "We respect this offensive line… and we were still making plays in the backfield and getting penetration. That's really encouraging. Most people would've thought we'd be behind there at this point, and that's not the case."

Joe McKnight didn't participate, and Carroll said he'd be back next week. Also, Alex Parsons returned with his right hand heavily casted.

• Carroll said all three quarterbacks managed the game situations created by the scrimmage.

"I thought all three guys did what they were supposed to do. They were handling things, made some plays and made some good throws," he said. "I need to look at the film to see what happened on some particular plays. I don't care about the picks that happened on a couple of plays. I'm more concerned with the rhythm and if they were making the right choices."


...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!