CFB: USC freshman QB Barkley fares better in scrimmage but defense rules again
By Michael Lev
The Orange County Register
LOS ANGELES — Matt Barkley didn’t blink.
“Are you ready to play in a real game?” a reporter asked him.
“Yes,” the freshman quarterback said confidently.
Others watching the past two USC scrimmages — in which Barkley completed 12 of 31 passes with one interception and zero touchdowns might disagree. But they have to consider one important factor:
Barkley won’t be facing the Trojans’ defense if he becomes the starter.
As is usually the case under Pete Carroll, defense dominated the scrimmage that concluded USC’s training camp Saturday afternoon. The 69-play practice session featured one score, and it was a safety by linebacker Shane Horton.
“The offense played well today,” Horton said, “but they just played a really good defense.”
The defense lost seven players to the NFL draft, but the secondary features three seniors, and it again put Barkley to the test.
He fared better than the previous scrimmage, completing 7 of 13 passes (including two drops) for 56 yards. His decision-making was sounder, and even the one interception he threw was a one-on-one jump-ball battle that safety Josh Pinkard happened to win.
“I think I made a lot of progress,” Barkley said. “Minus a play or so, I think today was a very good day for us. I felt really calm out there and confident. There were just a couple of plays out there, a couple of third downs, that would’ve made a big change in the game.
“It takes 11. There were a couple of dropped balls, a couple of bad passes, a couple penalties. I really think we’re just an inch away from being great.”
The offense played without top receiver Damian Williams (bruised quadriceps) and three-fifths of the projected starting line.
With the team on the verge of a two-day break, Carroll held out several players who have minor injuries. The group included Williams, offensive tackle Charles Brown, fullback D.J. Shoemate and tailback Allen Bradford. ... The players selected Williams, Pinkard, safety Taylor Mays and offensive lineman Jeff Byers as team captains. ... Scrimmage stat leaders included tailback Joe McKnight (31 yards on four carries), receiver Brice Butler (five catches for 39 yards) and defensive end Malik Jackson (two of the team’s six sacks). ... Magic Johnson addressed the team at the end of the workout. ... About 1,000 fans attended the scrimmage at Howard Jones Field. ... The Trojans are slated to resume practicing Tuesday.