Barkley takes what Woods creates in romp

With Syracuse defense focused on sophomore receiver Robert Woods, quarterback Matt Barkley is content to spread the wealth in 38-17 win.

LOS ANGELES – There are now two schools of thought on how to defend USC wide receiver Robert Woods.

The first, as demonstrated by Minnesota, is to allow the brilliant sophomore to go ballistic with sheer volume of receptions and minimize the rest of the Trojan offense.

The second, employed by Syracuse on Saturday night in the Coliseum, is to try and deny him with constant double-teams and make others step up.

Unfortunately, neither seems to work.

Even as Woods amassed eight receptions for 82 yards, both team-highs, and a touchdown, quarterback Matt Barkley was content to spread the wealth. And when it's as easy as throwing to a wide-open Randall Telfer as he runs down the far hash marks, why not?

Barkley tied the school single-game record with five touchdown passes in a 38-17 romp over the Orange, showing the promise of what the Trojans can be when everything is clicking, a far cry from the late-game drama the past two weeks against Minnesota and Utah.

It also showed the promise of Barkley at his best, content to take what the defense is giving him and striking at the most opportune moments, like his 44-yard touchdown strike to tight end Randall Telfer.

"The quarterback played pretty good," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said.

With the safety rolling over to Woods, the redshirt freshman ran wide-open down the far hash marks needing only to wait for Barkley's pass and avoid stumbling on the uneven turf.

"If they are going to leave guys open, we're going to exploit them," Barkley said.

Those are the sorts of plays available with Woods now having amassed a school-record 33 receptions over this opening three game span, breaking the mark of 32 set by Keyshawn Johnson to close the 1995 season.

Put him one-on-one against a cornerback, the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year blows by for a 31-yard touchdown. Double-team him and someone else will exploit the coverage, as Barkley showed by connecting with eight different receivers, also hitting Woods' Gardena (Calif.) Serra teammate Marqise Lee, fullback Rhett Ellison and tight end Xavier Grimble for scores.

"People are taking Robert away," Kiffin said. "Understand that Robert is still playing really well, even though his numbers aren't the same as they were in the opener. But if you are going to put a corner inside of Robert and a safety over the top of him all day long, it's going to be hard. There's not many plays to get a guy open.

"So what happens, that's when you see Randall run wide open down the middle of the field because Robert is out there."

Barkley finished with 324 yards, completing 26 of 39 passes. He has now thrown nine touchdowns against one interception this season.

"He is trusting us a lot more," redshirt senior wide receiver Brandon Carswell said. "He is even more confident in the pocket right now."

"It's really showing. Those stats are amazing."

More importantly, the offense addressed some glaring issues it had heading into its first road game at Arizona State. USC converted 10 of 14 third downs, helping produce the first convincing win of the season.

"It's about time," Barkley said. "It kind of felt like Trojan football again."


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