While the rest of the 2009 recruiting class is winding up their senior year of high school and getting ready for the prom, USC quarterback Matt Barkley has thrust himself into the middle of the most watched position battle in college football.
The freshman quarterback from Mater Dei has shaken up the quarterback competition with his strong arm and playmaking ability but it's his mental approach to the game is that has really stood out.
"I have said all along that I have been surprised that relative to the other young guys that have come in, he is way ahead," Pete Carroll said. "You can go back to Cassell, Leinart, Booty and Sanchez, all of those guys it took them a couple of years before they really showed that they were comfortable with the system."
"I can't tell you why it is so much different, other than Matt's factor that he has a real football intelligence and athletic intelligence that allows him to incorporate what he's learning in the classroom and bring it out here and make it work."
Another factor in Barkley's nearly seamless transition to college life has been the simplification of the offense by new quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.
"I think that would be somewhat of a factor," Carroll said. "Jeremy (Bates) has really got these guys under his wing and they are consistent across the board about the system."
"The system is the same but the way the information is getting transferred is working out really well.
"He obviously conveys the stuff very well to the guys."
Barkley has quickly picked up Bate's lessons and will get another chance to prove himself during Saturday's scrimmage.
"I can't wait," Barkley said. "Every opportunity like that you have to take advantage of. I am just going to try and do my thing and try to execute, stay focused and be calm."
News and Notes
- After practice, Coach Carroll said that the MRI results on Gable's hip were negative and that he had a strained hip.
- Butch Lewis and Charles remain day-to-day and could return to action as soon as Saturday.
- Matt Barkley's ability to throw the ball has been well documented but what makes him such a special player is his unquestioned self-confidence.
When asked if he would be surprised to be named the starter, the young quarterback replied, "A part of me would be like ‘wow this is pretty awesome' but I don't think surprised because that is what I expect of myself, to be the best."
- Cornerback T.J. Bryant had another good day of practice breaking up two passes on Thursday. After practice, Carroll spoke about Bryant's impressive play.
"He's really been a factor. He's a very good football player, got a real good overall sense of the game and continues to make things happen on a regular basis," Carroll said. "He's consistent in his coverage and he's a playmaker."
- After receiving limited reps on Tuesday, quarterback Mitch Mustain was back in the rotation today.
"We are still trying to keep the numbers pretty even as best as we can," Carroll said.
- Tight end Anthony McCoy got behind the defense and caught a long touchdown pass from Aaron Corp during 7-on-7. On the very next play, Corp threw a perfectly placed pass between two defenders to hit Brice Butler for a 15-yard gain.
Corp took more chances down the field on Thursday and had one of his better days of spring.
- Middle linebacker Uona Kaveinga got work with the first team defense and recovered an Aaron Corp fumble.
All-American safety Taylor Mays had a quarterback sack on Thursday. (Paul Pinner Photo)
*Discuss more on the SCPlaybook.com message boards
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at email@example.com