Aaron Corp is currently the Trojans' starting quarterback after a nearly mistake-free performance in the spring, but freshman Matt Barkley is still very much in the mix, and said after Saturday's practice that he likes his chances of being the starter by the time the season rolls around.
When asked about his chances of being the starter Barkley responded, "I think they are high. I am confident that I can do it. I have no doubt that I can."
The freshman from Mater Dei wasn't being brash but just displaying the confidence that he has shown since the first day he stepped on Howard Jones Field.
"I have to continue to be a leader and establish myself as the guy who can carry the team who's not afraid of stepping in front of one-hundred thousand people at Ohio State, because that could happen," he said.
Barkley had another strong showing on Saturday and said he is much more confident leading the offense after having a few months to study the playbook and workout with the wide receivers.
"I knew what I was coming into. The nerves weren't really flying," Barkley said when comparing the first days of spring practice and fall camp. "I was a lot more comfortable and had a lot more fun."
Pete Carroll agreed that Barkley looked more at ease, adding: "Barkley is a whole leap ahead of where he was. He should make a big jump here. We anticipate that."
For Barkley to keep the pressure on Aaron Corp, who also had a solid first practice, he is going to have to stay aggressive and continue to make big plays while limiting turnovers.
"I believe in my strong arm but you have to hold back sometimes because it can come back and bite you," Barkley said. "I just got to realize that sometimes it's not there."
There is no question that Aaron Corp earned the starting spot but as Fall Camp carries on, so does the quarterback competition, and Pete Carroll would have it no other way.
Good First Impression
One of the first things that Pete Carroll mentioned after practice was how pleased he was with the play of the newcomers.
"I am really fired up about the young guys," Carroll said. "Just to see them be able to fit in already and do stuff already."
On the first day of practice, a handful of the newcomers really jumped out with their performances.
On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver De'Von Flournoy displayed his speed on several different occasions, including a deep touchdown pass up the sideline on a perfectly placed ball by fellow freshman Matt Barkley.
Hebron "Loni" Fangupo showed the strength and quickness during the one-on-one drills that made him such a highly regarded player coming out of Mt. San Antonio CC.
Carroll also singled out the young defensive backs, linebacker Jarvis Jones and Devon Kennard for praise following the action, but the most encouraging sign may have been the booming punts of Jacob Harfman.
"I didn't see it yet but I heard that Harfman just kicked the heck out of the football, punting it," Carroll said. "That was the report from Brian (Schneider). I am anxious to see it on film.
"It's obvious that he has a terrific leg, which we were hoping for."
Carroll said Harfman has a chance to win all three kicking spots this fall, but is specifically looking for him to secure the punting and kickoff duties.
"It really is the kickoff and the punting thing that is up for grabs and we want to see if Jake could take care of that," Carroll said. "That would be just about as much as I could ask for."
News and Notes
- 2011 Taft defensive tackle Antwaun Woods received an offer from the Trojans, which was his first and he was very happy about the big news. Woods is the teammate of USC commit D.J. Morgan.
- Tailback Joe McKnight supplied plenty of excitement on Saturday breaking off two long runs, one of which went for a 75-yard touchdown. McKnight, who is finally healthy looks like he could emerge as a special playmaker in '09.
- Freshman wide receiver De'Von Flournoy immediately displayed his tremendoud speed on Saturday. The speedster from Birmingham high school got behind the defense and caught a deep pass in stride from Matt Barkley and raced for a touchdown.
- 6-foot-5, 220-pound wide receiver Jordan Cameron had one of his better practices as a Trojan. Cameron used his big frame and athleticism to shield off the smaller defensive backs and pulled in a handful of nice catches Saturday.
After practice, Carroll commented that Cameron made great strides this offseason in the strength and condition program.
- Tailback C.J. Gable, who saw his playing time limited at the tail end of last season due to fumbling problems, put the ball on the ground during the 11-on-11 drills today.
- Shane Horton was very active today at the linebacker position. Horton is making the move from safety to give the Trojans some much needed depth at linebacker.
"He looked pretty comfortable. He's a very good athlete for the position. He's real fast, he ran a 4.5. He weighed in at 211 so he's a little light at the linebacker spot but he is a real good athlete for the spot," Carroll said. "Kenny was really pleased with the way he picked things up."
- As expected, senior linebacker Luthur Brown didn't participate in practice on Saturday and will likely miss the season due to academic issues.
- Freshman safety T.J. McDonald twisted his ankle during a jump ball drill and is expected to miss Sunday's practice.
- Incoming freshman Patrick Hall was in attendance and was keeping a close eye on the defensive back drills.
- Defensive end Malik Jackson left practice early because he was feeling under the weather. Carroll said Jackson had been sick all day and tried to practice but just couldn't make it.
Tailback Joe McKnight was all smiles after the first day of Fall Camp.(Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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