Tuesday Practice: Barkley Sees Opportunity

In the highly competitive world of major college football one player's pain is often another's opportunity. That is currently the case at USC, where Aaron Corp's injured knee has given freshman Matt Barkley the chance to get more comfortable in the offense and close the gap in the quarterback competition.

Barkley Sees Opportunity

In the cruel world of major college football one player's pain is often another's opportunity.

That is currently the case at USC, where Aaron Corp's injured knee has given freshman Matt Barkley the chance to get more comfortable in the offense and close the gap in the quarterback competition.

Corp injured his knee when he dropped back to pass during Monday's practice and had a lineman fall into his left leg. He returned to action shortly after but experienced swelling and soreness this morning.

"I just woke up and it was swollen," Corp said. "There was too much pain."

With Corp nursing the sore knee, Barkley took the majority of the reps with the first-team offense on Tuesday and put together another solid performance.

"Matt got a ton of work today. He took most of the blitz period and most of the hard stuff today, just to put him up against it," Carroll said. "It's a good opportunity for him to dig in play after play and see how he fits in, and how he going is handle all the situations that we are playing.

"He's going to try and max out these opportunities now until Aaron gets back in the picture."

Barkley welcomed the extra work, adding: "I am liking the extra reps and just trying to take advantage of what I got."

On the first pass of the day he threw a bullet to Ronald Johnson for a big gain, he also connected with a streaking Joe McKnight for a score and later hit Damian Williams for two long touchdown passes.

"I thought he did pretty good, like he has done everyday a number of big plays and really good throws," Carroll said. "He had a little trouble in the blitz drill but that's not his fault. There was a couple of throws that got away but I thought he did pretty well."

Overall, Carroll continues to be pleased with Barkley's progress.

"I think he's doing remarkably well and I don't know how we could expect much more than what we are seeing," Carroll said.

While the long touchdown passes are what most will remember, Barkley's best pass of the day may have been an incompletion that sailed ten feet over the nearest players head.

Barkley dropped back, moved right in the pocket and threw the ball out of bounds after feeling pressure from the defensive line.

"I just realized that it's the safest bet to just check it down or let it fly and not result in a pick or a sack," he said of the play.

Barkley has already proven that he can make the big play, but right now, making the little plays like knowing when to throw the ball away could help him make a big leap.

News and Notes

- Aaron Corp (knee), Marquis Simmons (hamstring), Stanley Havili (shoulder), and Stafon Johnson were among the players that didn't participate in Tuesday's practice. Freshman safety T.J. McDonald returned to action.

- The offensive line had their best day of run blocking on Tuesday, opening up several massive holes and springing the tailbacks for big gains. Allen Bradford and Curtis McNeal both had a pair of long runs and Joe McKnight made his usual nifty runs.

"The running backs know how to hit the holes, and they pick us apart if we're really not right on the money," Carroll said. "It's a very disciplined group. Pat's got a great bunch of guys to work with. He's got 12 guys or something that he's rotating through there, so it's a fantastic position group for us."

- Walk-on transfer Ahmed Mokhtar, who previously played at Oregon State, also added a long touchdown run and has been a very pleasant surprise in camp.

"I like his attitude. I really like his style. He comes downhill at you and brings it," Carroll said of Mokhtar. "He's got a physical attitude about him. He's going to sit out this year, but he'll be great on service team for us. He's all prepared to be a big factor for us. He's been impressive. He's done a nice job."

- Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey has been one of the real standouts on the defensive side of the ball so far. Casey has been very disruptive in the middle of the defensive line and continued to cause havoc today causing observers to remark how much he looked and played like Mike Patterson.

- T.J. Bryant nearly intercepted a Matt Barkley pass during 7-on-7. The quarterbacks have thrown some bad passes during camp but still haven't been picked off.

"We're just missing the football. We've got to catch some of those," Carroll said. "They're not throwing many balls that are easy balls to catch; we've missed a few of them, though."

- The defense got good pressure on Matt Barkley during the blitz period. Wes Horton, Josh Pinkard and Mike Morgan were among the players that recorded sacks.

- Freshman wide receiver De'Von Flournoy added another touchdown reception on Tuesday, which came on a 25-yard strike from Mitch Mustain.

- Faces in the crowd: Legendary offensive lineman Brad Budde was on campus to watch the Trojans practice as was former linebacker Dallas Sartz and men's basketball player Leonard Washington.

- Wednesday will be the first day in full pads for the Trojans. Practice starts at 3 p.m. and is open to the public.


Allen Bradford showed off his speed and strength throughout Tuesday's practice.


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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com



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