Monday Practice: The Fab Five

While the steady play of first-year quarterback Matt Barkley was the story of the day, and rightfully so, USC fans had to be pleased to see four other freshmen receive valuable playing time on Saturday. Look inside for all the news, notes and quotes from Monday's practice.

The Fab Five

While the steady play of first-year quarterback Matt Barkley was the story of the day, and rightfully so, USC fans had to be pleased to see four other freshmen receive valuable playing time on Saturday.

Barkley was as poised as Pete Carroll promised, even if the media didn't believe he would be, completing 15-of-19 pass attempts for 233 yards and a touchdown toss.

"He had a good solid game and when it comes down to it he continues to do what we expect him to do," Carroll said. "Barkley knows who he is and has great belief in his ability."

Joe McKnight added: "Barkley is like a junior right now. He is just focused and ready to play football."

Barkley led the USC offense to a blowout win over San Jose State by playing mistake-free football while showing great leadership and confidence in his college debut.

"I was not nervous at all," Barkley said. "I got some goose bumps during the Trojan Walk, but I came out early and threw and really got settled. The only thing different than practice was there were fans in the stands."

Freshman wide receiver De'Von Flournoy also got into the game on Saturday.

With the absence of Ronald Johnson, Flournoy could be called upon to provide a deep threat in the coming weeks.

On the defensive side of the ball, three true freshmen made their debuts against San Jose State and all were very productive.

Pete Carroll said on National Signing Day that he was counting on Jarvis Jones to make an immediate impact at linebacker and the 6-foot-3 freshman from Columbus Georgia did just that.

Jones was in the rotation early at strong-side linebacker and finished tied for third on the team with 5 tackles including a tackle for loss.

Defensive end Devon Kennard, who missed the majority of his senior season at Desert Vista High School after tearing ligaments in his knee, has made a nice recovery.

"I didn't want to miss another season," Kennard said. "I worked harder than anyone could understand this offseason to get where I am at."

Like Jones, Kennard recorded 5 tackles and a tackle for loss.

"It really helped me realize that it isn't that much different than high school," Kennard said. "It's different, but it's still just football at the end of the day."

T.J. McDonald is currently listed as the Trojans' backup strong safety and contributed in the secondary, as well delivering a big hit on special teams.

"I felt like I made the most of my opportunity," McDonald said.

McDonald was slowed for most of fall camp after suffering an ankle injury but has been very impressive in practice this past week and looked very comfortable against San Jose State.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound safety made a tackle on the very first play that he lined up in the secondary.

"My first play, the running back bounced outside and I made the tackle," McDonald said. "It definitely got the nerves out."

Carroll loves to showcase the freshmen during fall camp and he has found a handful of freshmen that are ready to make an impact in '09.

Hot Reads

- The Trojans were in helmets and shorts for an hour practice at Cromwell Field on Monday. The team practiced on the turf to get ready for playing at Ohio Stadium.

"We have always come over here on the Mondays that we are playing on the turf," Carroll said.

- Drew McAllister, Jurrell Casey, Armond Armstead, and Ronald Johnson were among the players that didn't participate in practice on Monday.

Casey missed practice because he was sick.

"I don't know if it's the flu or what it is but he was in the infirmary today," Carroll explained.

- Center Kristofer O'Dowd and defensive tackle Averell Spicer both participated in practice on Monday.

"He looked pretty good," Carroll said of Spicer. "We are going to take it one day at a time but he pretty looked good out her today, so that is a good sign."

Kris O'Dowd practiced today and was pleased with how his knee responded to the work.

"I feel pretty comfortable doing everything," O'Dowd said. "It's going to be a little bit sore because I haven't been out here doing contact stuff but I am really happy. I took probably thirty or forty plays today."

- The Trojans racked up 342 rushing yards against San Jose State, which was the result of some nifty moves by the tailbacks and some huge holes by the talented offensive line.

"Our offensive line said they are going to take us to the moon, so we are on their backs," Allen Bradford said. "We put 100 percent trust in them."

- Matt Barkley handled his college debut with relative ease but this week will be a much bigger challenge on the road in a very hostile environment.

"It is not going to make a difference at Ohio State," Barkley said. "We will focus on ourselves this week. The atmosphere will be nuts, but getting pumped up because of the crowd is not my style."

- After reviewing the film of Saturday's 56-3 win over San Jose State, Coach Carroll said the running backs were one group that really stood out.

"I thought that the running backs really played well as a group," Carroll said. "They all were really aggressive, ran tough, hit holes well and made guys miss. There were some terrific runs."

- Carroll said an area that needs improvement is punting. Bill O'Malley averaged just 34.7 yards per punt in the opener.

"We didn't punt the ball very well," Carroll said. "The one punt where we were backed up gave us really bad field position. We can kick the ball better than that."

- Freshman defensive back Byron Moore intercepted a Garrett Green pass during 11-on-11.


Matt Barkley and the 2009 class came up big in the opener. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)


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