After a week of being criticized for his handling of the quarterback situation, Pete Carroll ended all suspense on Wednesday by naming Matt Barkley the starting quarterback for Saturday's matchup against Washington State.
"We are going to go with Matt in the game. He's ready to go. It's clear that he had a very good day today, feels good about it, and off and running we go," Carroll said. "I am happy to get him back out there.
"I think it feels right and he's excited to get back out there and have his mind in it. I think it will help him the next couple of days."
Barkley returned to action this week, and while still not 100 percent, he has shown enough in practice to retake his spot as the leader of the offense.
"I just wanted to see if he was OK, and I feel like he's OK. He is going to give us the best chance to win right now."
When asked about the deciding factor, Carroll replied, "Just the way he responded today. He came back out and could throw and felt alright about it. He could get the majority of the work, that really made the difference."
Barkley's throwing motion is still slightly altered because of the shoulder injury but Carroll said he is able to make all the throws that they will ask to make in this week's game plan.
"It's controlled still, and we are trying to make sure that he makes it through the practice," he said. "But he is able to throw all the throws that we are doing in the game plan, so he's OK."
It remains to be seen if Barkley's shoulder will force the coaches into another conservative game plan but Bates said he understands the need to be more aggressive.
"We've got to open it up. We've got to get into more three-wides and four-wides and do some seven-step drops and all that good stuff that USC's done in the past," Bates said. "And spread it around a little bit. We've got some playmakers, and we've got to get the ball in their hands."
- Taylor Mays returned to practice in a limited role and Carroll was optimistic that he could play against Washington State.
"It looks like Taylor had a really good day today too," Carroll said. "We will see how he responds tomorrow but he's got a chance to play this week also."
- Luthur Brown was experiencing back issues on Wednesday and was held out of practice.
"Luthur Brown's back has acted up," Carroll said. "He's had a long standing issue with his back and it just kind of locked up a little bit and he couldn't do much today. He didn't have much flexibility."
- Linebacker Malcolm Smith will likely miss Saturday's game against Washington State, but got some good news, when his sprained ankle wasn't as severe as first thought. Smith could return as early as next week.
"He is better than they thought he was going to be today. They thought it was going to be a good solid week, but he did quite a bit of rehab and stuff," Carroll said. "It's going to be a struggle for him to make it for the game. But it looks like he is going to jump right back after this week.
"He didn't do anything on the field today but through his rehab they thought he was going to be really sore and he made it through. There is no swelling so he has a chance to make a quick recovery."
- A decision on the starting punter won't come until tomorrow but Jacob Harfman appears to be making a run at the starting spot.
"Jake has had a very good week," Carroll said. "He has hit the ball the best he's hit at any time since he has been here. This has been his most consistent week and he is making a bid for it."
- The passing game has really missed the presence of Ronald Johnson. Carroll said that Johnson is still four weeks from returning to action.
"Rojo is coming out of the sling on Saturday and they are really pleased with how it is settling in but it hasn't healed yet," he said. "He's still probably four weeks away."
Linebacker Luthur Brown missed practice because of issues with his back.
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