Barkley Wins Arms Race

South Bend, Ind. - Matt Barkley and Jimmy Clausen, the two best quarterback prospects to come out of Los Angeles in several years, squared off Saturday night in South Bend in a classic game that showcased both players' talents.

Matt Barkley and Jimmy Clausen, the two best quarterback prospects to come out of Los Angeles in several years, squared off Saturday night in South Bend in a classic game that showcased both players' talents.

Barkley led the Trojans to victory while passing for a career-high 380 yards and 2 touchdowns, both of which were to junior wide receiver Damian Williams.

"I thought it was an extraordinary day for our quarterback," Carroll said after USC's 34-27 victory. "I think you see Matt Barkley is really something."

The strong-armed freshman has shown remarkable poise in his young career.

His resume already includes a game-winning drive, which came in one of the most hostile environments in college football.

"He's just so poised and so comfortable in the arena that it doesn't really matter where we're playing; it doesn't affect him," Carroll said.

Barkley led USC's offense 86 yards in the closing minutes to give the Trojans an 18-15 win in front of 106,033 screaming fans at Ohio State.

And that was in his second game in college.

"You really have to believe you're going to score in that situation," he said in Columbus. "I knew we were going to score."

Barkley quickly silenced the Cal crowd with a solid performance in his first conference road game, and Saturday he looked like all the talented, veteran quarterbacks that Pete Carroll has mentored at USC, lighting up the Irish defense in South Bend.

"He's just remarkable," Carroll said. "There's no way to describe it because there's nobody else to compare him to in our history."

All the fans and critics that are waiting for this kid to finally make a freshman mistake or get rattled by all the attention and expectations, may never get their wish, because as Pete Carroll has said on a nearly daily basis, Matt Barkley isn't your average freshman.

The calm presence in the huddle isn't a put on, the steady hand in the face of adversity isn't an act, like the impressive numbers that he is putting up, everything that you have seen from Barkley is real.

"He has this great inner strength and confidence that allows him to be unwaivered," Carroll said.

The freshman from Mater Dei has shattered all expectations in his time at USC.

Since the opening of fall camp just a few months ago, he has gone from a solid No.2 option, to the first USC freshman quarterback to ever start the opener, to a budding star with a perfect record as a starter.

In a time when players rarely live up to the hype and are anointed saviors before ever stepping on the field, Barkley has shown the skills, maturity and leadership to warrant the praise.

Pete Carroll has coached Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez, so it's safe to say that he knows what good quarterback play looks like, and he isn't shy in his admiration of his first-year quarterback.

"He's doing everything any of the quarterbacks that have played for us have done," Carroll said. "I'm not saying he's better than Carson or Matt.

"He's capable of doing anything their offense was doing when they were playing in the middle of their careers. That's remarkable."

Carroll received a decent dose of criticism when he named Barkley the starter before the opener against San Jose State, and as one reporter commented at the time, "He must know something we don't."

As it turns out he did.

Carroll saw past Barkley's interceptions in practice and wasn't fazed by his inexperience.

The best coach in college football took what was perceived to be a risk and is now enjoying the rewards of his gamble.


Matt Barkley had a career-high 380 passing yards against Notre Dame.


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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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