USC’s Matt Barkley seeks ‘new beginning’ in Emerald Bowl

It’s a fresh start for Matt Barkley.

USC’s freshman quarterback said Wednesday that he regards the Dec. 26 Emerald Bowl against Boston College as an opportunity for “a new beginning.”

Barkley, who has passed for 13 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, has tried to forget about much of the season -- “even the good wins,” he said -- as he readies for a performance that he hopes will carry into 2010.

“It’s huge for me personally,” he said of the game at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. “If I play well . . . then we’ll get that solid victory. We’ll be able to get that confidence back, which should help our team as a whole.”

Barkley is happy that finals have ended, giving him plenty of time to prepare for Boston College.

Barkley’s season included several highs and a second half of mostly lows.

Coach Pete Carroll said the mental rigors of starting “had to be burdensome for a young guy.”

But it was Carroll, of course, who put Barkley in that position, opting to start and stick with the former Santa Ana Mater Dei star rather than turn to third-year sophomore Aaron Corp or junior MitchMustain for anything other than injury-relief or mop-up duty.

“He’s endured it and he’ll be much better and stronger for it,” Carroll said of Barkley. “There’s all kinds of things that he’ll improve at from the day the season’s over.

“He has a really big upside that has yet to show, and it will.”

Carroll blamed the Trojans’ defense in the second half of the season for putting pressure on Barkley.

“As it turned out, a couple of those games we messed it up so bad on defense we really didn’t put him in a position to have a very successful opportunity,” Carroll said.

Now Barkley and the Trojans must try to rebound from a second half in which they lost three of their last five games.

“It’s a new time for us and to think anything else would be putting your head in the sand,” Carroll said.

“There’s a difference to how you look at things -- when you’re on top looking down at everybody who’s trying to get you, and where we are right now. We have to climb our way back up.”

Wright cleared

Junior cornerback Shareece Wright, who was academically ineligible this season, has been cleared to play in the Emerald Bowl, Carroll said.

Wright, T.J. Bryant and Brian Baucham are competing to start in place of sixth-year senior Josh Pinkard, who suffered a knee injury against Arizona. Pinkard will have surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament for the third time.

“He knows how to deal with this and come back,” Carroll said in regard to Pinkard’s aspirations of playing in the NFL.

Quick hits

Safety Will Harris practiced after missing the first two workouts because of an abscessed tooth. . . . Safety Taylor Mays was selected to the College Football News All-American team. Offensive tackle Charles Brown on Tuesday was announced as a member of the Sporting News All-American team. He also was the winner of the Pacific 10 Conference’s Morris Trophy as the league’s top offensive lineman. Defensive end Nick Perry is on the Sporting News freshman All-American team.