Matt Barkley reflects on interception, says he will focus on improved consistency
USC quarterback Matt Barkley called it “a stupid play,” the second-quarter red-zone interception he threw on first down Saturday against Arizona State.
A window to freshman receiver Robert Woods was there, Barkley said, but “those situations where you’re rolling [out] on the run, you’ve just got to throw it out.”
USC Coach Lane Kiffin called it “the most disappointing play of the game,” adding that it typifies Barkley’s struggles with consistency.
“He gets so anxious to make plays all the time that he’s been an up-and-down season that way,” Kiffin said.
Barkley has had back-to-back games with two interceptions twice this season, and Kiffin said the red-zone interception was identical to Barkley’s first-quarter interception against Washington State, which also came on first down in the red zone and followed a blocked punt.
“Those are the tough situations as a quarterback because you feel the progressiveness of the call, you feel the time and if you strike right there, what it does for your team … but you’ve got to control that,” Kiffin said.
Barkley said improving consistency is his main plan for USC’s final four games this season.
Aside from some blocking issues and a few cutback plays he missed, tailback Dillon Baxter liked his first start Saturday, when he gained 52 yards on 17 carries and caught four passes for 26 yards.
“I think I got in the groove pretty good for the first time,” Baxter said.
It’s unclear who will start at Arizona, though.
Running back Marc Tyler suffered a mild ankle sprain against Arizona State, when he gained 119 yards on 12 carries, but said he should be fine to practice Thursday.
Tailback C.J. Gable, who suffered a bone bruise suffered against California, may be a dark horse after an excellent practice Tuesday with several long runs.
“It’s the first day we’ve really seen C.J. look full speed since his injury,” Kiffin said. “He looked very good today, so it will be interesting to see as the week goes out.”
McDonald saw it coming
Safety T.J. McDonald earned Pacific 10 Conference defensive player of the week honors after his brilliant special teams’ performance Saturday, which included a blocked punt and a deflected punt.
McDonald said he knew entering the game that he could probably get to a punt, and that after the blocked punt in the second quarter, Arizona State even changed its protection scheme against him.
McDonald called that block his favorite play of the night, though he wished it would have been a touchdown return.
“I was hoping I was going to be able to pick it up and take it, but I couldn’t find it,” he said.
Kicker Joe Houston missed three field goals near the end of practice, hooking two left and one right.… Woods was limited in practice, but said his nausea is gone, his lingering back pain is nearly gone, and that he will return soon.… Freshman receiver Markeith Ambles and redshirt freshman linebacker Simione Vehikite rejoined the team after serving suspensions for issues related to missing classes and tutoring sessions.… UCLA announced Tuesday that the USC-UCLA game held at the Rose Bowl on Dec. 4 will kick off at 7:30 p.m., and that the game will be televised nationally by Fox Sports Net.
Go beyond the scoreboard
Get the latest on L.A.'s teams in the daily Sports Report newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.