USC’s Matt Barkley doesn’t mind being out of the limelight
It’s been a surprisingly quiet week for Matt Barkley.
USC’s sophomore quarterback passed for a career-best five touchdowns in the Trojans’ opener against Hawaii, completing 78% of his passes without an interception.
But as 16th-ranked USC prepared for Saturday’s home opener against Virginia, Barkley was not a hot topic of national discussion.
Not that he’s complaining.
“Maybe it was the fact that it was on [television] at 11 at night on the East Coast and people didn’t want to stay up till 3 in the morning,” Barkley said Thursday, chuckling. “If we play like that over and over again we will get noticed.”
Most of the attention regarding USC has centered on a defense that is hoping to bounce back from an embarrassing performance against Hawaii.
The defensive problems overshadowed Barkley, who played the most complete and efficient game in his 13 career starts.
“We’ll see if he can continue to do it again,” Coach Lane Kiffin said, adding “Great quarterbacks put together good games every week. “
USC will be playing at home for the first time since last season’s 21-17 defeat by Arizona in the regular-season finale, a loss that left the Trojans with “kind of a sour taste in our mouths,” Barkley said.
It’s also USC’s first game at the Coliseum since the departure of Pete Carroll, the hiring of Kiffin, the handing down of NCAA sanctions, the departure of former athletic director Mike Garrett and the arrival of his successor, Pat Haden.
“I’m confident that our fans are going to be louder than normal and just be there supporting us more than ever after all that’s gone on,” Barkley said.
Barkley hopes to put on a show.
“I’m just trying to be as perfect as I can,” he said. “Last week was pretty close, but that perfect game is kind of a goal and that’s no incompletions. We’ll see what happens.”
Baxter can’t wait
After three practices of rotating in with the first-unit offense, freshman tailback Dillon Baxter is eager to contribute when he makes his debut against Virginia.
“I’m ready mentally,” said Baxter, who sat out the opener after he was suspended for violating team rules. “I’ve been thinking about this game for a long time.”
Junior Marc Tyler, the Pacific 10 Conference rushing leader, will start at tailback and senior Allen Bradford also figures to play, but Baxter will get his touches.
Kiffin said the suspension appears to have helped Baxter turn a corner.
“He does seem to be more mature,” Kiffin said. “He seems to be handling his business. He’s doing better in school, doing better with our academic services, so he needs to continue that.”
If Nick Perry is fully recovered from a high ankle sprain, the starting defensive line will be Perry and Wes Horton at ends, Jurrell Casey at nose tackle and Armond Armstead at tackle. … Junior cornerback T.J. Bryant continued to get extended reps as freshman Nickell Robey remained limited.