Matt Barkley takes praise with a grain of sugar

USC quarterback Matt Barkley isn’t getting caught up in the hype, or in Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian’s assessment of him.

Sarkisian said this week that if he were an NFL coach, he’d take Barkley ahead of Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, the presumed No. 1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft.

“I definitely think it’s a little sugarcoating,” Barkley said Tuesday. “We’ll see what he says in March or after this game.”

Not that Barkley disagrees. He’d also take himself over Luck.

“Well, yeah,” he said. “Self-confidence, right?”

USC Coach Lane Kiffin, who became coach of the Oakland Raiders in 2007 after Sarkisian passed on the opportunity, has described Luck as possibly the best quarterback in college football history.

Asked what Sarkisian’s choice of Barkley over Luck said of his friend and former colleague’s evaluation skills, Kiffin quipped, “He’s never been an NFL head coach, remember? He turned it down. Made me go.”

So who would Kiffin choose if he were still an NFL coach?

“I can’t make that decision,” he said. “I’m just trying to get ready for this week.”


Kiffin, however, gives Luck one edge.

“He’s faster,” Kiffin said. “Nothing against Matt, it just is what it is. He’s faster and can make more plays running way from people.”

Barkley enters Saturday’s game against Washington coming off a record-setting six-touchdown performance against Colorado.

The junior has passed for 28 touchdowns, with five interceptions, putting him on track to finish with the best passing season by a quarterback in USC history.

Matt Leinart passed for 38 touchdowns, with nine interceptions, in 2003.

The right Price

After having Jake Locker beat them twice with fourth-quarter drives, the Trojans are glad Locker is now with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

But Huskies quarterback Keith Price, a third-year sophomore from Compton, could pose problems at the Coliseum.

Price, a former Bellflower St. John Bosco High standout, has passed for 25 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. He passed for at least three touchdowns in the Huskies’ first six games.

“He’s grown up in the system since the day he stepped into college, and I think he understands the nuances of the system and that’s why he’s been so successful,” Sarkisian said.

Price struggled last week against Oregon. He had two passes intercepted and was sacked six times.

“Part of the reason why he didn’t play one of his better games … was because he got away from those nuances of the system and tried a little too hard,” Sarkisian said. “So we have to get back to that and get back to that quickly.”

Quick hits

Tailback Marc Tyler, who did not play against Colorado because of a shoulder injury, was limited during practice but has been cleared to play. ... Linebacker Dion Bailey participated in most drills but has not been cleared to play, Kiffin said. Running back George Farmer (ankle) will be a game-time decision.