Sunday, September 27, 2009

USC 27, WSU 6: Barkley bites back

One week after the Trojans fell asleep at the wheel against the Washington Huskies, Pete Carroll turned the keys to the car back over to Matt Barkley. The true freshman QB threw two touchdowns coming off of a shoulder injury en route to USC's 27-6 win over the Washington State Cougars on Saturday night.

Barkley's impact was immediate - both on the field and in the minds of the fans. He entered the huddle to chants of "Barkley! Barkley! Barkley!" and completed his first pass on a roll out for a first down. Two plays later, Joe McKnight pulled into the end zone for a 7-0 Trojans lead.

Last week's offensive ineptitude was surpassed in the first quarter. Barkley's second TD pass of the quarter, a 57-yard strike following a surprise onside kick, gave the Trojans 136 passing yards compared to Aaron Corp's 110 yards against UW in Seattle. Barkley finished the game 13 for 22 with 247 yards with no interceptions. Yes he had a few throws that seemed off the mark, but nothing that was going to cost the Trojans in this win.

Corp got a chance to mop up for Barkley in garbage time, during which the Trojans called a steady stream of running plays. It's clear who the Trojans #1 QB is and will be for the next era of Trojan football.

A few other notes from the game that proved why no one wants to be seen with a Cougar:

+ The defense swarmed the field on Saturday. The Trojans snagged the ball away from the Cougars three times including an interception that halted a Wazzu drive that should have resulted in a few points. USC totaled 4.5 sacks on the day and put constant pressure on the quarterback. The Men of Troy also held the Cougars to just 1.8 yards per rush.

+ Wazzu missed another chance for a few points at the end of the first half. The Trojans defense sacked Cougars QB Jeff Tuel on 3rd down with 25 seconds left in the half. With the clock running, the field goal unit sprinted onto the field, go into position, and with 6 second left in the half, kicker Nico Grasu couldn't connect as the half ended.

+ Grasu had a rough night for the Cougars. He also missed an extra point after the only Wazzu score of the game.

For the Trojans, they next go to Cal with a 3-1 record and a chance to prove they have put the ugliness of Seattle behind them. Cal is coming off an embarrassing blow out loss at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Two Pac-10 teams who each have plenty to prove. Get ready for the weekender.

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