Saturday, April 14, 2012
2012 spring game recap
By Pedro Moura
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Barkley didn't have a great day at the Coliseum for the USC Trojans' annual spring game on Saturday, but he did do a lot more than expected, based on the other scrimmages USC has played this spring.
Two weeks ago, he didn't even attempt a single pass. A week ago, he largely gave way to backups Cody Kessler and Max Wittek.
This time, the senior signal-caller completed 23-of-39 pass attempts for 212 yards, one touchdown and one interception in what was by far his most participated-in scrimmage of the spring. He threw three times as many passes as Kessler (3-of-6 for 68 yards) and Wittek (3-of-7 for 27) combined.
USC coach Lane Kiffin indicated the decision to use Barkley so much was based on two factors: 1. The Trojans weren't tackling, to keep injuries at a minimum; 2. They were getting some offensive weapons back healthy that hadn't been on the field for a scrimmage in weeks.
Tight end Xavier Grimble and receiver De'Von Flournoy were among the players who participated who hadn't suited up in recent weeks.
For the game, score was kept in an offense vs. defense fashion, with the Trojans' defensive players awarded three points for stops on drives and five points for turnovers. The defense won, 34-27, with the offense scoring three touchdowns and two field goals and the defense stopping eight drives and collecting two turnovers.
Barkley was asked after the scrimmage if he felt as if, at the end of the spring, the Trojans are a national-championship contending team.
"Not yet," Barkley said. "Not anywhere close to that yet. We still have a lot of work to do to get there. Based off talent, you might say that, but there's a lot more that goes into that than talent."
Statistically, running back D.J. Morgan led the Trojans with six carries for 53 yards, including one touchdown, and was named the MVP of the day by Kiffin. Flournoy and Lee both caught seven passes for 69 and 57 yards, respectively, and fullback Soma Vainuku added four catches for 66 yards, including a memorable 44-yard catch-and-run.
Cornerback Isiah Wiley led the USC defense with five deflections and four tackles, and linebacker Hayes Pullard and cornerback Anthony Brown tied for the team-high with six tackles. Defensive ends Devon Kennard, Greg Townsend Jr. and Morgan Breslin all recorded "sacks," which weren't actually sacks because the scrimmage did not include tackling.
Final notes: The announced attendance at the Coliseum was 15,515. All fans were allowed onto the field after the scrimmage for an autograph session with Kiffin and the players. Barkley drew the largest crowd of autograph-seekers. ... USC auditioned several potential PA announcers for the gameday slot this upcoming season, including Eric Smith, who currently fulfills the same job for the Dodgers. USC says Dennis Packer, who has held down the post for a number of year, may be replaced. ... Eight Trojans greats visited for the game and spoke to current players on the sidelines. Ronnie Lott, Marcus Allen, Junior Seau, Anthony Munoz, Sam Cunningham, Keyshawn Johnson, Tony Boselli and Willie McGinest made up the group.