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Sunday, September 4, 2011
Barkley to Woods, again and again

By Pedro Moura

Over an hour after Saturday's 19-17 win over Minnesota had ended, after he was the last player to emerge from the Trojans' off-limits locker room, a reporter began to ask USC's Robert Woods about his Heisman candidacy, but the Trojans' talented sophomore receiver didn't let him finish.

"It doesn’t really matter to me," Woods said. "I’m just going to go home, turn on film and get ready for Utah next week.

"I just do what I can. [Coach Lane] Kiffin's making the calls. He's letting me know what I'm doing. I just run routes and catch the ball."

It was an interesting reaction from a 19-year-old whose Twitter username is @HeismanWoods. But it goes with what he's long said publicly about any potential Heisman run -- the Gardena Serra product never says much of anything about it.

And most sensational question surrounding this team heading into Week 2 is this: Who will be a better Heisman candidate in 2011, Woods or quarterback Matt Barkley? After Week 1, it might actually be Woods, but that could change. It's not like he's going to be putting up 17-catch, 175-yard, three-touchdown performances on a weekly basis. Barkley's numbers against the Gophers were more, uh, repeatable, as the junior signal-caller threw for 304 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 76 percent of his passes.

Neither of these players are likely to win the award, in large part because this team probably isn't going to win more than 10 games, if even that, and won't play in a bowl game. But it's fun to think about, isn't it?

You know what else is fun to think about? What this tandem could do the rest of the year. Even if Woods' numbers fall off dramatically, he's got to be a favorite to put up 100 yards week in and week out considering just how much this offense relies on his expertise.

And those numbers that Kiffin and quarterbacks coach Clay Heltonthrew out this week for Barkley's 2011 season, they're starting to look pretty realistic, too. Even with eight drops from his receivers and tight ends (mostly tight ends), Barkley still beat out that number, and he's on pace to throw 36 TDs on the year even though USC scored just 19 points Saturday.

For a team that didn't have a very auspicious season opener, there are certainly a couple of things to look forward to and follow as the season progresses -- as in two: (1) Barkley and (2) Woods.