USC: Eddie Pleasant

Barkley: Oregon's defense still vulnerable

November, 15, 2011
USC quarterback Matt Barkley said after Saturday's 40-17 win over Washington that the Oregon Ducks, the Trojans' next opponent, have been better in the past than they are in 2011.

But his head coach, Lane Kiffin, said the next day that Barkley would realize he should retract his statements once he started watching film of the Ducks, and Barkley did just that after Tuesday's practice.

“They’re a great team,” Barkley said. “They’re well-deserving of their ranking. That (assessment) was just based off of scores I had seen -- I had never really watched them.

"After watching tape of them, they’re probably one of the top defenses we’ll be facing this year."

But, even so, he maintained that there are options on offense for USC. There are ways to beat the Ducks, he said.

“They show a lot of different fronts, a lot of different coverages and blitzes," Barkley said. "They try to confuse you. But there are weaknesses and holes that we’ll have to exploit."

“They get after it when they do that, and they’ll catch you off guard. That’s when we have to be smart enough to, especially me, recognize those and get our offense in the right checks. But they are vulnerable in some aspects.”

After Barkley's initial comments, Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant told Eugene-area reporters that the Ducks "don't even care" what any of the Trojans have to say about the matchup.

“Ever since I’ve been here (USC players) always have something to say before we play them,” Pleasant said, according to The Oregonian. “We just can’t do nothing about that. We just have to go out there and play."

Barkley named Pac-12 player of the week

November, 7, 2011
USC quarterback Matt Barkley was named the Pac-12 Conference offensive player of the week Monday after his record-breaking six-touchdown performance against Colorado on Friday.

In the Trojans' 42-17 win over the Buffaloes, Barkley completed 25-of-39 passes for 318 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. The touchdowns set a new school record, breaking the long-time mark of five set by Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez, among others.

It's Barkley's third such honor this season. He was also named the offensive player of the week after USC's Week 3 win over Syracuse and its Week 5 win over Arizona. He threw for five touchdowns against the Orange and set a school record for passing yards in a single game against the Wildcats.

Other players nominated for the offensive award included Arizona State's Cameron Marshall, UCLA's Derrick Coleman and Stanford's Griff Whalen.

Oregon rover Eddie Pleasant won the defensive award; USC punter Kyle Negrete was nominated for the special teams award, which was won by Utah punter Sean Sellwood.

First, first look: Oregon

July, 29, 2011
As the weeks count down until USC football fall camp begins on Aug. 4, we've been offering up an early first look at the 12 scheduled opponents for the 2011 season, in chronological order. We began back in May with Minnesota, Utah and Syracuse, continued the next three weeks with Arizona State, Arizona, and Cal and added Notre Dame, Stanford, Colorado and Washington recently. We now present Oregon, who the Trojans will play on the road on Saturday, Nov. 19:

History: Oregon has won seven of the last 11 games played between the schools, a period of dominance unmatched in the Ducks' history against the Trojans.

All-time, USC still leads the series 37-18-2. This is a matchup of, at this point, teams on opposite trajectories. Oregon is on the way up; USC is on the way down. Look at the last two head-to-head matchups -- Oregon 47, USC 20 and Oregon 53, USC 32 -- for evidence of that.

Of course, a game like this can help reverse things.

An interesting note about the schools' recent histories: Of the last seven Oregon-USC games, only one has been decided by 10 points or fewer -- and none by less than a touchdown. Five of the last six have also been won by the better-ranked team entering into the game.

Offense: Darron Thomas and LaMichael James are the stars, at quarterback and running back, respectively.

Thomas, a redshirt junior who played his first year and sat out his second, is a true talent who had a very, very good season as a first-year starter in 2010. Coach Chip Kelly didn't ask him to do too much, and he didn't try to. His touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio was a healthy 30-to-9, and he was 17th nationally in passing efficiency. There's also, of course, his running ability -- he carried the ball 93 times for 486 yards and five touchdowns last season.

Oregon's running back corps is probably the best in the nation. James, also a redshirt junior, was a unanimous first-team All-American last season with more than 1700 yards rushing. Then there's Kenjon Barner, a dynamite returner who quietly accumulated 551 yards on the ground as a backup last year. The Ducks also add redshirt freshman Lache Seastrunk and true freshman DeAnthony Thomas into the mix, both five-star prospects out of high school who USC recruited heavily.

Oh, and then there's senior tight end David Paulson, an all-conference first-team pick. He was the Ducks' representative at Pac-12 media day last week.

But, hey, their two top receivers and three starting offensive linemen are gone, so it's not all a nightmare. Oregon will need production from junior college transfer receivers Lavasier Tuinei and Rahsaan Vaughn, plus sophomore Josh Huff, who had a 57-yard catch against the Trojans last season.

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