USC: Nick Foles

Lunch links: Graham likes his offense

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
2:30
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It is absolutely necessary, for the peace and safety of mankind, that some of earth's dark, dead corners and unplumbed depths be left alone; lest sleeping abnormalities wake to resurgent life, and blasphemously surviving nightmares squirm and splash out of their black lairs to newer and wider conquests.

Another epic clash for Scott, Barkley?

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
11:30
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Last weekend, Arizona's Matt Scott and USC's Matt Barkley led their teams to victory and played well. And, of course, you heard a lot more about Barkley than Scott.

For one, Barkley was brilliant and Scott was just very good. Barkley completed 19 of 20 passes for 298 yards with six touchdowns and no interceptions against Colorado. It was the most efficient performance in the country this year and the most efficient in the history of the Pac-12. And, oh by the way, he now has 102 career TD passes, a Pac-12 record.

[+] EnlargeMatt Barkley
Russ Isabella/US PresswireSenior QB Matt Barkley has the Trojans sitting at 6-1 (4-1 Pac-12) entering Week 9.
Scott, who leads the Pac-12 in passing yards per game with 336.4, played a more supporting role while throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for 43 yards and a score in the blowout win over Washington.

Yet it surely felt familiar. USC is always big news, even when it's not winning championships. And Barkley is the most famous college quarterback in the country, even if he's not going to win the Heisman Trophy.

Scott? His outstanding numbers and notably quick adoption of new coach Rich Rodriguez's offense resonates only regionally, if at all. At least that's the case today.

That might change. These two seniors meet for the first time Saturday in Tucson, with Barkley, a four-year starter, trying to lead the Trojans back into the national title picture, which obviously means not overlooking Scott and the Wildcats because of the Nov. 3 date with Oregon.

Check that. These two did meet before, and let's hope this one is as fun as the first time: Oct. 4, 2007.

That's when Barkley, a junior at top-ranked Mater Dei in Santa Anna, Calif., and already highly celebrated, met Scott, a senior at No. 2 Centennial High of Corona, first clashed in front of roughly 10,000 fans in the Santa Ana Bowl.

[+] EnlargeScott
AP Photo/Wily LowSenior QB Matt Scott and the Wildcats are 4-3 (1-3 Pac-12) entering Week 9.
Mater Dei won 51-37 in a game that lasted three hours and 15 minutes and featured 58 first downs and 1,295 yards of offense, a California high school record that only fell this season.

"The fans definitely got their money's worth," Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson told reporters after the game. "That was some show."

Scott passed for 176 yards and rushed for 178. Barkley was 21 of 31 for 364 yards and two touchdowns. The Centennial defense, by the way, featured Vontaze Burfict, Brandon Magee, Shelly Lyons and Will Sutton, who all signed with Arizona State. In a joint interview in 2011, the Pac-12 blog once asked Burfict, Magee and Lyons about this game, and they all became just a bit grumpy. It's fairly well-known that Barkley and Burfict are not exactly close.

Barkley was a five-star prospect in 2008, the nation's highest-rated quarterback. He signed with USC, which at that point was on a dynastic run atop the then-Pac-10, with a 6-1 record in BCS bowl games over the previous seven years and two national titles.

So, what does Rodriguez think of Barkley?

"He's obviously been one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the Pac-12," he said. "He's likely to be the first pick in the NFL draft. We're facing one of the all-time greats and also a tremendous leader."

Scott, a year ahead of Barkley, was a three-star prospect who picked Arizona over California, Boise State and Utah. The Wildcats went 5-7 in 2007, their ninth consecutive non-winning season. He beat out Nick Foles for the starting job in 2009, but then lost out to Foles three games into the season. When Foles was hurt in 2010, he came off the bench and played well, but he opted to redshirt in 2011 so he could finally inherit the keys to the offense as a fifth-year senior.

When asked about Scott, USC coach Lane Kiffin's first word is, "Wow."

"I think he's a phenomenal player," he said. "I didn't realize he is as fast as he is -- accurate, arm strength. He's playing great, doing an unbelievable job with the system."

So there's plenty of mutual admiration for both QBs.

Scott said he and Barkley know each other from football camps and recruiting and get along well. But, yes, it would be meaningful to best Barkley on Saturday.

"Yeah, they are the No. 9-ranked team, so it's going to mean a lot more," Scott said. "It's a big stage, a great quarterback is coming in here. It would mean a lot to outplay him."

If Take 2 is anything like Take 1 in 2007, this one figures to be pretty interesting.

Film study: Arizona

August, 10, 2012
8/10/12
7:24
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Here’s the fourth post in our new ‘film study’ series started last week.

Every other day from now until Aug. 23, we’ll be putting up a set of pertinent-to-this-year notes from each game, going of course in chronological order from the Minnesota season opener to the UCLA season finale. At the end, on Aug. 25, we’ll have one last post with our overall takeaways from the re-watching. By then, it’ll be the week of this year’s opener.

We've already done USC’s 19-17 win over Minnesota, 23-14 win over Utah, 38-17 win over Syracuse and 44-23 loss to Arizona State. Here, now, are our five notes — four big things and a bunch of little ones — from USC’s 48-41 win over Arizona on October 1, 2011.

Letting up

The Trojans led this game 17-0 at one point and 34-12 midway through the third quarter. It should never have gotten to the point that it did in the final minutes, when USC had to recover an onside kick to avoid possible overtime.

In particular, USC's defense on Arizona's final drive was just bad.

Even with a penalty, it only took the Wildcats six pass attempts (and five completions) to go 53 yards against the Trojans in those final minutes. On first-and-goal at the USC 4-yard line with 1:06 to go, Arizona's Nick Foles threads the needle with ease through Shane Horton, Chris Galippo and T.J. McDonald to complete a touchdown pass to Austin Hill at the back of the end zone.

And, earlier, the Wildcats ran 24 plays to the Trojans' 10 in the third quarter. A team entering a period with a 17-point advantage should not be giving up those kind of numbers.

Lee breaks out

This was Marqise Lee's official breakout game, and, as you might expect, it was helped in large part by the dominant play of Robert Woods, who had a ridiculous 255-yard day.

On Lee's 33-yard touchdown catch near the end of the first quarter, Arizona's defenders are drawn out of position by Woods to leave Lee literally wide open in the end zone. It was a masterful play call by Lane Kiffin considering how the game had gone to that point.

One mistake by Lee: He didn't fight for the ball well enough on a slant route he ran in the third quarter, when he was targeted by Barkley. Arizona's Shaquille Richardson jumped the route, but Lee could have done a better job of preventing the interception.

Still, a telling move from him came at the end of the third, when he broke a nice 14-yard gain off a short pass from Matt Barkley but was tackled by his shoestrings as he developed eyes for the end zone. He slammed his hands on the ground repeatedly after the play.

Lee nearly scored two plays later, when he leaped to catch a 45-yard pass from Barkley and hurt his left shoulder as he fell to the ground at the 1-yard line. He was back in the game two possessions later.

McDonald's two picks

T.J. McDonald got really, really lucky in this game.

It's not often you get two interceptions to fall into your hands in one quarter. The junior safety had three picks all season, and two of them came within a five-minute stretch of the first quarter against the Wildcats.

And, to make matters crazier, Foles hadn't thrown a single one on the year heading into the game.

Other than those, though, McDonald still had his best game yet, producing six tackles and breaking up a key deep pass in the fourth that could have changed the outcome.

Pass rush problems

USC had only one sack all game against the Wildcats, who had previously had a lot of trouble keeping Foles off the ground.

Guess who had the sack? The Trojans' only real pass-rusher, Nick Perry. He was really the only one producing pressure on Foles throughout the game, with a little bit of DaJohn Harris mixed in.

That's how Foles was able to complete 41 of 53 passes for 425 yards. The problem had plagued the Trojans in each of their games before this one, but it really came to a head here.

With both Perry and Harris gone in 2012, it's going to be interesting to see who -- if anyone -- gets to opposing signal-callers.

Final notes: Once again, Brandon Carswell was the lead blocker on Woods' 82-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the game. The senior receiver was by far the Trojans' best skill-position blocker. ... Anthony Brown had some really impressive open-field tackles, including one that was nullified by a personal-foul penalty on George Uko. ... Dion Bailey whiffed badly on an opportunity to quickly bring down Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey on his 27-yard scoring grab in the second quarter. ... Kiffin netted the Trojans three extra points with a smart decision to go for it on fourth down in no man's land at the end of the first half. ... This was not Kiffin's happiest day. He was irate at the officials on numerous occasions, including after one curious sideline interference call.

One-on-one with Dion Bailey

July, 18, 2012
7/18/12
12:47
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USC linebacker Dion Bailey isn't afraid to admit it. Playing at 202 pounds last season, he says he often got overpowered when he tried to break through the offensive line and get to the quarterback.

But now, the redshirt sophomore has bulked up to a more sturdy 215 pounds -- and he plans to gain another five before the start of fall camp in August.

The added weight should allow him to play the role of a real linebacker, not the sort of safety-moonlighting-at-strongside thing he was doing last year. And that's important to Bailey, who's always been keenly aware of the public perception of him and his game.

We caught up with him after a Trojans' throwing session last week, talking over that, his expectations for the USC defensive unit this season and several other topics.

Q: You're on two (now four) preseason watch lists already and could be on more. What does that sort of recognition mean to you at this stage in your college career?

A: I don't really pay any mind to it. Preseason stuff doesn't really matter -- all that matters is where you are at the end of the season. It's nice to know I'm on people's radar or whatever, but I don't really pay too much mind to it.

Q: What have you changed since last year? In what ways are you a different player than you were as a freshman?

A: I'm bigger and I'm much stronger from last year. My numbers in the weight room have increased dramatically from previous years, so I think I'll be able to be more of a physical presence in the run attack.

Q: Was that a conscious effort you made, knowing what your weaknesses were last year?

A: Yeah, I'm tired of being overpowered by linemen and stuff like that. I want to be able to hold my ground more steadily throughout the year, on a consistent basis, so I wanted to improve on my strength.

Q: What, specifically, is that strength going to provide to you, do you think?

A: I'm still going to try to react to the ball fast and run through the holes and try to beat the linemen to certain positions and certain places. But if I have to take on linemen, I'll have more of a strong foundation.

(Read full post)

McDonald earns defensive back honor

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
12:46
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USC safety T.J. McDonald was named the Jim Thorpe defensive back of the week Monday after a two-interception performance in the Trojans' 48-41 win over Arizona last week.

McDonald, a junior, picked off Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles twice in the first quarter and added a fourth-quarter onside kick recovery to lead the USC defense. He also added six tackles and a pass breakup to beat out other contenders for the award, such as LSU's Tyrann Mathieu and Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson.

The Thorpe award, in its 25th season, honors the nation's top defensive back each season, selecting from three finalists determined by a committee. LSU's Patrick Peterson won in 2010, following Tennessee's Eric Berry in 2009.

McDonald was one of 37 players named the award's preseason watch list released in July.

Barkley looks back at Arizona

October, 4, 2011
10/04/11
9:22
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Where did Matt Barkley's 468-yard, four-touchdown, one-pick performance against Arizona compare to some of his other top games as a Trojan?

He doesn't know, he said, because he doesn't compare them in-season. He doesn't look at his play against the Wildcats and pit it head-to-head against his play in the season opener against Minnesota or against Syracuse in Week 3.

At the end of the year, he'll look back and compare the progress he has made. But not now, not even after he completed 32-of-39 pass attempts.

"Maybe looking back at it I sometimes do, but I was mad after this last game just because of some of the big shots that I missed still," Barkley said Tuesday. "It’s good when you can count your incompletions on one hand -- that’s what you want to be able to do -- but some of those balls were just terrible throws. Especially that last ball, where I underthrew Brandon [Carswell], and it was eating me up the whole night. It kind of settled in yesterday and Sunday a little bit, just how well our offense played.

"You always want to hold yourself to a high standard.”

Coach Lane Kiffin also holds him to a similar standard but was clearly peeved Tuesday by what he viewed as common criticism of Barkley after the Trojans' loss to Arizona State before the Arizona win. After that game, there were some experts who called out Barkley as an overrated college quarterback and said he wouldn't be a first-round pick in the NFL draft.

That was an overreaction, Kiffin implied. He also compared Barkley's performance to that of his counterpart in the Arizona game, Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles.

Whereas many of Foles' completions came on plays where he was forced to scramble out of the pocket and deliver on-the-run balls to his second or third reads, most of Barkley's passes were more simple. Often he'd take the snap, drop back with three quick steps and deliver a shorter-than-10-yard pass to Robert Woods or Marqise Lee, who then proceeded to double the yardage after the catch.

Which style was better? Kiffin didn't say. But Barkley's team won the game, obviously, and he was named the conference offensive player of the week.

It's clear who won that battle.

Postgame video extras: Arizona

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
9:40
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We'll have more coverage looking back at USC's 48-41 win over Arizona on Sunday and Monday, but this will be for it tonight. Mark Saxon looked at the Trojans' potential for success if Matt Barkley stays for his senior year, and we also covered Marqise Lee's official breakout game and the Trojans' positive turnover margin. We also had the story on the record-breaking night for Barkley, the peculiar sideline interference call, video of Lane Kiffin's postgame news conference and our postgame grades on the blog.

In the meantime, here are video interviews with two of the most important people from Saturday's game to tide you over until Sunday.

Receiver Robert Woods' 14-catch, 255-yard performance was a bit overshadowed in the aftermath of the win over the Wildcats because of Barkley's record-breaking game, but it was Woods who looked for much of the game like he'd be setting new records.

He ended up coming just six yards short of besting R. Jay Soward's all-time school record for receiving yards. And Woods is now just 10 catches and 45 yards away from tying his own numbers from his freshman season. He has already tied his TD total with six. See what the sophomore standout had to say after the game:



On the other side, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles had a remarkable game of his own, throwing the ball 53 times (with 41 completions) for 425 yards and four touchdowns. Nine Wildcat receivers caught at least three passes. See what the senior signal-caller said after the game, Arizona's fourth-straight loss:

Turnovers make enough of a difference

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
9:22
PM PT


Sometimes, two is all it takes.

Safety T.J. McDonald's two first-quarter interceptions on back-to-back drives were a big factor in the Trojans' eventual 48-41 win over Arizona on Saturday, cutting short two burgeoning Wildcat drives in USC territory and leading directly to 10 USC points.

In the end, the topic that Lane Kiffin and Co. harped on this week was proven a worthwhile focus. USC won the turnover margin, 2-1, and won the game.

USC didn't get any more turnovers after the 1:51 mark of the first quarter. But that was all the Trojans needed. Quarterback Matt Barkley made one mistake with his third-quarter interception, but they still won the turnover battle.

In truth, other than the two picks, USC played a poor defensive game. In quarters 2 through 4, Arizona quarterback Nick Foles had what sounds like a remarkable full game: 32-of-37 passing for 349 yards and four touchdowns. And Arizona outscored the Trojans 41-31 in that time.

But McDonald's picks stood as the difference between a win and a loss in what became a shootout.

"To get them early changed the momentum of the game," McDonald said afterward. "It pumped up the team and they were able to go put points on the board. It feels really great and gives our defense a lot of confidence."

That confidence wasn't particularly evident in the final 45 minutes of the game. But that can be partly attributed to USC's Cover-2 style on defense, which can leave holes that can be exploited with short passes.

"We had to follow our rules," said linebacker Dion Bailey, who had a game- and career-high 14 tackles and a pass break-up but no turnovers. "Hopefully they'll mess up and carry the ball loose and we'll come up and knock the ball out or something, but, unfortunately, that didn't happen for us in the second half, and that's why they were able to march on us and put up points."

After the game, the Trojans' head coach made a point subtly complimenting his defense. The unit was better, but not as good as he'd hoped they'd be.

"Credit our defense a bit," he said.

A bit made the difference.

Grades: Arizona-USC

October, 1, 2011
10/01/11
3:54
PM PT
GradePASSING ATTACK

Matt Barkley set a new career-high for passing yards, Robert Woods just missed setting a new school record for receiving yards and Marqise Lee officially broke out, so this has to be a top-notch grade. A number of receivers were worked into the offense.

GradeRUSHING ATTACK

There was really nothing doing for the first three quarters of this one, as Marc Tyler struggled and no other backs were given chances. Once the score got out of hand, the run game started working, but how much is that worth?

GradeIN THE TRENCHES

A better day for the offensive line, which gave Barkley some time to marinate in the pocket on a few key deep balls and kept him off the ground, but the defensive line didn't sack Arizona quarterback Nick Foles until midway through the fourth quarter.

GradeDEFENSE

The only thing saving this from a failing grade is the two interceptions by T.J. McDonald in the first half. If not for those, this defense probably would have given away the game and would have at earned at least a "D" by giving up 41 points.

GradeSPECIAL TEAMS

Andre Heidari made both of his field goals, including a nice 46-yarder in the first quarter. Kyle Negrete didn't have to punt all game, which has to be a positive but can't boost the rating. There were no breakdowns from the return team.

GradeCOACHING

Lane Kiffin's game plan clearly worked, getting the ball to Woods early and then focusing on the other receivers when the Wildcats started to focus on him. But why does he wait until the second half to give USC's most effective runner, Curtis McNeal, the ball?
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Swing by and talk to our staff covering the game against Arizona.
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5 things to watch: Arizona-USC

September, 30, 2011
9/30/11
7:56
AM PT
1. Foles to Criner: Arizona's biggest strength is the connection between its quarterback, senior Nick Foles, and his No. 1 receiver, senior Juron Criner. Criner has posted consecutive solid games against the Trojans the past two years, and all indications are he'll be able to get to 100 yards receiving fairly easily against a USC defense that has nobody who can single-cover him. Nickell Robey, the Trojans' No. 1 corner, is eight inches shorter than Criner and routinely gets beat in the red zone by significantly bigger receivers. This may be a case -- as it often is at the college level with dominant players -- of allowing Criner to get his yards but stopping the rest of the team's targets as much as possible.

ArizonaUSC2. Getting the run game going: It's not USC's biggest strength overall, but it might be in this game. Running back Marc Tyler stands to carry the ball a good 25 0r so times against the Wildcats and needs to make good use of those opportunities, beating up the Arizona defense like other top backs have over the past three weeks. It's the biggest key to a Trojan win because it's a proven method of success, and you can be sure Lane Kiffin will utilize it frequently. If Tyler's not getting the job done, this game makes a lot of sense as an opportunity for backup backs to get significant chances.

3. Playing physically. T.J. McDonald got two penalties for doing this against the Sun Devils, but it's about doing it with the right mindset, and if done right, it can can lead to all kinds of good things for the Trojans. In general, their tackling was subpar against ASU, an attribute that can largely be attributed to a lack of physicality from the entire defense. Take Jawanza Starling's spectacular whiff on Cameron Marshall's 70-yard scoring run on the first drive of that game. If Starling had been committed to getting involved on the play and forcing Marshall out of bounds with his body, the touchdown wouldn't have happened.

4. Turnovers? Turnovers. Three defensive turnovers in four games is not up to USC's standard, and that's been the No. 1 topic of conversation this week in practice. Kiffin is utterly befuddled at it; the players are just disappointed. Here's the thing: Foles doesn't have an interception so far this year, so it's not supremely likely that one of those will happen Saturday, considering the Trojans have only one all season. But forcing fumbles are paramount to this team's success going forward, and if they do end up playing physically, at least a fumble or two should be a per-game standard starting Saturday.

5. A true breakout game for Lee? Kiffin said this week that his freshman wideout, Marqise Lee, is on pace to become the next big receiver at USC in the mold of guys like Mike Williams and Keyshawn Johnson. (Success-wise, not physically. Lee's under 6-foot). If he's going to live up to those ultra-high expectations, he needs to fully break out sometime soon, as his high school teammate, Robert Woods, did last year around this time. Lee's made solid progress this year but has yet to have a true gigantic performance, with no more than four catches or 63 yards in a given game. A weak Wildcat secondary provides a good opportunity for that breakout game to happen.

First look: Arizona

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
9:25
AM PT
It's not a winning streak or a losing streak -- yet.

But it's a streak all the same, and it began Saturday against Arizona State, when Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler tore up the Trojans defense, rendering their pass irrelevant and their secondary ineffective.




From now on, USC's going to face a lot of Osweiler-quality quarterbacks this season. The Pac-12 is, for all intents and purposes, a quarterback's conference. And the Trojans are going to be challenged in the same ways that Osweiler tested them in Tempe.

"We're gonna hit a streak," Trojans coach Lane Kiffin said this week. "We’re going to have to get better in what we’re doing."

That streak begins Saturday with Arizona, a 12:30 p.m. game at the Coliseum. Wildcats quarterback Nick Foles' numbers have been spectacular so far this season, the Michigan State transfer throwing for 10 touchdowns and no interceptions with a completion percentage higher than 70 percent.

After Foles, the Trojans will face Cal and quarterback Zach Maynard, whose numbers are strikingly similar to Matt Barkley's this year aside from a weaker completion percentage. Then comes Notre Dame and Tommy Rees, who beat USC last year, and Stanford and Andrew Luck.

(Read full post)

Unexpected defensive line issues

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
4:31
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After the Trojans opened the 2011 season with three straight wins, USC defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron cautioned observers that his line, again hyped as perhaps the team's best unit, hadn't yet broken out to the extent he expected this year.

"It hasn't happened yet," Orgeron said at the time.

It still hasn't.

It certainly didn't happen in the Trojans' 43-22 loss to Arizona State on Saturday in Tempe, when USC produced just one sack and gave up 169 rushing yards. Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler was rarely pressured and consistently on target with his throws. The only times the Trojans got to him were when they blitzed, and that wasn't very often.

This is a problem, a huge problem -- maybe USC's biggest other than its woeful offensive line, which is going to be a year-long issue, it's now abundantly clear.

But the defensive line wasn't supposed to be an issue. It was supposed to be an asset, six talented pass-rushers sharing four spots and rotating in and out at Orgeron's preference.

Instead, in Saturday's game, only one of those six played well, junior defensive end Nick Perry. Christian Tupou did what he was asked to do at nose guard against a tough opponent in Sun Devil center Garth Gerhart and reserve tackle George Uko recovered a fumble that was later called back, but Devon Kennard, Wes Horton and DaJohn Harris all failed to generate pressure.

"I was really disappointed in our play up front," Orgeron said after the game. "We didn't play very well.

"It was nothing fancy. Just football."

The Trojans will face another talented offense in Arizona in five days, although the Wildcats' offensive line is young and inexperienced and prone to mistakes. Quarterback Nick Foles was sacked five times by Oregon in Arizona's 56-31 loss in Tucson on Saturday.

The task at hand now is simple: At some point soon, this defensive line needs to prove that it is elite, as has been tossed around by some on this team -- or settle into its status as an average unit capable of being beaten head-to-head by a number of Pac-12 lines.

Monte Kiffin shouldn't have to dial up blitzes from linebackers in order to get a pass rush, but that's become the norm for this team. If Kiffin wants his players to get to the QB, he has to bring another player.

And, going against smart play-calling, that opens up holes for opposing offenses to exploit, which is exactly what the Sun Devils did Saturday and what the Wildcats themselves did a year ago, when Foles tore up the Trojan defense for 353 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on 32-of-48 passing.

Juron Criner is the best receiver USC has faced this season and one of the best the Trojans will face all year long. He also is essentially a mismatch in a box, eight inches taller than USC's No. 1 corner Nickell Robey.

But forget all of that. Foles will complete his passes and Criner will get his catches.

What needs to happen for USC to beat Arizona is simple: the Trojans' front four must produce, must generate pressure, must get Foles on his heels on a regular basis.

If they can do that, USC should win.

Barkley named to Manning Award list

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
5:56
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Quarterback Matt Barkley picked up his fourth watch-list honor of the preseason Monday when he was named to the Manning Award watch list, a trophy given out to the top signal-caller in the country after bowl games conclude in January.

Barkley, a junior, was also named to the Davey O'Brien, Walter Camp and Maxwell award lists last month. He's one of eight Trojans who have received at least one watch-list honor this preseason.

As a sophomore in 2010, Barkley threw for nearly 2,800 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, starting all but one of USC's 13 games. As a first-year freshman in 2009, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and 2,735 yards.

He stands as a potential top-ten overall pick in next April's NFL draft, assuming he decides to leave school after his junior season and apply for early-entry into the draft. But doing so would prevent him from playing in another bowl game or conference championship during his college career, as the Trojans are ineligible for postseason play this year due to NCAA sanctions.

Other Pac-12 conference nominees for the Manning Award include Oregon's Darron Thomas, Arizona's Nick Foles, Stanford's Andrew Luck and Utah's Jordan Wynn.

Auburn's Cam Newton won the honor in 2010 before departing for the NFL.

Postgame extras: Matt Barkley, Shareece Wright revisit Arizona

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
2:22
PM PT
Video interviews with USC quarterback Matt Barkley and cornerback Shareece Wright, plus several quotes that stood out from after USC's 24-21 win over Arizona on Saturday at Arizona Stadium:

USC safety T.J. McDonald, on the Trojans' hopes for the remaining three games of their season: "We still have a chance to have a 10-win season -- which, you know what, not a lot of teams in the country can have a 10-win season, so we still have a chance to get that. We're thinking positive and we got some momentum now."

Arizona linebacker Paul Vassallo, on why the the Wildcats lost: "It's not that they are better than us, but we are making mistakes and beating ourselves."

Arizona receiver David Douglas, who had the crucial fumble in the third quarter that Monte Kiffin later called the play of the game, on the loss: "Close ones are always tough. USC is a great team. The defense has bailed us out a lot of times. They were out there righting hard. Nick (Foles) made some big plays, (Shaquille) Richardson, (Travis) Cobb, they all stepped up."

USC assistant head coach Monte Kiffin, on whether the Trojans were prepared for the quickness of Arizona's offense: "We kinda heard that a little bit. They weren't as fast as Oregon, but they were a pretty fast tempo. That's hard, but we did a good job -- we never got caught with 12 guys on the field or anything like that. Our players did a good job."

USC linebacker Michael Morgan, on whether or not USC was really an underdog in his eyes heading into the game: "No. I've never felt like an underdog in my whole career. Even if we're down I always feel like we can win. We're SC. We play ball."

USC backup quarterback Mitch Mustain, on the Trojans' successful fourth-and-three conversion in the first half, where Mustain found tight end Jordan Cameron for a seven-yard reception down to the Arizona four-yard line: "I'm glad we did it. We had been working on it and it's something that we hadn't done before, so it was kind of exciting. All of us in the huddle were pretty excited about it, and it worked exactly how we planned. The only thing I could ask more is that we score on it. I kinda got excited for a minute after he caught because I thought he might."

USC left tackle Matt Kalil, on the officials' ruling on the would-be blocked PAT returned for two points near the end of the game that was called back because of an offsides penalty: Yeah, I blocked the [PAT], and I guess Shareece was in the neutral zone and the ref said he wouldn't have called it if I hadn't blocked it. I guess because he scooped and scored and ran all the way for a touchdown. Kinda sucks, it's what I've been waiting to do all season. And I finally blocked one, and of course it's a flag."

Arizona Coach Mike Stoops, on his team's game: "I think we played hard and lost to a very good team. USC protected the ball well, threw the ball well. Out kicking game hasn't been very good these past couple weeks, and we really need to work on that. Overall, it just wasn't a good night for us."

***

Despite a subpar second half, Barkley was very positive after the game about his team's performance.

See what he had to say well after the game ended as he finally emerged from the locker room, with thoughts on Marc Tyler's 160-yard day on the ground, USC's temporary proclivity to throw the ball short and more:



***

Wright provided some interesting perspective about USC's defensive gameplan Saturday, with insight on the success of Arizona receivers Juron Criner and Terrence Mitchell, the big plays produced by the Trojans and more.

See all of what he had to say on the Arizona Stadium field right after the game:

SPONSORED HEADLINES

2013 TEAM LEADERS

PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler361236296820
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen1357855.814
T. Madden1387035.13
RECEIVINGRECYDSAVGTD
M. Lee5779113.94
N. Agholor5691816.46
TEAMRUSHPASSTOTAL
Offense174.2218.1392.3
TEAMPFPAMARGIN
Scoring28.521.37.2