Just another day for Barkley
USC's Heisman candidate continues to make the extraordinary seem mundane
LOS ANGELES -- As far as Heisman campaigns go, Matt Barkley's got off to a good start, as his first pass of the 2012 season went for a 75-yard touchdown to Marqise Lee.
A few series later, a Hawaii punt had pinned the Trojans on their own 1-yard line, so Barkley promptly engineered an eight-play, 99-yard drive ending in a 20-yard touchdown throw to Robert Woods.
It wasn't like the entire USC offense was clicking early in the game -- the Trojans ran for only 45 yards in the first half and 31 of those came on one run from Silas Redd, an impressive weaving touchdown run that showed the skills of the recent Penn State transfer.
The Trojans had a few dropped passes and they ended up punting three times in the first half, something that was certainly surprising to the USC faithful who had gathered in the Coliseum to watch the team with a bevy of offensive superstars.
USC had the benefit of an interception returned for a touchdown by Hayes Pullard and a solid overall effort from a defense that pitched a shutout in the opening half.
Once the large lead was in hand, it was a matter of Barkley keeping things on pace and not letting the Warriors get back in the ballgame. After tossing his final touchdown pass of the game to tight end Randall Telfer in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring, the Trojans were up 49-10.
"This game was bittersweet," Barkley said. "We left a lot of points on the table. It's nothing personal against Hawaii but it felt like we could have scored 100 points in the first half. Coming into the first game, you never know what to expect."
It wasn't an overly special night for Barkley -- he wasn't even the brightest USC star as Lee went wild with 10 catches for just under 200 yards along with a 100-yard kickoff return for a score -- but it was a performance which should certainly showcase just how important the fourth-year starting quarterback has become to this team.
It says something when Barkley hits on 22 of 38 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns and it's considered just another game. It was the third straight game that Barkley has thrown for four touchdowns dating back to last season and the ninth consecutive time that he has led his team to more than 30 points in a game. Barkley has become so consistent, such a big-time player, that numbers like those don't even raise an eyebrow anymore.
"Matt did really well," USC head coach Lane Kiffin said. "He was a couple drops away from some big-time numbers. He handled the hype really well."
In the end Barkley did what he was supposed to and led his team to a victory. One play which showcased his leadership skills came when he got in the face of Lee as he returned to the huddle after an incomplete pass. This is clearly Barkley's team and he isn't afraid to take control this year.
Now the Trojans move ahead to game two on the schedule and a meeting with Syracuse. What's equally as important as the opponent is the location, as this game will take place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, right next door to the Big Apple.
The spotlight will be bright for the Trojans and their quarterback and maybe, just maybe, there might be some talk about a December return to the city for a certain award that is handed out in December. From what we saw on Saturday at the Coliseum, Barkley seems well prepared to answer that talk in the best way possible -- on the field.