USC coach: Matt Barkley beat up

Updated: September 18, 2012, 12:19 PM ET
By Pedro Moura | ESPNLosAngeles.com

LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin was puzzled by two "really poor decisions" made by Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley in the second quarter of USC's 21-14 road loss to Stanford on Saturday.

And Kiffin went as far to call them some of the worst decisions he's ever seen Barkley make.

On a third down with less than two minutes to play in the first half of Saturday's game, Barkley threw into traffic and was intercepted by the Cardinal's Jordan Richards.

Then, after USC linebacker Dion Bailey picked off the ensuing throw from Stanford's Josh Nunes, Barkley forced a throw downfield and had his second straight pass intercepted.

"(That was) really unusual by Matt," Kiffin said in his Sunday evening conference call with reporters. "Probably two of his worst decisions in our three years together on back-to-back plays."

At the time, USC led 14-7. The Trojans didn't score again the rest of the game.

Kiffin noted that Barkley had thrown just one interception in nine quarters of football until that point. He also said Barkley took a lot of shots from Stanford defenders throughout the game and indicated he was the victim of poor offensive line play.

"He's pretty beat up, mentally and physically," Kiffin said of Barkley, who appeared on the verge of tears in a brief postgame press conference following the loss.

A senior, four-year starter and preseason Heisman favorite, Barkley will now end his college career without beating Stanford -- unless the teams match up again in the Pac-12 championship game in November and USC wins.

Kiffin said his quarterback was broken up over that fact.

"You can imagine the disappointment of a 22-year-old, when you come back and all that you put into it and the game goes the way that it did and having never beat those guys," Kiffin said. "(But) he'll be fine. He'll rally, just like he has before.

"And he'll play great this Saturday."

Barkley finished the loss to Stanford with 254 yards on 20-of-41 passing, with those two interceptions and no touchdowns. It was the first time since October 2010 Barkley played a whole game and failed to throw for a touchdown.

No. 13 USC, which dropped from No. 2 following the loss, hosts Cal on Saturday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

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