It is not surprising to see that Matt Barkley has received many accolades for his poise and composure in his handling of the pressure of USC's winning drive against Ohio State.
As I have written earlier we all watched Barkley "grow up" on that drive. Barkley played just about how we thought a true freshman would play. He really had one mistake in an interception that really didn't hurt SC. But he handled himself perfectly...he did not let the pressure get to him.
But he could not have done it alone, yes he had the offensive line dig in and provide the needed protection but it was Joe McKnight who was on the receiving end of many of Barkley's play calls. USC has waited and waited to see exactly what we saw from McKnight on Saturday night. We have seen flashes of it like in the Rose Bowl against Illinois. McKnight come into training camp with a different attitude and a better understanding of the playbook. Being a new father probably had a lot to do with it as well.
Many are now taking notice on McKnight's performance...
All of that lifted Saturday night as McKnight led the Trojans to an 18-15 comeback victory against Ohio State with five carries and two catches on the game-winning drive. With the win, No. 3 USC gained ground on No. 2 Texas in the USA TODAY Coaches' Poll. Ohio State dropped four spots to No. 11.
"This was a real step for him," running backs coach Todd McNair said. "This is the first time I can remember in his career where we needed him. We score and go home, and he strapped us on his back and came through for us. … That was one of the things No. 5 could do."
No. 5 meaning Bush, the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner. When Saturday evening turned into Sunday morning, McKnight was one of the last players to leave the locker room. As No. 4 hoisted his gym bag on his shoulder, everything felt lighter. When did the weight of expectations ease? "Today," he said. "They lifted off of me today. Finally, I can live my life as Joe McKnight."
McNair is right, McKnight did carry the team on his back on that final drive.
This is the McKnight we have been waiting to see for two years...hopefully we continue to see more of this type of play.
Others have written the same in other pieces linked below (I have linked to some these already).