So, lets lead with the news that was announced last night...Matt Barkley is starting on Saturday against Washington St.
After Aaron Corp's performance in Seattle I think it is safe to say that this was the direction that USC wanted to go in the first place. So, the coaches get their wish and we move on. Barkley is not 100%, but I really don't see a problem with that because contrary what we saw last Saturday and what we subsequently read later, Aaron Corp wasn't 100% either so with all things being equal it would make sense that Barkley will give us the best shot to win on this weekend.
This is the perfect game for SC to take out their frustration and get back to their winning ways. Wazzu is better than last year but they still have a long way to go. Of course USC can't treat any team like it is a gimme win at this point.
Here is Pete Carroll's reasoning in regards to naming Barkley the starter...
"We are going to go with Matt in the game. He’s ready to go. It’s clear that he had a very good day today, feels good about it, and off and running we go. I am happy to get him back out there.
"Aaron (Corp) is ready to go too. He has had a good week of work. Putting together tomorrow, Matt will get a bunch of it (the game plan) tomorrow. … I am glad to see Matt get back out."
(on whether Barkley still has stiffness in his shoulder)
"He’s all right. He’s OK. He’s ready to go."
(on Barkley’s throwing motion)
"I think it’s controlled. It’s controlled still, and we are trying to make sure that he makes it through the practice (week). But he is able to throw all the throws that we are doing in the game plan, so he’s OK."
(on whether there was a moment that tilted the decision)
"Just the way he responded today. He came back out and could throw and felt all right about it. He could get the majority of the work — that really made the difference. We are OK with the decision, and if he has any problems, Aaron is ready to go, which is great, and Mitch (Mustain) should be ready too."
(on making the decision early in the week)
"I feel fine about it. I don’t have a plan on this one. We will just go with the information and the facts that we get. We don’t have a set scenario of how we want to do it. We want to wait and see what the information tells us. I think it feels right, and he’s excited to get back out there and have his mind in it. I think it will help him the next couple of days."
Of course, there will be some second guessing as to why Carroll made an overt decision to name a starter early in the week in comparison to last weeks "non-decision".
I still stand by the premise that Pete knew all along that were issues with Corp and that he really did want Barkley in the line up. Saturday's performance simply confirmed his feelings and we are where are today. I still think the most telling issue on Saturday was Bates having to go through his play calling sheet just to see what Corp was comfortable with. Corp's on the field performance aside...if Corp could not run the plays after all the prep work in the week before, not to mention all his time with Bates since Bates arrived, that is a far bigger indictment of Corp's ability than what we saw on the field.
Barkley is going to make some mistakes and SC may lose another game or two with him under center but he is the future and I am more than willing to deal with some losses now in preparation for the next couple of seasons.
- - -
Bates will open the playbook
All of us armchair QB's were screaming at our TV's on Saturday because we knew the one way to counter Washington stacking the box was to either run some play action or simply chuck it down field. With RoJo out for another 3-4 weeks SC doesn't have a speed burner receiver. Damian Williams is a play-maker and possession but he has never been seen a speedster. He can get some separation but not on every play.
As long as SC remains one dimensional EVERY team we play is going to follow UW's game plan. Bates needs to mix it up and keep opposing defenses guessing.
Although he says he doesn’t pay attention to public criticism, first-year USC play-caller Jeremy Bates is giving fans and pundits what they want — a more aggressive offense.
"We’ve got to open it up," Bates said.
"We’ve got to get into more three-wides and four-wides and do some seven-step drops and all that good stuff that USC’s done in the past. And spread it around a little bit. We’ve got some playmakers, and we’ve got to get the ball in their hands. That’s on me."
USC has scored only three touchdown the past two weeks and ranks 112th in the nation in third-down conversion percentage.
That last sentence really hits home. SC has always been pretty efficient on 3rd down and if they want to play USC football then Bates is going to have to open things up. Let Barkley take things out for a spin and see how this sucker runs when he is behind the wheel. It funny because just about everyone I have talked to in passing or in depth on SC has seemingly forgotten about the SJSU game. It is like Barkley's first start was against Ohio St.
I don't think you use that SJSU performance as any sort of a gauge...most people have just thrown it out.
This will be a truer test to see if Barkley can lead this team after last weekends debacle.
- - -
Quick Hits from various places
Taylor Mays is listed a possible for Saturdays game. That really isn't a big deal to me. I understand we really missed him last week but Wazzu does not have a Jake Locker under center. We need Mays healthy for Cal and beyond...
Harfman will probably punt this weekend but Mustain sees more time at Punter and that could be intriguing. It would be a nice wrinkle if we could do some trickeration...
Is there a double standard? I never got a chance to address this from earlier in the week...
Gable can’t help wondering what it is going to take to get him back in the starting line-up.
Or on the field at all.
A year ago Gable started the Trojans’ first 12 games, rushing for 644 yards and eight TDs. So far this season he just seven carries for 40 yards.
Gable on Monday disputed the assertion by USC coaches that he was not able to play in Saturday’s loss at Washington because he was battling the flu.
"I could have went," Gable said. "I know I could have went. If they had let me play I would have done what I have to do. They said it looked like I wasn’t ready. So I guess how I look determines whether I play or not I guess. But not to me. If I say I’m ready to go, I’m ready to go. I know when my body is not ready to go. I said I’m ready to go. I said I’m ready to go and they said no.
So that’s it."
Gable said he was frustrated that the fumbles by McKnight and other Trojan running backs do not seem to impact their playing time. USC running backs fumbled four times against Washington.
Of course there is...welcome to college football.
It is pointless to try and dissect this and there are more important things to worry about this weekend but this could also have some repercussions down the line...
Here is may take on this weeks game against Wazzu and last weeks game against UW on the CougCenter Podcast (I apologize for being long winded).