It is finally here!
From Ian Evenstar's photostream
No more talk, no more speculation...we will finally get some answers today!
USC coach Pete Carroll warned his veteran players to keep an eye on the freshmen today, even if the No.4-ranked Trojans are facing lightly regarded San Jose State at the Coliseum.
"I said it's like taking your little brother to the circus," Carroll said. "We don't want them wide-eyed."
The biggest little brother will be 18-year-old Matt Barkley, who becomes the first true freshman quarterback to start the season-opener for a preseason top-five team since Rick Leach did it for No. 3 Michigan in 1975.
"What we have to do first is get him calmed down and keep him in the frame of mind to do what we are capable of," Carroll said. "He's been in the Coliseum a number of times and seen a lot from our defense already. I hope he's calm and trusts our preparation."
We won't really know how Barkley does until this game is in the books. You won't be able to judge him on one play or one series but on the complete body of work. There will be some mistakes so lets get that out of the way right now. It will be on the defense to bail us out if there is a turnover and it will be on the offensive line to help Barkley settle in and focus on the task at hand.
The theme of the day as I look around the web it pretty much similar to what I linked above. There is this from the Press-Enterprise...
The Plan was that quarterback Mark Sanchez would come back for his senior year, lead USC on another national championship crusade, then turn the offensive reins over to the golden boy waiting in the wings, Matt Barkley.
As it turned out, there would be no waiting. No holding back the kid from Santa Ana Mater Dei, who never waited before and wouldn't have to wait this time, either, somehow maneuvering his way onto the Coliseum field today, starting the Trojans' season opener against San Jose State.
Last January, Sanchez surprised the world, upset Coach Pete Carroll, and turned to the NFL. It also turned on the competitive spirit in Barkley.
"I had no clue he would declare," Barkley said. "But it stirred some excitement, knowing there would be a chance for me."
No matter that he was just entering USC, and no freshman had started at quarterback for Carroll. He was used to being a step up on everyone else. At youth football camps, they had put the strong-armed prodigy in with older age groups. He started as a 14-year-old freshman for the perennial powerhouse Monarchs. He was the first junior to win the biggest prep prize: the Gatorade National Player of the Year Award.
Talented, smart and personally grounded, he still impresses those around him with his maturity.
His maturity and mettle will be tested today if for no other reason that this will be his first game at a totally different level.
That seems to be other theme playing out...
Dick Tomey is defensive guru who is well known for the Arizona Desert Swarm defense of the 90's. I have stated in the past that Tomey is going to throw the kitchen sink at Barkley. He will pull every trick in the book to rattle him into making a mistake. There is no question that Tomey has some solid talent on his defense but the bigger question is how much of an effect will they have against this USC Offensive Line to pressure Barkley and how will they be able to keep up with the multiple threats of The Stable and the receivers...even without RoJo.
Ben has some numbers...
San Jose State will be toting a historically strong defense when it buses down the 5 for Saturday's season opener at the Coliseum.
The Spartans had the nation's No. 21 defense in 2008, allowing just 312 total yards per game. Coincidentally, they also were ranked 21st nationally on turnover margin with a plus-8 tally in '08. San Jose State also finished 7th in 2007 and 13th in 2006 in the nationwide turnover margin stat category, one of only five schools to be in the Top 25 for turnover margin in each of the last three years.
But lets not get carried away...as good as this defense is what that impression is being based on is against some average teams. And in their 6 or 7 "toughest" games they went 1-6...
Boise State - LOSS (33 points)
@ Nebraska - LOSS (35 points)
Louisiana Tech - LOSS (21 points)
@Nevada - LOSS (41 points)
Fresno State - LOSS (24 points)
@Hawaii - WIN (17 points)
@ Stanford - LOSS (23 points)
Outside of Boise St. who dinged SJSU for 33 points there are a lot of average offenses that scored a fair amount of points on that list. And the WAC isn't exactly the SEC so those numbers are probably a bit inflated.
Anyway...Like I said Tomey will try to rattle Barkley it will be interesting so see how Barkley reacts.
Look for a lot of running plays to get Barkley settled in...
With an inexperienced quarterback at the helm, Trojans tailbacks are quietly celebrating in anticipation of an approach that produces more carries.
Joe McKnight ends C.J. Gable's streak of starting three straight openers, but USC fans can also expect to see Allen Bradford actually carrying the ball. The junior from Colton has been running with power and purpose from the first day of training camp.
Senior Stafon Johnson? Still the Trojans' most dependable and productive back.
Can you say Allen Bradford?
If USC establishes the run it could be a long day for SJSU because they will have to stack the box and that will leave the receivers free to do their thing. SJSU is a better against the pass but their depth won't be able to stay up when they are getting beat down the field by our O line.
As for the defense the one player I want to see perform is Chris Galippo...
USC middle linebacker Chris Galippo is in his third season with the Trojans, but it seems as if it's been longer.
The former Anaheim Servite High star endured two back surgeries, a bout with mononucleosis and caddying for Rey Maualuga while waiting for his chance to start.
That opportunity finally comes today when the Trojans play their opener against San Jose State at the Coliseum.
"It's the first time in a long time that I've had the responsibility of either making plays or possibly losing a game on my shoulders," Galippo said this week. "That's the way it's been my whole life."
Galippo, a third-year sophomore, did not attend Thursday's practice after having fluid removed from a swollen right elbow. But he attended team meetings and the Trojans' walk-through on Friday and will play and call defensive signals against the Spartans.
Its time for Galippo to make his presence known. It is time for him to step up and show us all that we know he can do.
SJSU has some issues on offense. Tomey has not yet named a starting QB and as I noted in the record above they had some problem scoring some points. Because so many on the USC defense have game experience I think the defense will be fine.
I really can't predict a score. I know the defense will do their part but Barkley's performance is going to be the key...obviously.
It is GO TIME!!