It seems like a hundred years ago that Matt Barkley led USC down the field at The Horseshoe to beat Ohio State on USC's Final Drive.
It seems even longer to remember when Matt Barkley committed to USC.
Yet, as Barkley enters his junior season the questions now shift to if this will be his last season at USC and the inevitable questions about his winning the Heisman Trophy.
Both of those questions are unknown.
And for the most part both are irrelevant, for now.
We can only live in the here and now...so the question on a number of peoples mind is will Barkley take it to the next level this season? Will Matt Barkley progress past making the same mistakes?
Barkley always seems to hit a wall sometime after the halfway point of the season.
In his freshman season you could say it was information overload. Pete Carroll put a lot on Barkley's shoulders. For the most part he responded well. Jeremy Bates didn't help the situation but that isn't important now.
In his second season you could see marked improvement, but again as the season wore on you could see the progress slow.
Again, Barkley was asked to do a lot with trying to keep up with USC defense that couldn't stop air as it struggled to adjust to Monte Kiffin's schemes.
Lane Kiffin kept the reins on Barkley in some instances while he tried to deprogram Barkley form the Jeremy Bates mess.
Kiffin obviously saw what some of Barkley's flaws are. His decision making isn't always stout. He sometimes sails the ball out of control and he stills throws the bonehead interception.
For a sophomore it really shouldn't be that big a deal...but this is USC. We expect a lot out our QB's. Especially when two the four that preceded Barkley won the Heisman Trophy and all four went to the NFL...regardless of the previous four's level of success, being the starting QB at USC automatically garners attention.
Like it or not...Those are the expectations...
To some extent, again, he's been a victim of the gleaming records that came before him. Barkley has 17 wins as a starter, more than any outgoing or returning Pac-12 quarterback except Stanford's Andrew Luck, but has also been a part of as many losses (7) as predecessors Matt Leinart, John David Booty and Mark Sanchez suffered from 2003-08 combined. As a freshman, he orchestrated a dramatic, game-winning touchdown drive at Ohio State in his second game, but also presided over two of the worst beatings in school history against Oregon and Stanford. As a sophomore, he finished third in the Pac-10 in passing yards, touchdowns and efficiency, but averaged fewer yards per game than any USC quarterback in a decade, with fewer TDs and a lower passer rating than any Trojan QB in that span except Booty in 2007.
Barkley has plenty of weapons at the wide receiver spot. But unlike last season he doesn't necessarily have the ground attack to balance the offense.
And even when he did have that balance he wasn't always stellar...
It would be easier to be optimistic about Barkley's progress if it hadn't seemed to come unraveled as the season progressed. USC dropped five of eight games, with two of the three wins in that span coming by one point (34-33 over Arizona State) and three points (24-21 over Arizona), respectively. Even with a relatively consistent ground game keeping defenses honest, the occasional Favre-like tendency to strong-arm balls into coverage resulted in another season of double-digit picks, contributing to the diminishing returns by the entire offense. He served up two interceptions against Oregon on the biggest stage of the season on Oct. 30; before he was knocked out of the Nov. 20 loss at Oregon State with an injured ankle, Barkley had already thrown a pick-six and was battling through the worst two quarters of his career in an eventual 36-7 rout.
That was an ugly stretch...
I honesty don't know what to expect this season.There are more than just a few questions...
Matt Barkley has the talent, he has the aptitude and for the most part he has the weapons.
The question is a simple one...does he have it between the ears?
I am hopeful, but we won't know for another month or so.