I touched on this earlier this week.
With Barkley going into his final season at USC, Lane Kiffin needs to start thinking about the future.
USC faces some interesting times in 2013. It will be year two of the scholarship reductions and the first season that a new QB will be at the helm. Who that QB will be is yet to be determined, but now is the time to find out.
Barkley isn't taking as many reps as he has in previous spring practices. Kiffin has said that's because he wants to give aspiring backups Cody Kessler and Max Wittek a chance to learn and compete, which is reasonable. But Kiffin, wisely, is also being cautious. No need for Barkley to get banged up now, with the prospect of a monster season and national championship beckoning a few months down the road.
So Barkley has been watching a lot, helping Kessler and Wittek at every opportunity and biding his time.
His arm, he said, "feels better than it has been in the past," and he's making the most of his new job as an unofficial quarterbacks coach.
Who better to mentor than the guy who has been running it for the past three years.
This really isn't a big deal but when you couple the past (Barkley being a four year starter) with the present/future (new QB with reduced schollies) it makes for an interesting story line.
Of course, no move is ever without controversy...Barkley's interception ratio is up this spring...
Kiffin is willing to be patient too. He attributed Barkley's mistakes to the impact injuries have had on the Trojans this spring, including wide receiver Robert Woods' slower-than-expected recovery from ankle surgery. Players have been all over. So have some of Barkley's throws.
"He wants to go to that next level with guys . So the guys that are there, he's doing it with and he's getting more comfortable with and hopefully we'll get the rest of these guys back for him," Kiffin said.
"You're not as frustrated as you normally would be with a guy forcing it downfield because you feel also some of his pain because his weapons aren't out here."
Woods being out because of his ankle and Lee making a name on the track team has a lot to do with it. The other receivers aren't at that level yet.
I am not really concerned. I certainly don't see it as a case of Matt Barkley being bored as a certain USC insinuated in a piece earlier this week.
Barkley has broken the string of seeing a new QB every two years. He has owned the job since his freshman year and we he hasn't relinquished it except for two games in which USC lost.
Kessler, Wittek and Scroggins are lucky to have a guy like Barkley backing them up this spring.