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Stewart Mandel looks at Matt Barkley

Stewart Mandel has a decent read on USC QB Matt Barkley...

Entering fall camp, Barkley was the clear No. 2 behind Corp. But even before the third-year sophomore injured his leg, opening the door for Barkley, the freshman's summer film study had enabled him to close the gap. Teammates soon noticed his mature demeanor.

"He's never really been scared or intimidated," said Trojans safety Taylor Mays. "He just kind of gets the ball and does his thing. Coach Carroll has confidence in him, so why shouldn't we?"

This isn't the first time Barkley has displayed accelerated development. In 2005, he became the first freshman to start at quarterback for Mater Dei since Todd Marinovich in 1983. (His predecessors included Leinart and Colt Brennan.) In '07, he became the first junior to win Gatorade's National Player of the Year award.

To become the Trojans' starter, Barkley had to master an NFL-style offense that even Leinart struggled with his first two years as a Trojan.

There is no question that Barkley is a special, special player. He has accomplished things that that other QB's take a couple of years to accomplishments.

I am not ready to crown him king of all world but you can see that he does have some special qualities.

Saturday is going to tell us a lot...