Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley followed up his stellar performance on Thursday with another strong showing during the Trojans' 87-play scrimmage Saturday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
After eight practices this spring, Barkley is still firmly in the mix to become the next starting quarterback, and has clearly been the most impressive signal-caller the last two practices.
"You can't deny the fact that Barkley hung in there really well today," Pete Carroll said. "He did a nice job."
After Saturday's three-touchdown performance at the Coliseum, Carroll admitted that he has been surprised by the play and maturity of the strong-armed freshman.
"I'm really surprised that he is able to handle the stuff as well as he is handling it," Carroll said. "You can see that he has the ability to make plays. That's a big positive for him.
"We haven't seen a freshman able to do this in all of the years."
After a slow start for the offense, Barkley led the Trojans on a 72-yard scoring drive that was capped off with a 15-yard touchdown pass to fullback Stanley Havili.
Barkley connected with Havili on a critical fourth down play to keep the drive alive prior to the touchdown.
On the last drive before the half, Barkley hit Travon Patterson in stride over the middle and the speedy receiver did the rest, racing past the defense on his way to a 60-yard score.
Wide receiver Damian Williams also pulled in an 8-yard touchdown reception on strike from Barkley near the end of the day.
The freshman quarterback did have some mishaps on the day as well, throwing an interception and fumbling the ball while making a pump fake.
The interception came on a play when Barkley rolled away from pressure to his right, and forced the ball late over the middle.
"It was a throw that I shouldn't have made,' he said. "Nothing good happens when you throw across the field like that."
For Barkley, who is an early enrollee, Saturday's scrimmage was his first opportunity to lead the offense in the Coliseum and the young quarterback showed no signs of being overwhelmed by the moment.
"He just continues to be comfortable in the situation where most guys have never been able to be this comfortable this early," Carroll said. "It's giving him a chance to compete for this job."
Barkley added: "There are corrections to be made of course, but I am confident in how I am playing right now."
As for the veterans of the group, Aaron Corp continued to play mistake free football, completing 8-of-15 pass attempts for 146 yards and touchdown.
Corp's 61-yard touchdown pass to Ronald Johnson was the longest play of the day.
Mitch Mustain connected on 7-of-10 pass attempts for 42 yards and an interception.
News and Notes
- Safety Will Harris will miss the rest of spring practice because of academic reasons Pete Carroll announced after the scrimmage.
- Tailbacks C.J. Gable and Marc Tyler both left the scrimmage early because of hip injuries. Gable's injury was described as a strained hip. Offensive lineman Butch Lewis pulled his groin and Charles Brown was also sidelined.
- Tailback Joe McKnight didn't participate in the scrimmage.
"Just holding him back until next week," Carroll said. "Then we are going to let him do a lot of work next week."
- The young defensive line continues to improve under new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin. On Saturday, the defensive line was responsible for 5 of the 7 quarterback sacks. Malik Jackson and Wes Horton both recorded two sacks and Everson Griffen added another.
- Tailback Curtis McNeal was once again the star of the ground attack. The elusive redshirt freshman rushed for a team-high 101 yards on 13 carries.
"I thought Moody (Curtis McNeal) really jumped out today," Carroll said. "He ran the ball beautifully. He ran tough, made guys miss him and showed good speed on the edge."
- T.J. Bryant and Malik Jackson stood out on the defensive side of the ball. Bryant had a team-high six tackles, a quarterback sack and a pass deflection. He looked very good in coverage today and was always around the ball.
Jackson had four tackles, two sacks and pass deflection.
- Punter Billy O'Malley had his best performance of the spring on Saturday.
"I thought he did a nice job," Carroll said. "He had a lot of elevation and captured some good hang time. I thought he came through for his first big test."
- Defensive back Marshall Jones got reps with the first team defense and had an impressive showing.
- Overall, Carroll was very pleased with the performance of his team during the 87-play scrimmage.
"There was a lot of playmaking today," Carroll said. "There was some big plays on defense and there was big plays on offense. I like the playmaking part of it."
Faces in the Crowd
Dietrich Riley, Lucky Radley, Malcolm Jones, Lamont Jones, Alex Holmes, Anthony Davis, Tim Floyd, Mark Sanchez, Troy Polamalu, John Martinez and Byron Moore all were in attendance for Saturday's scrimmage at the Coliseum.
Matt Barkley 10-13, 195 yds, 3 TD 1 INT
Aaron Corp 8-15, 146 yds, 1 TD
Mitch Mustain 7-10, 42 yds, 1 INT
Curtis McNeal 13 carries, 101 yds
Marc Tyler 5 carries, 8 yds
Stafon Johnson 7 carries, 5 yds
C.J. Gable 2 carries, -6 yds
Damian Williams 4 catches, 43 yds, TD
D.J. Shoemate 4 catches, 9 yds
Stanley Havili 3 catches, 51 yds, TD
Brice Butler 3 catches, 45 yds
Ronald Johnson 2 catches, 76 yds, TD
Travon Patterson 1 catch, 60 yds, TD
T.J. Bryant 6 tackles, sack, pass deflection
Jurrell Casey 5 tackles
Nick Perry 5 tackles
Malik Jackson 4 tackles, 2 sacks, pass deflection
Mike Morgan 4 tackles, TFL
Uona Kaveinga 4 tackles, TFL, INT
Jordan Campbell 3 tackles, fumble recovery
Wes Horton 2 tackles, 2 sacks
Marshall Jones 2 tackles, INT
- Stanley Havili 15-yard TD reception from Matt Barkley
- Joe Houston 29-yard FG
- Brandon Carswell 14-yard run
- Travon Patterson 60-yard touchdown reception from Matt Barkley
- Damian Williams 8-yard touchdown reception from Matt Barkley
- Ronald Johnson 61-yard touchdown reception from Aaron Corp
Matt Barkley continued his strong play with 3 TD's on Saturday. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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