Quoting Carroll: Quarterback Decision

Pete Carroll

Matt Barkley will make history when he takes his first snap on Sept.5th against San Jose State. Barkley will be the first freshman quarterback to ever start the season opener for the Trojans. Look inside to see what USC head coach Pete Carroll had to say about the big decision.

Carroll's opening statement on the quarterback decision:

Just putting it all together, this is really what happened. For me, what I'm doing is I'm trying to orchestrate our performance and our ability to get ready to go into the season. The time had come, with the information we had, I thought we could take advantage of making the decision now and get this thing working into the weekend where it could enhance Matt's chance to get prepared knowing what's going on. And I think it would help the team as well. The opportunity to deal with the media and the announcement and get that done this week, it seemed like the right time.

Matt's been remarkable. He's just had a great introduction to Trojan football from the springtime all the way through everything we've done here. He's just done an exemplary job in every phase of everything. I can't explain how a guy this young and this new could do that, but he's done it. And it's been clear, and we have enough information.

The opportunity that was presented to him when Aaron went down gave him an opportunity to see tons and tons of plays. He saw maybe twice as many plays as he would have seen otherwise. He got all of the work he could get against the ones, then he worked against the twos as well. So he has that experience behind him to show us whether he could hang with the speed of a pretty good defense and good, quality personnel on the other side. He handled all of it. I couldn't be more proud of this guy and what he's done to this point to position himself where he could take over right now. I'm fired about it. I'm fired up for him. I'm fired up for our football team to see this happen.

Of course he's got a lot of stuff to learn and all of that, as any new quarterback would have at any time in a new system; whether you're young or old, it takes you a while. He's got to get through that. But he couldn't do more than he's done at this time. Physically he's right and ready. He's got a great arm. His mentality is right. His competitiveness is on the mark. His leadership ability with older guys in the huddle has been outstanding and remarkable. All of that just added up; this is the right time.

Aaron's situation, he's just done an unbelievable job of coming back. How many guys would be out here running around playing football a few weeks after breaking their leg? It's incredible that he's done it. When I thought about Aaron and the process of bringing him back, the more time we can give him the better. He needs more time to get back, to become the same athlete that we know him to be.

Could he play right now? Yeah, he could go out there and play. He's shown that in practice. But even on Saturday when we go, we're not going to hit him. We're going to scrimmage, but we're not going to hit him. Hopefully he'll make it through there without any incidents and get him a whole 'nother week. That may make a difference; I don't know. He threw the ball really well. He was able to run the offense. We're playing San Jose eight days from now; he's going to be ready to play. I think he'll be better a couple weeks from now.

I think it's the right thing to do for him. I love the way he's competed. He's proven the illustration about healing yourself. He overcame this thing and got back out here. Never had an inkling that he wouldn't fight his way back through it with the way he handled it. Courage and toughness and all that was evident.

He's discouraged. He wants this job in the worst way, exactly like he should. It means the world to him. It's disappointing to have to tell him that, but it's the right thing for us at this time.

So that's where we are. Matt's the starting quarterback at USC. And he's earned that, and he's done a fantastic job of proving that. So we're going into this weekend with that thought, and going into the ballgame, he's starting against San Jose State. And away we go. We'll see how it fits together as we move down the road. I think this is an exciting time for us.

Carroll on when he knew Barkley wasn't like other freshman QB's:

"It happened in the springtime. It was after practice five in the springtime, I just couldn't believe he had come so far so quickly. I remember walking off the field talking to one of the coaches: He's five days old, and look what he just did. We were just kind of shaking our heads. And he hasn't stopped. He's been very, very comfortable.

"It's not just calling plays, it's not just throwing, it's not just communicating with the coaches. It's being able to relate with your teammate as well and have them have a feel for you. I think that's taken place already. I think our guys are going to fight like crazy to protect him and give him a chance to do well and support him knowing that he's the trigger guy. They've got to do that to help him be successful."

Carroll on Aaron Corp not being 100% healthy:

"That definitely factored into Aaron's chance to really be at his best right now. He's not fully back yet. I'm just hoping he's safe and secure right now. He's not at his best yet, and it's going to be awhile. He would tell he's OK; that's what he's thinking and how he's acting about it. But I can see that he's not.

"I thought about it too from the perspective of, if you were his dad, what would you do? How would you look at it? As much as I love him and I'd love the chance for him to play, I think this is the right thing to do for him, to protect him longer. See if we can keep him out of the fray and allow him more time so that his confidence is right and his physical ability is at a peak so he can do the things he's capable of doing.

"However, he's OK to play. He's been OK'd to play. So if called on, he's going to be ready to go forward and do the best he can. Just like we would expect him to."

Carroll on having a freshman lead the offense in '09:

"He's not a typical freshman. He's not acted in any way like anybody else we've seen here, and I'm talking about Matt and John David and Mark and all those guys. None of them were like this. And I've been telling you that from the start. I didn't really know why. I tried to use that illustration about him being an outlier. He's just different in that regard. He also has a great personality and an ability to handle it. You just put it all together and I think it's a clear choice without any reservation at this time.

"Then hopefully we can play well around him. The team needs to rally around him and do their parts and make sure that they make his job as easy as (it) can (be). And then he does his part by doing just what we ask of the quarterback. And I say it again: Ever since Carson Palmer was here, as great as he was, we never asked Carson to carry us on his shoulders and throw all the passes in the world to make us win football games. We wanted him to be a part – a functional part of the team. That's what we're asking Matt to do here. We're not changing what we're doing. Matt allows us to throw the entire offense. We feel very confident that we can keep our style, our philosophy and our approach together with him playing."


Pete Carroll announced on Thursday that Matt Barkley is the Trojans' starting quarterback.


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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com


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