USC quarterback Matt Barkley passed his first college test with ease.
The strong-armed freshman led the Trojans to a 56-3 win against San Jose State, but that was in front of his home crowd, and against a team with vastly inferior talent.
This Saturday, Barkley will face a much better defense in one of the most hostile environments in college football. So the big question is, how will the freshman respond to playing in front of the vocal Ohio State fans in Columbus?
“I think we have a very unusual, unique guy. I don’t think he’s like most guys. He wouldn’t be in the position he’s in if he was typical,” Carroll said. “He still has to get there and do it, but he’ll handle himself quite well, I’m sure.”
Barkley is confident that he won’t be fazed by the crowd but admitted that he hasn’t played in many tough venues.
“I don’t think I’ve ever really played in one. Probably seventh grade when parents got into a fight after a junior all-American game,” Barkley said. “That was about it though.”
USC head coach Pete Carroll also downplayed the significance of playing on the road.
“It isn't as much different as everybody might think,” Carroll said. “It will be great fun for him.”
On-field communication is one aspect of the game that will definitely pose a problem for the Trojans, so Carroll piped in simulated crowd noise during Tuesday’s practice to prepare for playing at Ohio Stadium.
“I think that’s really the only factor that will get to us — the sound. You’ll be able to feel it, but that won’t affect me,” Barkley said. “I don’t care what they say; they can say what they want. That won’t affect me. I don’t care what color they’re wearing. As for the sound, we’ll deal with it.”
So, how will Barkley deal with the crowd noise?
“Bring it on, I’ll imagine they’re all cheering for us,” he said with a smile.
- Drew McAllister, Jurrell Casey, Kevin Thomas and Armond Armstead were among the players that didn’t participate in Tuesday’s practice.
Jurrell Casey and Kevin Thomas have both missed the first two practices of the week due to illness but Carroll expects them to play against Ohio State.
“There’s no danger of them not making this trip, as far as I understand,” Carroll said. “They’ll both be back tomorrow."
- USC center Kristofer O’Dowd met with team doctors on Tuesday and has been cleared to play in Saturday’s game against Ohio State.
- Matt Barkley turned 19 on Tuesday, so how did the Trojans’ quarter spend the big day?
“I had tutoring and class and watched some film,” Barkley said with a laugh. “It was just a normal Tuesday. It was nothing special.”
- Freshman cornerback Byron Moore nearly made a leaping one-handed interception on a pass from Matt Barkley. Moore continues to be one of the Trojans’ more impressive freshmen.
“He’s playing really well. He almost made an incredible play today,” Carroll said. “He’s been a really competitive kid out here. It’s been obvious in his presence. He’s tough and he’s made plays. He’s off to a great start with us.”
Carroll said the coaches haven’t determined if Moore will get playing time this season or redshirt.
“That’s a guy, in his situation, we’d like to wait and see what we do with him. See how we progress in the first month or so of the season and see if everybody stays healthy and together,” Carroll explained. “He may or may not be called to duty. We’ll have to wait and see. There are a handful of guys who are in that position right now because of the depth at that spot.”
USC center Kris O'Dowd was cleared to play against Ohio State. (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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