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Pete Carroll says Matt Barkley should be at his best

The Trojans' freshman quarterback has struggled the second half of the season, but his coach says the time off before the Emerald Bowl will serve him well.

December 25, 2009|By Gary Klein
  • Quarterback Matt Barkley will complete his 13-game freshman journey with USC on Saturday against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl.
Quarterback Matt Barkley will complete his 13-game freshman journey with… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from San Francisco — USC quarterback Matt Barkley is prepared to put the finishing touch on his first season.

Barkley, a true freshman, will make his 12th start Saturday against Boston College in the Emerald Bowl at AT&T Park.

It has been an up-and-down season for the 8-4 Trojans and their 19-year-old quarterback.

Barkley has passed for 13 touchdowns and had 12 passes intercepted.

But he has had three weeks to get ready for his final game in what has been a season-long learning experience.

"He should be at his best," Coach Pete Carroll said after Thursday's practice at City College of San Francisco. "This is the culmination of the season, there's been a little bit of a break and he came back to it almost like going to a mini kind of spring football.

"I'm hoping that he's feeling very comfortable with what's going on and he can show that he's growing."

Barkley's previous performance was not among his best.

He completed 20 of 37 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown with one interception in the Trojans' 21-17 loss to Arizona, a defeat that dropped USC from the Holiday Bowl into the Emerald Bowl.

Barkley, though, has remained poised despite criticism.

Barkley said this week that his arm was a bit fatigued from the demands of a full college season, but he was looking forward to finishing on a high note in preparation for next season.

Quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is hoping that Barkley can put it all together against the Eagles.

"This is a big game for him," Bates said. "It's a bowl game and he's had two to three weeks to prepare.

"It's a different mind-set because we're away from home, so it's a great experience just having to handle the situation."

Corner kick

Senior cornerback Kevin Thomas did not practice because of ankle soreness, but he will play Saturday.

Carroll said he had not determined who would start opposite Thomas in place of injured Josh Pinkard.

Junior Shareece Wright, sophomore T.J. Bryant and redshirt freshman Brian Baucham all will play.

Quick hits

The Trojans will have a short workout today at AT&T Park. It is closed to the media and the public.

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