COLLEGE FOOTBALL : USC FYI : Despite struggles, Barkley to keep starting position

November 16, 2009|Gary Klein

With its second blowout loss in three weeks hanging over the program, USC will attempt to regroup and address issues as it prepares for its Nov. 28 game against UCLA.

One element, however, will not change:

Matt Barkley is the starting quarterback.

Coach Pete Carroll said Sunday that he had no thoughts of replacing the freshman after a four-turnover performance in the Trojans' 55-21 loss to Stanford.

Despite Barkley's struggles in much of the last three games, Carroll said he and his staff have a "clear thought" that the 19-year-old gives the Trojans the best chance to win.

"We see the potential, the playmaking, the mentality and all the stuff we're looking for," Carroll said.

Barkley completed 21 of 31 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown against Stanford, but he lost a fumble and had three passes intercepted. The Cardinal converted every turnover into a touchdown.

Barkley has passed for 11 touchdowns with 10 interceptions this season.

Sophomore Aaron Corp and junior Mitch Mustain will get more snaps during bye-week practices, but when asked if he was considering benching Barkley, Carroll said, "No, he needs to keep playing."

Barkley said after the game that he would watch film and work to correct mistakes before playing against the Bruins.

"I don't know what it is exactly right now," he said. "Just keep a positive attitude and try to finish this season off strong."

On Sunday, after giving up more points than any team in USC history, the Trojans fell nine spots to 18th in the Bowl Championship Series standings. They dropped 11 spots to No. 22 in the Associated Press media poll.

"I don't think Matt was the story of the game," Carroll said. "The story was, we weren't able to stop the running game."

That trend started in a victory against Oregon State, continued in an embarrassing loss at Oregon and resurfaced against a Stanford offense that generated 325 yards rushing.

USC's front seven once again allowed running backs and a quarterback to romp into the secondary.

"After six games, I think we were up there at a pace we were all thrilled about," Carroll said of the play of the front seven. "But in the last weeks we've been knocked around.

"We're not anywhere as stout as we need to be."

USC players for years have repeated Carroll's mantra about winning games in the fourth quarter, but that has not been the case this season.

The Trojans allowed a game-winning field-goal drive at Washington, nearly blew a 34-14 fourth-quarter lead at Notre Dame, were outscored 23-3 in the second half at Oregon and were blitzed, 27-0, in the fourth quarter against Stanford.

"We're not finishing as we have in the past," Carroll said. "We're not getting stronger as the game goes on. That's the truth, as much as I hate to admit that."

Now, Carroll and his staff must refocus players who are accustomed to ending seasons as Pacific 10 Conference champions and BCS bowl participants.

Carroll said he was not worried about losing his team, but acknowledged, "Any coach is challenged by that late in the year when things you shoot for escape you."

Quick hits

The Trojans are off today and will resume practice Tuesday. . . . Carroll was pleased with the performance of redshirt freshman receiver Brice Butler, who started in place of injured Damian Williams and caught six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.


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