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USC FOOTBALL

Matt Barkley, ahead of schedule, appears in a Heisman poll

Quarterback makes his first appearance in the poll at No. 13.

October 21, 2009|Gary Klein

USC quarterback Matt Barkley began the season projected as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate -- in 2010 or 2011.

But the freshman's name popped up Tuesday in the HeismanPundit.com poll, which features votes taken from 13 voters across the country.

Alabama running back Mark Ingram was first, Florida tailback Tim Tebow second and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen third.

Barkley, who passed for 380 yards and two touchdowns in the Trojans' 34-27 victory over Notre Dame, made his first appearance in the poll at No. 13.

Times writers do not participate in Heisman balloting or the poll.

Barkley said he was surprised by his inclusion in Heisman discussion.

"Nothing means anything right now," he said after practice.

USC has not lost in the five games started by Barkley, who has completed 60% of his passes with five touchdowns and three interceptions.

He said he did not plan on being voted a Heisman finalist.

"If it does [happen], then that would be sweet, just to get a chance to go back to New York," he said. "But I'm not even thinking about that. It's off my radar right now."

Barkley completed 19 of 29 passes and connected with receiver Damian Williams for both touchdowns against Notre Dame.

After reviewing tape of his performance, which also included an interception, Barkley was unimpressed.

"It was not as pristine as I thought it was," he said. "There's always stuff to improve on."

Coach Pete Carroll likened Heisman attention to the Bowl Championship Series standings.

"The Heisman and BCS are kind of in the same boat for us," said Carroll, whose team is seventh in the BCS standings heading into Saturday's game with Oregon State at the Coliseum. "It's outside of our control, so you just play and stuff comes your way, hopefully."

On the mend

Receiver Ronald Johnson played for the first time this season against Notre Dame, but it is clear that the junior is still working his way into game shape.

Johnson's lone reception against the Fighting Irish came on a pass that glanced off another receiver. He also had a pass bounce off his hands into the arms of a Notre Dame defender for an interception.

Johnson, who suffered a broken collarbone in August, said he felt good during the game but appeared to struggle through much of Tuesday's workout. "It's kind of like going through [training] camp again," he said. "I'm sore everywhere."

Barkley is attempting to help Johnson. "I'm trying to boost his confidence," he said. "He's kind of down a little bit. So not 100%, but we're working on it. We're getting there."

Shoemate to start?

With fullback Stanley Havili questionable because of a shoulder injury, sophomore D.J. Shoemate is preparing to start against Oregon State.

Shoemate caught two passes for 23 yards and a touchdown in the season opener against San Jose State.

Quick hits

Offensive guard Alex Parsons returned to practice after suffering a concussion against Notre Dame. . . . Carroll opened his weekly news conference by saying, "Just a note about last week. It was great to beat Notre Dame twice."

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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