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Matt Barkley, Robert Woods becoming foundation of USC's offense

The Trojans are beginning to build their offense in large part around the junior quarterback and sophomore receiver.

April 09, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley, shown at spring practice April 2, completed 22 of 33 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception, during Saturday's 86-play scrimmage.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley, shown at spring practice April 2, completed… (Kirby Lee / Image of Sport…)

Matt Barkley went through most of Saturday's practice and scrimmage at the Coliseum with a camera mounted on the front of his helmet.

The intent was to give fans a point-of-view experience through the eyes of USC's junior quarterback.

"Hopefully, they got some good shots out of it," Barkley said.

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Video editors will no doubt spend much of their time culling through footage of receiver Robert Woods, as Barkley continuously looked for the sophomore in drills and during an 86-play scrimmage.

With the third week of spring practice complete, it is clear that USC's offense will be built in large part around Barkley and Woods.

"You can do all the game-planning you want, but it's not going to matter if you don't have the guy to throw it and the guy to catch it," Coach Lane Kiffin said. "We've got a lot of work to do around [them] though."

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Barkley completed 22 of 33 passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns, without an interception, against an injury-depleted defense lacking three projected starting linebackers and one projected starting cornerback.

Woods, playing three receiver spots, caught 10 passes, including two for touchdowns.

"He's separated himself by being the smartest receiver out there," Barkley said.

On a day when Kiffin shied from calling for deep drops because of an inexperienced offensive line, Barkley mainly played pitch-and-catch with Woods.

The former Gardena Serra High star is emerging as a team leader despite being in the program for less than a year.

"It's not by what year you are, but by your experience," Woods said.

Barkley pronounced his confidence in other Trojans receivers, but acknowledged it was difficult to resist Woods, especially when the receiver finds one-on-one coverage.

"It is kind of enticing knowing that most likely he's going to win," Barkley said. "I usually go through my reads. I don't try to single in on a receiver because that kind of messes with my head."

Baxter hurt

A hush fell over the already quiet stadium when tailback Dillon Baxter lay on the field clutching his right leg.

Baxter's lower body was twisted by several tacklers after he caught a short pass. He was helped off the field by two trainers, and Kiffin said he had suffered a high right ankle sprain.

Baxter rushed for nine yards in four carries before he was hurt. Redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan rushed for 51 yards in 16 carries and junior Curtis McNeal gained 42 yards in eight carries. Senior Marc Tyler had seven yards in three carries.

Quick hits

Defensive lineman George Uko and safety Demetrius Wright each had seven tackles. … Sophomore receiver Markeith Ambles was absent. Kiffin said Ambles, who had performed punitive conditioning drills on Thursday for being late to a weight-lifting session, did not show up for practice Saturday. … Tight end Christian Thomas did not participate because of an academic issue, but Kiffin said he expected the sophomore to be reinstated Monday. … Several members of the U.S. Army's 243rd Battalion, which is scheduled to be deployed to the Persian Gulf this month, addressed the team before practice, a school official said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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