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USC's Matt Barkley vows to keep composure

Junior quarterback doesn't expect to be emotionally overwhelmed, as former USC quarterback Matt Leinart did at the start of 2005 game against UCLA, whom the Trojans play Saturday.

November 22, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley is confident he won't let his emotions get the best of him when he lines up against UCLA on Saturday.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley is confident he won't let his emotions… (Don Ryan / Associated Press )

Matt Barkley won't be overcome with emotion Saturday against UCLA.

"I'm not really emotional as it is," the USC quarterback said Tuesday. "You don't see me getting super jacked up or super low. I'm pretty even-keeled."

So was former USC quarterback Matt Leinart. But the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner took the field in tears when the Trojans played the Bruins in 2005.

Leinart, his emotions getting the better of him in his final game at the Coliseum, was visibly shaky in the Trojans' first series.

Barkley, a junior regarded as a top NFL prospect, pointed out that his situation was "completely different" than that of Leinart, who was a fifth-year senior.

Barkley has said that he hasn't decided whether he will turn pro or return for a final season.

Still, it could be his last game for the Trojans.

"You probably won't see me crying," he said.

Nevertheless, Coach Lane Kiffin said that coaches would work with Barkley to "make sure he doesn't pull a Leinart on us."

Barkley is back in the Heisman conversation after passing for four touchdowns in the Trojans' 38-35 victory over Oregon.

USC has released a promotional video hyping Barkley for the award, which will be announced Dec. 10 in New York.

Asked to assess his Heisman chances, Barkley was optimistic.

"I think they're up there," he said, adding, "I just have to solidify it on the field, I think, this last game."

Barkley has passed for 33 touchdowns, five shy of the school record set by Leinart in 2003.

Barkley struggled at times in previous games against the Bruins, who could advance to the Pac-12 Conference championship game with a victory.

He completed 15 of 26 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions, in last season's 28-14 victory at the Rose Bowl.

As a freshman in 2009, he was 18 of 26 for 206 yards and a touchdown, with an interception, in a 28-7 win at the Coliseum.

Barkley's touchdown in that game came in the final minute on a long pass to receiver Damian Williams.

Barkley had taken a knee with 54 seconds left, indicating that USC was willing to run out the clock. But Coach Rick Neuheisel countered by calling a timeout, one of three he had at his disposal.

Former Trojans coach Pete Carroll answered with Barkley's bomb.

"It was the best ending, I think, we could ask for," Barkley said in the locker room after the game.

On Tuesday, Barkley recalled the play.

"That freshman year I was kind of oblivious to all the political aspects of football, so I was just playing," he said. "I was stoked that we scored. But, I mean, it wasn't my decision to call that play."

Quick hits

Receiver Marqise Lee was taken from the field after colliding with safety T.J. McDonald. Kiffin said he expected Lee would be OK. … Defensive tackles Christian Tupou (knee) and DaJohn Harris (ankle) were limited. … Don Andersen, USC's sports information director from 1967 to 1973, died Nov. 18 in Idaho from complications related to diabetes and kidney failure. He was 71. A memorial is being planned for early 2012 in Southern California.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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