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USC's Matt Barkley aims for better game this time at Arizona State

The quarterback was a freshman two years ago when he completed only seven of 22 passes in a 14-9 win. 'It was terrible,' he says. The teams meet Saturday.

September 20, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Matt Barkley speaks with Coach Lane Kiffin during the Trojans' 38-17 victory over Syracuse on Saturday. Barkley is hoping to have a better game against Arizona than he did two years ago.
USC quarterback Matt Barkley speaks with Coach Lane Kiffin during the Trojans'… (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )

Matt Barkley's five-touchdown performance last week against Syracuse gives the junior quarterback added confidence going into Saturday's Pacific 12 Conference game at Arizona State.

Barkley will need it when he returns to Sun Devil Stadium, the scene of one of the worst games of his USC career.

In 2009, Barkley was a freshman starting for the eighth time. He completed only seven of 22 passes for 112 yards, 75 coming on receiver Damian Williams' catch-and-run touchdown.

"It was terrible," Barkley recalled after practice Tuesday. "I don't know if I was sick or if I was tired. I just felt lethargic and dead the whole game. It was not good."

Neither were the Trojans, who won, 14-9, despite converting only two of 13 third downs and committing nine penalties.

"That was probably one of the worst football games I've ever been a part of just overall," Barkley said. "I've grown in a lot of ways. We'll be a lot more prepared in a lot of areas to handle their defense."

Barkley hopes to show the expected rowdy crowd that he has come a long way.

Saturday's game will be his 28th start. He enters it having passed for nine touchdowns this season with only one interception.

Barkley is ranked 11th nationally in completions (26.7 per game) and 15th in passing yards (297.3 per game).

Armstead out

USC Coach Lane Kiffin announced that defensive lineman Armond Armstead, who has not played this season because of an unspecified medical condition, will redshirt.

Armstead, a senior from Sacramento, has not been allowed to practice since last spring, when he experienced chest pains. Armstead has said tests revealed that he did not have a heart condition. He said last week that he had sought two opinions outside of USC, but that only USC doctors could clear him.

"After meeting with everybody involved, everyone has come to the same conclusion: The best thing is to redshirt him right now, being this late in the season and having missed so much practice time and so much game time," Kiffin said after practice.

Asked if USC doctors had cleared Armstead to play, Kiffin said, "I'm not really going to go into that. That's family business." He added: "We know whether he is or he isn't, but that's not for [the media] to know. If the family wants to tell you, that's their business."

Armstead was not at practice and did not return messages seeking comment.

Kiffin said he hoped that Armstead would return to play at USC in 2012. But he acknowledged that he might seek to turn pro, saying Armstead was "a great player. I'm sure he'll look at that."

Armstead's younger brother, Arik, one of the nation's top offensive linemen, from Pleasant Grove High in Elk Grove, Calif., has committed to USC.

Quick hits

Freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson (ankle) did not practice. … Arizona State's injury woes continue. Defensive end Junior Onyeali will be sidelined against the Trojans, and possibly for the rest of the season, because of a knee injury. The Sun Devils lost cornerback Omar Bolden (knee) last spring and linebacker Brandon Magee (Achilles' tear) during the summer.

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