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USC's Matt Barkley is focused enough to ignore the heat

Senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender is hardly complaining even though the Trojans work out for hours in blistering conditions.

August 08, 2012|By Gary Klein

Matt Barkley looked and sounded as if he was ready for an ice bath.

After two evening practices to start training camp, USC on Wednesday practiced in the afternoon heat.

Following morning meetings, the Trojans went through a high-speed workout without footballs on sun-baked artificial turf, and then returned a few hours later for a three-hour practice on their grass fields.

Not that Barkley was complaining.

In his final go-round with the Trojans, the senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender is approaching training camp with an attitude similar to one he adopted three years ago.

"I'm trying to kind of approach it like my freshman year," Barkley said. "Of trying to prove something, trying to be perfect compared to all the other guys.

"I know a lot more than I did that year but it's still a fun experience."

At times, a draining one too.

Barkley had another pass intercepted, this time by third-year sophomore Demetrius Wright, and the offense struggled at times against a defense that appeared enthused to be practicing in shoulder pads for the first time.

Junior cornerback Nickell Robey, a Florida native, said he was not bothered by the hot conditions.

"Every time I think about it being hot, I just think about how hot it is in Florida and it goes away quickly," he said, laughing. "The Cali guys they struggle with it.

"They're like, 'Man, it's so hot out here.' I was like, 'Man, you can't even imagine. You think it's hot, but it's not really.' "

It could be worse.

UCLA was not mentioned specifically, but when Barkley was asked if he was glad he was not training in San Bernardino, he said, "Yeah, who decided on that one?"

Back-up plans

Redshirt freshmen Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are competing to back up Barkley, and Coach Lane Kiffin said it would not be a week-to-week competition when the season starts.

"I would foresee having a No. 2," Kiffin said.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Wittek has gained size and strength since spring practice and the 6-1, 215-pound Kessler has improved his footwork, Kiffin said.

Quick hits

Fourth-year junior De'Von Flournoy is the No. 3 receiver, Kiffin said, because of his knowledge of the game and sustained performance. Sophomore George Farmer, who sat out most of spring practice because of leg injuries, did not practice for a second consecutive day. "It's frustrating but I can't let myself get down," Farmer said. ... Left tackle Aundrey Walker was among the players who did not practice because of minor injuries. ... USC practices Thursday at 3:15 p.m. The Trojans are scheduled to scrimmage on Friday night at the Coliseum, but Kiffin said he had not decided whether the Trojans would tackle.

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