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Matt Barkley says focus is on wins, not statistics

USC FOOTBALL

USC quarterback Matt Barkley, a Heisman Trophy favorite, has put up middling (for him) numbers so far but says he's 'perfectly happy' as long as Trojans win.

September 26, 2012|By Gary Klein, Los Angeles Times

Matt Barkley has been less than perfect.

But USC's senior quarterback, who's had four passes intercepted in the last two games, says he's "perfectly happy" if the Trojans win, regardless of his statistics.

"This is not a year for me to start complaining about stats or anything like that," Barkley said Tuesday after practice. "Because if we're winning, then I'm perfectly happy. If we're running the ball for 300 yards, than I'm perfectly happy."

The No. 13 Trojans have an open date this week before playing at Utah on Oct. 4.

Barkley's statistics through the first third of the season are comparable to what they were at this stage a year ago.

After four games last season, he had completed 68.5% of his passes for 1,120 yards and 10 touchdowns with three interceptions.

This season, he has completed 61.5% for 1,005 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions.

Barkley passed for 192 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in USC's 27-9 victory over California last Saturday.

Since then, Coach Lane Kiffin has not missed an opportunity to say that despite lofty expectations, his focus this season as the coach and play caller is on winning, not compiling gaudy individual statistics.

He said Tuesday that the message was relayed before the season to Barkley, receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods and running backs Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd.

"We're not going to force things just to get people numbers," Kiffin told reporters.

Meanwhile, Barkley's patience is being tested by defensive coordinators intent on shutting down his top two receivers.

Barkley said he has managed games "tremendously well" but could be more consistent on third downs and "putting the ball in the end zone."

The big plays, he said, will come.

"Whether it's a throw or just getting one block . . . or making a catch when you need to come down with a big one — playmakers have to make plays," he said.

Baucham improving

Cornerback Brian Baucham remained hospitalized but his condition continued to improve, said a person close to the situation who asked that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Baucham was hospitalized Saturday after playing against Cal. He was treated for an unspecified breathing issue, the person said.

Asked about Baucham's status, Kiffin, presumably concerned about privacy issues, said, "Legally, I can't get into that. . . . Unfortunately, I can't."

Quick hits

Tailback D.J. Morgan entered the practice facility suited up for the first time since undergoing knee surgery about three weeks ago. Asked about Morgan's status, Kiffin said, "We hope to have D.J. back this week." . . . Ed Orgeron, USC's defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator, was among several assistants on the road recruiting. . . . Kiffin said that Abe Markowitz, who started at left guard against Cal, would continue to play, though he stopped short of saying the senior would start. "Regardless of who's starting or who's up or who's down that week, he's going to play," Kiffin said. . . . Lee and center Khaled Holmes were among several players who were apparently excused to rest and heal. . . . Linebacker Hayes Pullard, whose left shoulder was in a sling after the Cal game, did not have the sling Tuesday when he arrived and left practice. . . . Freshman Jabari Ruffin, who came to USC as a linebacker, is on track to redshirt and is getting work as a pass-rush specialist, Kiffin said.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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