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UCLA's Anthony Barr planted a seed, and a QB, with epic sack vs. USC

A year ago, Anthony Barr beat USC's Aundrey Walker for a sack that ended Matt Barkley's season and signified Bruins' rebirth in city rivalry.

November 27, 2013|By Chris Foster
  • UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr's sack of USC quarterback Matt Barkley ended the signal-caller's season, but the Bruin says Trojan tackle Aundrey Walker is the real person responsible.
UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr's sack of USC quarterback Matt Barkley… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Left with an unobstructed path to the quarterback, UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr lifted up USC's Matt Barkley and planted him in the Rose Bowl turf.

The play, in the fourth quarter of last year's rivalry game, was the exclamation point in a 38-28 UCLA victory. It was also the unceremonious end of Barkley's roller-coaster college career. He sustained a separated shoulder and did not play in USC's bowl game.

"That symbolized where this team was and how we had sort of changed," UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley said this week.

The moment has been a UCLA fan's delight. Barr still occasionally receives emails with the replay attached.

Asked about the play during the Pac-12 Conference football media day in July, Barr didn't take all the credit. He said his highlight-reel play would not have been possible if not for USC tackle Aundrey Walker.

"I want to know why the tackle just let me go," Barr told reporters. "He should be standing up here and talking to you guys, because he's the reason why I was able to make the play."

Ouch.

Walker breathed a heavy sigh when asked about the play this week.

"It shouldn't have happened," he said. "It was a slide block. The whole line slid one way and he came around the edge. So it wasn't really all my fault."

But, he added, "I'll take the criticism. He's a great player. I'll give him that."

Asked again about the sack this week, Barr's comments were not as pointed. He said he merely benefited from a defensive scheme that worked.

"It was a stunt to both sides," Barr said. "A couple times I had lined up behind [defensive end] Cassius Marsh, I would drop back. I think the tackle or guard figured I would do the same. I stunted inside and came free."

It was the only sack of the game for Barr, who is expected to be a top-10 pick in the NFL draft next spring. He had 13.5 sacks last season, which ranked second in the nation.

This season, offensive coordinators have paid special attention to Barr with their blocking schemes. He has eight sacks among 17 tackles for a loss, which is tied for eighth in the nation.

As for Walker, he has moved from left tackle to right guard this season, meaning he and Barr are not likely to often cross paths at the Coliseum on Saturday.

Walker said he hadn't learned a lot from facing Barr last season anyway. "He does that same swim move over and over," Walker said. "I have to go over the film to see what he's been doing this year, if he's added anything else. They have a great defense and he's just part of it."

Now that a little more time has passed — and maybe because a rematch is coming up in a few days — Barr is less inclined to call for any USC player to explain his actions.

"I don't know what their protection was, but I was free," Barr said, "so somebody obviously made a mistake. I don't who it was, but whoever had the assignment, they blew it."

Forever leaving him with a moment that will long prompt UCLA fans to rejoice.

"That hit showed our mind-set," Hundley said. "Not just toward the game, but toward the season and what we're trying to accomplish. We're a new team. We're a different type of team."

chris.foster@latimes.com

Twitter: cfosterlatimes

Correspondent William Laws contributed to this report.

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