I suspect perceptions about this game will be pivotal come draft time, where the people that like Barkley will make excuses for his shoddy play due to bad O-line, and those that don't will knock him and think him questionable in the big moments. This game will be to what Matt Barkley, as to what that comeback vs. VT was for Matt Ryan in his draft process.http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/blog ... ford-again
Barkley, Trojans fail against Stanford... again
By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com
September 16, 2012 12:41 am ET
0 | Comment
Matt Barkley surprised many with the decision to turn down a potential top five selection in the 2012 NFL draft to return to USC for his senior season.
Many of the goals he'd set for himself and his Trojans are now in doubt after a stunning 21-14 loss to Stanford Saturday night.
For USC, which entered the contest ranked No. 2 in the country, the loss significantly damages their chances at winning the Pac-12 and securing one of the BCS bowl invitations. And while there is certainly time for USC to get back into national title contention, don't think Saturday night's loss was simply due a sloppy play or five from the Trojans; USC was physically controlled at the line of scrimmage. Stanford ran for 202 yards in this contest. USC ran for just 26.
For Barkley, who entered the game widely regarded as the Heisman favorite and the potential No. 1 overall pick of next April's draft, the loss could be just as damaging to his own stock.
For the first time in 18 games Barkley did not throw a touchdown (Oregon State, 2010). He completed just 20 of 41 passes for 254 yards and threw interceptions on back to back throws in the second quarter. He also lost a fumble getting sacked earlier in the game. Consider that other than a failed fourth down pass attempt to freshman fullback Soma Vainuku halfway through the third quarter, USC never seriously threatened to score after halftime.
The loss also makes Barkley 0-4 against Stanford for his career, a significant concern for NFL scouts because of the fact that the Cardinal are one of the few Pac-12 teams to play a lot of physical press coverage -- precisely the type of coverage Barkley (and his receivers) will be expected to be able to beat in the NFL.
For all of his success, Barkley remains a hotly debated prospect with NFL scouts. Listed at 6-2, 230 pounds, he's shorter than scouts would prefer and has only average arm strength. He's been able to get away with less than ideal physical characteristics because he's played with terrific poise and anticipation throughout his career.
Against Stanford Saturday night, however, Barkley was uncharacteristically rattled. Breakdowns in pass protection left him scrambling for time and the rhythm he normally enjoys with his playmaking star wideouts Robert Woods and Marqise Lee was largely non-existent in this game due to Stanford's physical play in the secondary. Because he doesn't have an elite arm or the running skills to scare defenses with his legs, Barkley appeared frightfully pedestrian, at times, when the "little things" that he's normally so good at were minimized.
Barkley clearly missed his center Khaled Holmes, who was knocked out of the Trojans' last game against Syracuse with a lower leg injury and though he dressed and reportedly warmed up for this game, he never left the sideline.
Stanford also took advantage of the inexperience of sophomore left tackle Aundrey Walker, who was starting his first conference game since taking over for Matt Kalil, the No. 4 overall pick by the Minnesota Vikings.
But Barkley suddenly throwing interceptions for the Trojans isn't something new. While he only threw seven interceptions against 39 touchdowns a season ago, Barkley struggled with picks during spring practices. At one point in late March, he'd thrown interceptions in seven of the team's eight spring practices. Barkley did not thrown an interception in USC's season-opening thrashing of Hawaii but was picked off last week against the Orangemen.
To Barkley's credit, the accuracy he'd shown throughout his spectacular career with the Trojans seemed to return on USC's final drive. While slightly behind on his first pass to Lee, Barkley returned with a couple of very nice throws, including one down the seam to freshman Nelson Agholor (which was dropped) and a very accurate ball down the left sideline to Lee on 4th down to extend the drive.Two plays later Barkley hit Agholor for 20 yards and USC appeared to be in business at the Stanford 46 yard-line with about a minute left and one timeout.
A pair of sacks and two penalties on the offensive linemen attempting to protect Barkley ended USC's final chance in this game quite emphatically, however. While USC began what turned out to be their final offensive series in this game first and 10 at the Stanford 46, they finished it with wounded duck lofted deep and out of bounds down the right sideline facing 4th and 40 from their own 24.
For now, scouts will take this game for what it is -- one disappointing game in what has been a record-setting career for Barkley.
But make no mistake about it, after tonight Barkley's perch atop the 2013 leaderboard is shakier than its ever been.