Matt Barkley is young, and even though he didn’t play like it in USC’s home opener, he sounded like it afterwards.
Among other things, Barkley was asked by a reporter on the field what he had learned about himself as a quarterback.
“That this is fun. This is easy. This is what I was made to do,” Barkley said.
I asked Barkley if there was anything that was difficult.
“The run up the tunnel at halftime,” he said. “That was brutal.”
One thing smart quarterbacks do is not give extra motivation to the opposing team. Especially when said quarterback has yet to really prove anything.
Let’s go over the big hurdles Barkley had to clear his first week. The opponent was San Jose State, a program that is 11-13 over the two previous seasons against a cupcake schedule. A team with far less talent than the Trojans scheduled for what was really a warm-up game. A game where USC could run a vanilla offense and still win, but needed to go to the ground game heavily after a rough first quarter. And Barkley got to play at home, in front of 85,000 adoring fans.
This weekend in Columbus, getting out of the tunnel is not going to be all that easy and things are going to get harder from there. Ohio State has NFL-level talent all over the field, a coach and a program used to big games and big stages, plus a defense that will be looking for some revenge after finding it hard to stop Navy’s awkward triple-option offense. Vanilla is not going to cut it, nor are off quarters.
Oh, and there’s the 105,000 fans that will not be showing Barkley any love. Really, it will be the opposite of love. In another quote Barkley said that wouldn’t matter, that no crowd will faze him.
That’s a bold statement after one cushy game. The question becomes: Is Barkley confident or cocky? He’s going to need confidence; any good quarterback needs a lot of it. But if it turns to cockiness, if he continues to think that this is all easy, he could be in for some rude awakenings. Beyond Ohio State looms a trip to South Bend and a Notre Dame team that is starting to look good again, and then there is a trip to Berkley to face Cal, a team that always gives USC fits and also is loaded with talent.
If he’s cocky, that ego is in for a rough season. And so are USC fans.