Barkley Named USC Starting Quarterback

Pete Carroll gives the ball to a true freshman. That is going to pay off in the long run.

And a freshman shall lead them.

USC could have the most potent offense in all of college football, and Thursday coach Pete Carroll turned the keys for that Ferrari over to Matt Barkley, the true freshman out of Mater Dei. It's the first time a true freshman has started under center for USC in the Carroll era.

Aaron Corp was named the starter out of spring ball, but on one of the first days of practice a defensive lineman rolled up his leg and cracked his left fibula. Corp returned to practice this week but part of what made him special was his mobility — Corp was going to get some first downs with his feet. Except, this week it didn’t look like he could do that anymore.

Meanwhile, Barkley was throwing darts all over the field. He was calm under pressure, he showed real leadership. He took the job more than Corp lost it.

In the short term, Trojan fans better buckle their seatbelts because this could be a bumpy ride. Barkley has a gunslinger’s arm and a gunslinger’s mentality — he threw 18 interceptions his senior year of high school and has thrown plenty in practice this fall. (Of course, USC’s defensive backfield is loaded with NFL talent, it’s a tough way to learn.) Carroll hates turnovers even more than most coaches, and if one thing gets Barkley benched it will be that.

Barkley is also that quarterback that can win USC games. Corp was a little more of a game manager, which works fine considering all the talent around him. But if you’re going to win the really big games — like beating Ohio State in Columbus — your quarterback is going to have to make some plays. Barkley can do that.

What’s more, he will do that for a few years. The advantage to taking some lumps with a true freshman is that he is going to reach his amazing potential more quickly. And that is good for the program long term — Barkley is going to be the next star quarterback, and he is going to get there sooner rather than later. So he gets the nod Sept. 5 against San Jose State.

Don’t feel too bad Corp, being the backup quarterback at USC is not so bad. Just ask Matt Cassel. He’ll get back to you as soon as he’s done counting the money from his new $60 million NFL contract.

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