Trojans Rout Spartans In Barkley's Debut, 56-3
Sept. 5, 2009
LOS ANGELES (AP) -Matt Barkley passed for 233 yards after a slow start to his Southern California debut, and the No. 4 Trojans' fleet of tailbacks ran for six touchdowns in a 56-3 victory over San Jose State on Saturday.
Barkley, the first non-redshirt freshman to start a season opener at USC, shook off a rocky first quarter to go 15 for 19 with no interceptions.
He was at his best handing off to his fellow Trojans, who pounded the Spartans with six consecutive TD drives after trailing 3-0 early in the second quarter.
USC's formidable offensive line cleared the way for 343 yards rushing, along with two scores apiece by Stafon Johnson and Joe McKnight. Barkley's only TD pass put USC up 42-3 midway through the third quarter.
McKnight rushed for 145 yards, Marc Tyler added 72 and Allen Bradford made a 43-yard TD run as the Trojans rolled through their tuneup for next week's showdown at No. 6 Ohio State, which struggled to hold off Navy in a 31-27 win. USC has won 11 straight games since last September's loss to Oregon State.
After his first pass went for minus-2 yards and USC's first four drives ended in fumbles or punts, Barkley settled into the Trojans' offense, which mostly required him to make rollouts and other safe throws when not handing off. He hit Rhett Ellison for a 4-yard score in the third quarter, and one of his rare incompletions was a well-executed fade that didn't connect.
Tyler made a fourth-quarter TD run after Aaron Corp replaced Barkley, who surprisingly beat out Corp for the starting job in training camp. Corp added a 10-yard TD pass to D.J. Shoemate in the final minutes of USC's 12th consecutive season-opening win.
Kevin Jurovich has five catches for 64 yards for the Spartans, who didn't have the size or strength to stop USC's rushing attack. Although quarterbacks Kyle Reed and Jordan LaSecla both played extensively, neither had much success against the USC defense, which lost the majority of last season's starting lineup to the NFL.
Barkley's first pass for USC went for negative yardage to tight end Anthony McCoy, and his second ended up on the Trojans' sideline, wildly overthrown. The Trojans' first four drives ended in fumbles by McKnight and McCoy along with two punts, including a 24-yard clunker that set up Tyler Cope's 41-yard field goal late in the first quarter to put the Spartans ahead.
Barkley was 2 for 4 for 20 yards in the first quarter, but new Trojans play-caller Jeremy Bates largely kept the freshman's assignments simple with handoffs and several rollout throws.
Before the sun-baked Coliseum crowd even had much time to get nervous, USC's relentless running game took any excitement out of it with back-to-back TD runs by Johnson, followed by Bradford's romp and a TD run by McKnight on either side of halftime.
McKnight essentially wrapped it up with a jaw-dropping 54-yard TD run on the Trojans' first drive of the second half, slithering out of tackles and changing directions before somersaulting over the goal line.