Tuesday Tape Room: Matt Barkley doesn’t ‘make things up’ while breaking records

Tuesday Tape Room is Pac-12 Networks football analyst (and former USC assistant coach) Yogi Roth’s chance to break down tape in search of details worth focusing on — similar to what’s happening in team meetings throughout the conference today.

“Don’t make things up!”

That's what coaches around the nation tell players before big games every weekend. For the USC Trojans that phrase is a constant message, as the hype surrounding their program is unlike any other in college football, especially at the quarterback position.

Thus far in 2012, USC senior QB Matt Barkley has played well; his numbers are comparable to his junior year, when many pegged him as a top-five NFL draft pick. Yet the pressure around him to perform at an even higher level has grown with USC’s postseason expectations.

Barkley has handled it extremely well because he has not just embraced the pressures cast upon him, but he has also dealt with the difficult times head-on. After last week's 24-14 win over Washington, where his offense was widely criticized as he went 10-20 for 167 yards with one interception and only one TD, he kept up the energy around the practice facility. For recent USC signal callers, there is always a moment like that in a season when you must deal with adversity and choose to move forward while learning from the film.

Not only did Barkley respond, but he made a bold statement as the Trojan offense regained a style and rhythm that head coach Lane Kiffin expects; one that is based on an aggressive approach with disciplined decision making from the QB.

It would be easy to think that Barkley's statement from Saturday was his 19-20 performance resulting in 298 yards and six touchdowns as he broke former Trojan great Matt Leinart’s Pac-12 career touchdown pass record of 99. But after watching film of the Colorado game, I would disagree.

What stood out on film was his one incompletion: a drop.

Barkley dropped back on a one-back play-action pass, and while he was on the verge of breaking Leinart’s record he did not force the football. He looked to his number-one read, Nelson Agholor, on a post route, swiftly reset his feet to look at the second receiver, Marqise Lee, in his progression on an over route and finally, he took what the defense gave him, a checkdown to running back Curtis McNeal.

Barkley proved that no matter how much emotion is in a stadium or how much hype is surrounding a specific situation, he can play with great poise, trust his eyes while going through his progressions and not 'make things up.’

That simple lesson showcased on film will be a subtle nuance that will carry the Trojans into Arizona this weekend, as the hype around this Trojan signal caller continues to grow.

And by the way, two plays later Barkley dialed up the record-breaking touchdown pass on a 29-yard dime to Robert Woods.


Follow former USC assistant coach and New York Times best-selling author @YogiRoth for insight on @pac12 football.


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