Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley increased his workload at practice Tuesday and was adamant that he would play against Washington State.
Barkley missed Saturday’s 16-13 loss to Washington with a bone bruise in his right shoulder. His replacement, redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp, was just 13-of-22 for 110 yards with an interception.
“I’m playing no matter what,” Barkley said after practice Tuesday. “I don’t care if it hurts or not. I’ll be in there.”
Barkley split 7-on-7 snaps with Corp and completed all five of the passes he attempted before sitting out of the 11-on-11 scrimmage.
“He made it through it,” USC coach Pete Carroll said of the 19-year-old Barkley. “The most difficult challenge right now is to manage this really well, so we’ll try to do it right and see if we can get him prepared.
“In the meantime, Aaron’s doing his stuff and getting ready.”
Asked what he thought of Corp’s performance, Barkley chose his words carefully.
“I’m not really gonna say,” he said. I thought he did the best with the opportunities that we had. We just had a couple tough breaks across the board.”
Corp said he still expects to be the starter heading into Saturday.
“I’ve got the respect of my teammates,” he said. “I’ll be ready to go regardless of if Matt’s healthy or he’s not.”
Trojan running backs coughed up the ball four times against Washington — two times by junior tailback Joe McKnight, one by senior tailback Stafon Johnson and one off a catch by redshirt junior fullback Stanley Havili.
“We’ve gotta take care of the ball, can’t turn it over,” running backs coach Todd McNair said. “We have addressed it, and we’ll go about raising our consciousness about it. We should be alright.”
McKnight’s fumbles were both recovered by the Trojans, but Johnson and Havili’s resulted in turnovers deep in Husky territory.
“It was tough,” McKnight said. “I tried to install it in my head to take care of the ball, but I let it get away from me twice in that game, so I gotta work on it from there … That’s how we lost the game.”
USC still rushed for a collective 250 yards on 33 carries and outgained the Huskies on the ground by a sizable 184 yards.
“You take the good things and you build on the good things,” McNair said. “You take the bad and you correct it.”
Third-string quarterback Mitch Mustain continued to take after-practice repetitions at punter.
“It went pretty well,” Mustain said. “I can’t wait to get some team reps tomorrow. It felt good.”
The unprecedented try-out comes on the heels of shaky performances by junior punter Billy O’Malley thus far. O’Malley has averaged 37.3 yards in 15 attempts.
“[Mustain] has a great get-off time,” Carroll said. “He’s our fastest guy by far.”
Senior safety Taylor Mays did bits of running on the sidelines at practice, but sat out of team drills.
“I don’t think that’s a great sign,” Carroll said. “I was hoping he would be ready today. But that doesn’t mean he won’t make it.”