On a day that ended with a failed halfback pass, junior quarterback Matt Barkley and the rest of USC’s first-team offense were left searching for the explosiveness that was a trademark of last year’s group.
“I’m not worried about [throwing interceptions] at all,” Barkley said. “There’s a lot that goes into any given play between me and the receiver. I have goals that I set for myself and things that I want to accomplish this year and I’m excited.”
Shoddy route running and poor pass protection were two of the more noticeable problems for a Trojans offense that saw Barkley throw away as many balls as he completed.
Aside from junior Robbie Boyer, who was a frequent target all morning, the rest of the receivers looked lost in the offense and compounded the problem by proving to be less-than-stellar catching the ball.
Although sophomore Robert Woods did show flashes of talent befitting of the Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year, even he struggled with consistency and lacked the playmaking ability that helped him become the first true freshman to start at wide receiver for USC since World War II.
The maligned offensive line was thoroughly manhandled for much of the day by an equally criticized defensive line.
On the offensive front, coach Kennedy Pola’s group is trying to find replacements for three starters along the line, including possible top-15 pick Tyron Smith. The group is a work in progress for now, and hopefully the offensive leadership will be enough to ease the transition for the young lineman.
“I’m just trying to get their spirits up since the [young guys] get down on themselves sometimes,” Barkley said. “Try to keep it positive, keep it up beat and just keep getting back to the line [and start over].”
Senior T.J. McDonald heads a young secondary that has all but wrapped up its search for a starting corner opposite sophomore Nickell Robey. Former junior safety Tony Burnett once again saw extensive playing time at corner, and it is clear the job is his.
At the running back position, redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan showed the type of explosion to turn the corner, which along with his soft hands, made him a constant threat on swing passes throughout seven-on-seven drills.