Matt Barkley, USC prepare for championship run

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Matt BarkleyDespite the two-year Bowl ban, the NCAA sanctions, and no reason to play for in 2011, Lane Kiffin and Matt Barkley guided the USC Trojans to a surprising 10-2 record with road wins over Notre Dame and a thrilling 38-35 victory over the Oregon Ducks with their only losses coming to Arizona State early in the season and a triple overtime loss to Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal. Sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods led the PAC 12 in receptions and freshman wide out Marquise Lee emerged as a top flight No. 2 receiver opposite of Woods and led the PAC 12 in receiving yards.

The big reason for USC’s bounce back year was their much improved defense. Freshmen Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard led a lightning fast line backing corp that were quick to the ball, great tacklers and ball hawks that helped the defense to a No. 5 ranking in defensive scoring in the PAC 12. Defensive coordinator Monty Kiffin simplified his Tampa 2 scheme and the fact that practice included tackling this year contributed to a much improved defense that came on strong over the last five games of the season. USC is returning nearly everyone on defense and the strength again will be the linebackers and safety T.J. McDonald and corner Nickell Robey who will end up playing on Sundays in the next two years.

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The bowl ban is over in 2012, but the loss of scholarships begins this year limiting the Trojans to only 15 scholarships each year over the next three seasons. This means Lane Kiffin and his staff must be very selective and have a small margin of error on the recruits they can make offers to. USC has commitments from four recruits ranked in the top 100 by Rivals.com which includes five-star offensive lineman Jordan Simmons and is still very much in the race for five-star offensive lineman Zach Banner. Of the twelve commitments USC has this class, nine are four star athletes. Cyler Miles, the No. 2 dual threat prospect who is also a four star recruit and a Washington commit, is considering changing to USC. National signing day is just a few days away and expect Lane Kiffin and the Trojans to finish with a strong recruiting class yet again. It is Kiffin’s calling card.

Matt Barkley passed up millions and the NFL to return to complete “unfinished business” he said in his press conference that he and the Trojans have. Barkley is the prototypical quarterback prospect that makes NFL scouts drool and he will most certainly be the top draft pick in 2013, but he has his sights squarely set on guiding this team to the PAC 12 championship and the BCS title. USC will certainly be a preseason top five with some publications picking them as the top team and favorites to end the SEC’s championship reign. The schedule is very favorable for the Trojans in 2012 with Notre Dame and Oregon traveling to the Coliseum. USC has the top receiving tandem in the country in Robert Woods and Marquise Lee and USC’s offense should pick up where they left off and the defense should be even better.

All the USC haters around the country better watch out! Barkley and the Trojans will be playing with a chip on their shoulders and something to prove. USC should play for the BCS title in Miami next year. The only question is who will be their opponent?

Mario Raez is a College Sports writer for The Sports Blitz

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One Response to Matt Barkley, USC prepare for championship run

  1. JH says:

    Good article. It’s all going to come down to the two games with Oregon, because no matter who wins the first one they are still going to play in Pac 12 Championship.

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