By Will Salem | NB Indy
Newport Beach’s own Matt Barkley is quietly having a great year at USC and although is not currently on the short list of players expected to be finalists in Heisman Trophy voting he’s having a year that can be compared other USC Heisman winners.
At the halfway point this season Barkley has 1,782 passing yards with 16 TDs and 4 interceptions. USC’s record is 5-1 over that span. The two most recent USC quarterbacks to win the Heisman Trophy are Carson Palmer (2002) and Matt Leinart (2004). Here’s a quick comparison of their statistics:
- Palmer: 3,924 passing yards, 33 TDs, 10 INTs, 63.2 percent completions
- Leinart: 3,322 yards, 33 TDs, 6 INTs, 65.3 percent
- Barkley (projected): 3,564 yards, 32 TDs, 8 INTs, 68.2 percent
Amazingly, in every major category Barkley is playing at a similar level with those Heisman winners. And if Barkley does finish the season with those statistics it will be in a 12-game season, whereas Palmer’s and Leinart’s include their bowl games.
Normally this kind of performance would have surrounded Barkley with national media attention. However it’s been quiet because the electrifying performances of QB’s like Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, and Robert Griffin who have gobbled up the limelight.
In USC’s game against Cal, Barkley didn’t look very sharp at all, and yet he still finished with 195 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions for a 120 QB rating. It’s a sign of a great player that he can be a little off but still very effective. He’ll have to continue to play that way with the toughest part of his schedule coming up. He has Stanford (BCS No. 7) and Oregon (BCS No. 10) yet to come, with the rivalry games of Notre Dame and UCLA also yet to be played.
USC’s defense will help him, but not because they are dominant and will give him short fields. USC’s defense is currently ranked 47th in FBS points given up per game and 97th in FBS passing yards allowed. So USC will need Barkley to throw more in order to stay competitive in games.
Earlier this year USC allowed more than 40 points against them on back-to-back games for the first time in more than 30 years. Expect Barkley to throw often, especially against his tougher opponents. If he does, one of Newport’s better college athletes could continue to draw comparisons with other former Heisman winners.