4. Matt Barkley needs to find it.
Somewhere in Manhattan Beach, Lane Kiffin is probably on the phone trying to recruit the 2011 Matt Barkley to return for his senior season, as opposed to the 2009 Matt Barkley, as for some reason, the Matt Barkley taking snaps and throwing errant balls this season is not the one the Trojans expected to have last December.
Barkley has 13 interceptions, nearly twice the amount he had all of last season, and he’s not just getting unlucky, he’s doing all of the things that you’d expect to see out of freshmen Marcus Mariota and Brett Hundley, not Matt Barkley. He’s staring down receivers, underthrowing tight ends on fade routes, overthrowing receivers on button hooks and panicking when pressured.
While Barkley’s 33 touchdowns are second in the nation and he’s well on pace to beat his single season record he set a year ago, he needs to have his best games in this home stretch if the Trojans want to get to the Rose Bowl.
Last season, Barkley played his best three games against Notre Dame, UCLA and Oregon, with the game in South Bend quite possibly being his most mature performance as a Trojan. Now’s the time for him to step up and show that he’s the No. 1 draft pick he was pegged to be, not just a regressing USC record holder, a la Rob Johnson.