USC Football: 3 Things Matt Barkley Needs to Do to Win the Heisman


April 23, 2011; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) calls a play at the line during the Southern California spring game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The white team defeated the cardinal 42-29. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE

It’s early, but questions about who will win the 2012 Heisman Trophy are already starting to take shape. On Friday,

fans wrote in to CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman

with a variety of questions about the upcoming season, one of which being, who are his top five favorites for the prestigious award right now.

At the number one spot, he nodded to none other than USC’s Matt Barkley:

"1. Matt Barkley, USC: Four-year starter at a glamour program. Has nation’s top WR tandem and four O-line starters back."

The other players Feldman noted were Montee Ball (RB, Wisconsin), Tyler Wilson (QB, Arkansas), Geno Smith (QB, West Virginia), and in the fifth spot he has a tie between Landry Jones (QB, Oklahoma), and Denard Robinson (QB, Michigan).

Coming off of the season he had last year— 3528 yards, 39 touchdowns to only seven interceptions, and a 69.1 completion percentage—it’s really no surprise that is.However, even with the pedigree and the splendid 2011 season he had, there are still some things Barkley needs to do if he wants to add another Heisman to Heritage Hall.

3. Distribute the ball to different receivers as much as possibleBarkley has an arsenal of receiving talent at his disposal. If he starts catering to Robert Woods or Marqise Lee and boosting their numbers, we could easily see a Heisman race later in the fall with two Trojans on the list, which would definitely make things interesting to say the least. They were favorite targets last season, but they weren’t his only options.

He could also sling the rock to TEs Xavier Grimble or Randall Telfer, two other skill players who can be counted on to gain serious yards. With all that talent around him, it will be important that Barkley utilize them as much as possible without favoring any one target. To assert his dominance, Barkley will need to move the ball around and really command the troops. He needs to make them look good, not the other way around.

2. BCS Bowl or BustThis season, for all intents and purposes, is do or die for USC and anything short of a BCS Bowl will be considered a failure considering the squad the Trojans are bringing in 2012. While the Orange Bowl is obviously the preferred destination, making it to a postseason bowl game that matters is essential. Barkley will get no love from the voters if USC is heading to the Irrelevant Bowl come December.

If he wants to be a serious contender, he will absolutely need to lead this team through a schedule that will pose some serious threats. USC will travel to Utah, a cold, unfamiliar state that could be an early upset, as well as to Washington, where Sarkisian and his Huskies will undoubtedly be looking for revenge after the beat down they received in the Coliseum. If Barkley can lead the team to a convincing W over these teams—as well as the rest of the Pac-12 and Notre Dame—he will be golden.

1.Perform on the National Stage, and WinIf there’s one knock against Barkley, it’s that he hasn’t had any clutch, game-changing performances. Sure, in only the second game of his freshman year he led the epic comeback that was USC over Ohio State in front of a sold-out crowd in The Shoe. But one could argue that was more of a testament of then-head coach Pete Carroll’s savvy-ness, and the aid of Stanley Havili, Stafon Johnson, and Joe McKnight. Since then, Barkley has come up short: USC couldn’t seal the deal against Stanford or UW in 2010, the team suffered an embarrassing loss to Arizona State in Sun Devil Stadium in 2011, and, even though it was not his fault, USC couldn’t put the nail in the coffin against Stanford last year at home in what was probably one of the best games in the Coliseum in a long time. Even against Oregon, he didn’t have a particularly stand-out performance. If he wants to call the Heisman his, he will absolutely need one of these ice-in-his-veins, Sports Center top play-worthy performances.

This will probably be the most important aspect of Barkley’s Heisman campaign. The competition will be stiff this year; Clemson’s Sammy Watkins—who led the nation in receptions per game, all-purpose yards and touchdowns as a freshman in 2011 will give Barkley a run for his money, as well as the aforementioned players on Bruce Feldman’s list. And there will aways be the Robert Griffin III’s in the season, the players who come out of nowhere and explode in spectacular fashion. If we consider some of the Heisman winners of years past, they all had their defining moment: Reggie Bush’s insane game against Fresno; RG3 vs. TCU and Oklahoma; Cam Newton coming back from a first half beatdown against Alabama to lead Auburn over the Crimson Tide.

If Matt Barkley can have a “Heisman Moment”, the trophy is his.