Mailbag Monday: Matt Barkley and Robert Woods’s NFL Comparisons


We’ve been fielding your questions for our Mailbag Monday feature, so let’s celebrate the start of the work week by getting right into your questions on the USC Trojans.

When you look at Barkley’s style, it probably best resembles one of two guys: Detroit’s Matthew Stafford or Chicago’s Jay Cutler. Barkely has a less powerful arm than Stafford, but like Stafford, he can make a variety of throws and has a pretty deep ball when he can get it on point, but is prone to staring down star receivers, as seen with Marqise Lee and Calvin Johnson. When it comes to handling a pass rush, Barkley is awfully similar to Cutler, as he struggles under duress, making him prone to interceptions. Barkley has the physical tools to be a successful NFL quarterback, but he still needs help making split-second decisions in the pocket, as do most talent college quarterbacks.

For Robert Woods, it’s Carolina’s Steve Smith. Like Smith, Woods is a silky smooth route runner who seems to always get open and can be elusive in space. He’s not as agile as Marqise Lee, but he’s a better route runner and possession receiver, with better hands and off-the-ball instincts. Woods is a little bigger than Smith, but he’s just as quick and his ability to beat defenders makes up for his lack of size.

Monte Kiffin mentioned scraping the whole thing and restarting, so it’s on their mind. The thing is, which probably makes the defensive performance worse, is that USC’s defense under Monte Kiffin is designed stop the spread by being predicated on playing an attacking style of defense with considerable speed, hence safeties playing at linebacker.

It worked last year against Oregon when they held the Ducks to just four offensive touchdowns and had a three score lead late in the third quarter. Yet on Saturday, the Trojans looked incredibly slow and the defensive line made two plays all night, both being sacks on the only plays that Marcus Mariota sat in the pocket.

The defensive scheme has worked in the past, but it definitely needs to be revisited, especially if the teams meet again. USC should never give up that many points and so quickly, even to Oregon. Yes, giving up 40 points wouldn’t have been a sign of a bad defense against the Ducks, but when you force just one punt, something has got to give.

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