After a first quarter that was marred by offensive mistakes, Matt Barkley is still smiling.The disappointment of two fumbles by his teammates is not weighing on his shoulders. The challenge of being the first true freshman quarterback to start a season opener for a top-five team also seems distant.Instead, Barkley is living in the moment.Cool kid · Matt Barkley (7) celebrates with Joe McKnight (4) and Damian Williams (18) Saturday at the Coliseum. The true freshman had a stellar outing in his first-ever start, throwing for 233 yards and one score. – Mike Lee | Daily Trojan“On one of our first drives in the second quarter, he walks out and says to me, ‘Isn’t this fun?’” said redshirt junior wide receiver Damian Williams. “I looked back at him and said, ‘Yeah, for you it should be a lot of fun.’”Saturday’s game became a lot more fun for Barkley after his conversation with Williams. Barkley and the rest of the Trojan offense overcame a sluggish start to score eight unanswered touchdowns to route San Jose State, 56-3, at the Coliseum.In his much-anticipated debut, Barkley proved up to the task of guiding the Trojans’ offense, completing 15 of 19 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown.The Trojans emphasized short passes and a sturdy running game to take the pressure off Barkley in his first game. But Barkley’s accomplishments weren’t lost on USC coach Pete Carroll.“Call him an outlier or whatever, but this kid isn’t normal,” Carroll said. “But who wants to be normal anyway?”Part of what put Barkley in the position to be the first true freshman ever to start an opener for USC was his confidence in himself. That poise was needed early when the Trojans’ first five drives went awry and USC found itself down 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.“Things can get whacked out when you don’t get off to a good start, but it wasn’t a big deal to him at all,” Carroll said.Barkley’s composure helped lead the Trojans to touchdowns on their next six drives, although the team leaned heavily on the running game. In all, 342 of USC’s 620 yards came on the ground.One of the many luxuries that the 19-year-old quarterback has been afforded is a running back rotation that is long on experience and talent.Junior Joe McKnight shouldered the load early and perhaps provided the game’s highlight with a weaving 54-yard jaunt that culminated with a flip into the end zone. But senior Stafon Johnson’s two short touchdown runs and redshirt junior Allen Bradford’s 43-yard scamper into the end zone also helped take the focus off the man behind center.The offense’s performance in the final three quarters helped reaffirm that Barkley doesn’t need to be the offense’s lone catalyst. Williams, who finished with three catches and 67 yards, and senior tight end Anthony McCoy were two of Barkley’s most frequent targets, often on short routes that minimized risk.“I think this is the ideal situation for any quarterback,” Williams said. “For Matt, I think it helps his comfort level tremendously. He’s so poised that he just feels comfortable out there. I think that’s because he knows he has a veteran group around him.”Barkley also found small triumphs in showing his patience. Learning to avoid forced throws and turnovers has been one of the hardest parts of the learning curve for him, but his performance Saturday displayed a shift in his mentality.“It was a little weird to make that first throw away, but I would have rather had that than a pick,” Barkley said.Said Carroll: “He almost could have been perfect.”Although Barkley has had to learn to adapt to the offense, the unit also appears to be taking on some of the characteristics of its new leader. The emotionally charged Mark Sanchez often ran hot and cold last year, as the fiery signal-caller was often seen running down field after big plays and jumping into the air in celebration after touchdowns.But save for a few moments on Saturday, Barkley was quiet and composed.The level-headed Barkley was well aware of his leadership style, as well as its advantages and drawbacks.“I think it might go both ways. I don’t really get nervous,” said Barkley, brushing aside questions of first-game jitters. “But at the same time, I don’t get super pumped up and run downfield pumping my fists. That’s just not me.”In all, Carroll said he couldn’t expect more from his quarterback in his first test at the Coliseum.“He absolutely handled this. It was no big deal for him,” Carroll said. “There are going to be some hard times, but we know he’ll have a stellar response.”
Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 7, 2018 at 4:53 pm Contact Billy: email@example.com | @Wheyen3 Syracuse entered Wednesday’s game against Florida leading the country in scoring offense at 18.75 goals per game. Florida was only allowing 11.20 goals per game. Something had to give.Florida’s defense yielded, and Syracuse didn’t stop scoring until the game was out of reach. Even though the Gators came out of the gates strong and hung tight in the first half with goals of their own, it was the Orange’s offense that proved to be enough in the Carrier Dome.Against No. 4 UF (4-2), SU’s (4-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) offense boosted it to avoid a losing streak and pick up a 17-15 win. The offensive outburst was keyed by a 7-0 run in the middle of the second half. After falling to then-No. 11 Virginia on Sunday, SU bounced back against UF by beating Florida’s star goalie Haley Hicklen, again and again. “Our offense did what they needed to do,” SU head coach Gary Gait said. “They kept scoring goals.”Syracuse emerged from the first half up 9-8 after a back and forth affair. Of those nine SU goals in the first half hour, six came from low shots on Hicklen, who had saved 16 shots in an upset of now-No. 3 North Carolina on Sunday. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textMidway through the first half, SU’s leading goal-scorer last season Riley Donahue spun to her right and burned her defender. No defender stood in front of her, but to shoot from her stronger left side, she’d have to be creative. No problem.Donahue brought the head of the stick down toward her left ankle and flicked the ball towards the cage. It went right between Hicklen’s legs and into the back of the net, the most eye-catching of six goals that were too low for the UF goalie to stop in the first half.“We definitely watched film on (Hicklen),” SU’s Nicole Levy said. “But I feel like when you’re in tight on someone, it’s easier to just hitch high and put it low.”The scoring frenzy was stunted for the final eight minutes of the first half. After a Gators goal 33 seconds into the second half tied the game at 9-apiece, it would be all Syracuse until it was too late.Sam Swart started the second-half SU scoring much like she did on a first-half goal of hers. She set up on the right wing, hopped up and down a few times and then burst to her stronger left side. After blowing by her defender, she whipped a shot from her left hip below the stick of Hicklen and into the net for a hat trick.“I feel like our passing is so fast around in a circle, the defense couldn’t keep up,” Swart said. “… We just continue, continue, continue.”A few minutes after Swart’s goal, Emily Hawryschuk was fouled and got a free-position shot from the left slot. She wound up and fired a low shot from her hip that skidded off the ground and past Hicklen’s right hip, putting Syracuse up two.The Orange run was far from over. Three quick goals, either in transition or on easy finishes in front of the cage, brought the run to five-straight goals. Then, Donahue went low again. Twice more.Hicklen entered Wednesday’s contest ranked third in the country in saves per game (13.0) and fifth in save percentage (54.6). But besides a few minutes she sat out in the first half, the Orange had her number all game long. The recipe, as it was on SU’s sixth-straight goal in the second half, never wavered from finding the bottom of the net. It worked and Donahue’s simple finish below Hicklen’s stick made it 15-9 with fewer than 15 minutes left.Less than two minutes later, Donahue completed her shooting-low hat trick. Alie Jimerson, stationed behind the net, picked Donahue out cutting right down the center of the field, who scooped the ball low and by Hicklen’s left ankle for an easy finish. The Orange had scored seven straight.“I think that for that 7-0 run, we ran them off the field in the midfield,” Gait said, “and really took advantage of our two-line midfield system, and I think it showed.”The run ended with a Shayna Pirreca goal with 12:30 remaining. But that wouldn’t end up mattering. Syracuse’s final goal of the game came from its game-leader, Levy, and it featured one more low finish.Set up at the X behind the net with about eight minutes left, Levy was marked tightly. She spun once but didn’t gain an edge. She spun again, still no edge. So she just used a quick first step to her right, wrapped around the cage and shot between Hicklen’s legs. The Florida goalie still didn’t have an answer for that spot, and although Syracuse didn’t beat her again, the Orange had beaten her low a few too many times for the Gators to hang.Florida scored five goals in the closing minutes to keep the game within reach and keep Syracuse on edge. But the Gators’ comeback wasn’t enough to overcome a seven-goal deficit.“I was very proud of our team how they responded throughout the game,” Gait said. “We didn’t allow them to make their run until the very end.”After Tuesday’s practice, Syracuse had gathered in a circle near one of the end zones on the Carrier Dome turf. Gait implored his players to get a good night’s sleep and to relax their minds before Wednesday’s game against Florida. His final message was simple.“Great opportunity to get back to where we were a few days ago,” Gait told his team.Syracuse took advantage of the opportunity. Behind an offense that just keeps scoring, the Orange is back where it wants to be. Comments
160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant “It’s so important to help students see the wider world by reading the paper and understanding their part in protecting the environment,” said Lisa Hemenway, recycling compliance manager at Waste Management. “The recycling surveys were a great way to get the whole family involved in thinking about the environment,” said Bock-Dixon, “I hope we’ve started a trend.” LITTLEROCK – The 29 sixth-graders in Sharon Bock-Dixon’s class at Antelope Elementary were honored at a recent ceremony for winning the Earth Savers’ News in Education Recycling Survey Contest, sponsored by Waste Management. Bock-Dixon’s class received certificates of appreciation and a cash prize of $250 to be used for class projects. For six weeks, nearly 400 students throughout the Antelope Valley received free copies of the Daily News every Wednesday to read and learn more about environmental responsibility. Then students took action by taking home and completing recycling surveys to see how they and their families could be more environmentally savvy.