So, Matt Barkley threw a pass. A 48 yard pass. Downfield. After kneeling the ball.
Sure, you can debate whether it was the right move. Honestly, I don’t care. Because this throw, and the aftermath, means so much more.
The Trojans are beginning to show some emotion. Actually, let’s go one better—the Trojans are showing aggression.
After hearing Petro Papadakis say “bubble screen” on my television for about the fortieth time, I was ready to throw something at the glowing screen in front of me. Not only was the constant repetition mildly irritating, but the knowledge that my beloved Trojans ran bubble screens almost every other play finally brought me to the breaking point.
I’m sick of the bubble screen and everything that it stands for. I’m sick of conservative, read-and-react defense. I’m sick of throwing the ball sideways into a screen, allowing the opposing defense to crowd the line of scrimmage and stop the offense with ease.
The Barkley-to-Williams hookup brought closure not just to another rivalry game, but a game that witnessed the transformation of a not-so-dominant USC team.
Don’t get me wrong—the Trojans were far from spectacular. It took a Joe McKnight injury to truly spark the offense. Without Joe, the Trojans could not motion into an empty backfield, and throw a McKnight bubble screen.
Barkley was given permission to throw downfield. And guess what? The Trojans moved the ball with success.
Yes, there was an errant interception. He is a freshman. It happens.
However, there were several easy first downs to Ronald Johnson on the sideline. And, of course, a deadly accurate pass to Damien Williams to close the game. Not an overthrow, not a miss. Matt Barkley had one play to make a statement for his team.
He did not fail.
To compliment a defense that finally decided to make their own plays rather than simply react, the Trojan offense made an aggressive move for the first time in a long time.
Thank you, Rick Neuheisel.