Thanks to injuries of varying degrees of severity and personnel limitations wrought by NCAA sanctions, USC’s main mission heading into Saturday was seemingly getting out of the spring game relatively unscathed health-wise.
If that was indeed the Trojans’ mission, consider it accomplished.
With a no-tackling mandate in full effect, the Trojans’ defense came out with a 34-27 decision over the offense in front of 15,000 fans. As explained by the team’s official website, the scoring system in part involved the defense being awarded 3 points for defensive stops of drives and 5 points for turnovers in the 91-play game.
In the end, however, the only thing that mattered was the fact that the Trojans emerged from the annual game healthy, with the added bonus of continuing the progression that’s been ongoing since the sessions began last month. Or, as the Los Angeles Times put it…
“Kiffin was simply relieved that his team emerged without another season-ending injury.”
Statistically, and for what it’s worth, quarterback Matt Barkley (duh) led the Trojans’ offensive attack, throwing 212 yards on 22 completions and one touchdown. Continuing a something-to-watch-for trend this spring, however, the senior signal caller tossed another interception. D.J. Morgan, the presumptive favorite to start at running back — especially with the season-ending injury suffered by linebacker-turned-tailback Tre Madden — ran for 56 yards on six carries, with 47 of those yards coming on a touchdown run.
In addition to the yards he was expected to pile up in a meaningless exhibition game, Barkley may have also put himself in the running for a quote-of-the-year award. No, actually, he did put himself squarely in that mix.
“All that stuff is just such bogusness.”
The 2012 Heisman Trophy front-runner — yes, he is, so stop the whining before it even starts — was referring to the preseason love the Trojans have already garnered, love that will likely translate into, at bare minimum, a Top Two preseason ranking when the polls come out in early August. Bogusness or not, and regardless of how much the program from Kiffin to Barkley and all points in between attempts to downplay it, lofty preseason rankings are exactly the position in which the Men of Troy will find themselves come August.
If they remain healthy? There’s no reason the Trojans can’t live up to the lofty preseason expectations. Regardless of how much it’s downplayed in the spring.