Matt Barkley can still win a Heisman Trophy. He can still lead the USC Trojans to a Pac-12 championship, and perhaps, a BCS championship. The idea of Barkley coming back for “unfinished business” is not completely lost.
But that trio of goals took a major hit Saturday night because USC couldn’t do one thing: beat Stanford with Barkley under center. That business will be left unfinished.
In an upset sure to rattle the Sunday polls and shake up the eventual BCS picture, the No. 21 Cardinal stunned second-ranked USC at home by a score of 21-14. Barkley threw two interceptions, was sacked five times and completed just under 50 percent of his passes in an anti-Heisman performance.
But it wasn’t entirely his fault. Barkley was under duress the entire game. It’s a stretch to think that the absence of center Khaled Holmes had that much of an impact on the Trojans’ offensive woes, but the bottom line is USC’s O-line was bottom-rung. There was no running game (59 yards before sacks) and certainly no protection. Conversely, the Cardinal rushed for 200 yards behind running back Stepfan Taylor (pictured).
It was remarkable how outmatched USC was on both sides of the trenches the entire game. When the Stanford offense needed the run game the most (in the fourth quarter), it got it. David Shaw‘s group ran 14 times in the final quarter, converted four third downs and scored the touchdown that would become the difference in the game. USC’s defensive line depth, already a concern heading into the season, was unable to do anything about it either.
Stanford didn’t need Andrew Luck because it pushed USC around. It’s that simple.
If the Trojans want to get back into the BCS championship picture, they’ll need to start pushing back. It’s been two weeks now (if we’re looking back on the Syracuse win) that USC has not been a real physical team up front. And it’s only September.
The focus in Miami’s preseason camp has been on the budding battle to be the starting quarterback but Mark Richt might have bigger concerns after an injury to another star offensive player.
The Hurricanes head coach confirmed to reporters on Saturday that receiver Ahmmon Richards missed the practice after he pulled his hamstring earlier in the week. Safe to say that’s not the kind of injury you want a burner like that to suffer right before the season starts.
The Palm Beach Post reports that senior Braxton Berrios stepped up in Richards’ absence during the scrimmage with six catches for 107 yards but things figure to be a little different against real opposing defenses this fall if his running mate can’t go full blast down the field like he potentially could.
Richards averaged 19 yards a catch last season and racked up nearly 1,000 yards through the air as a true freshman. He was expected to play a pivotal role in an offense that is breaking in a new signal-caller but, given the tricky nature of hamstring pulls and wide receivers, it could be a few weeks into the year before he trots out onto the field for the ‘Canes.
John Franklin III has had a ton written about him for a player going on his fourth program in five years but here’s a little more.
The quarterback-turned-wide receiver recently gave an interview to Matthew DeFranks of the Florida Sun Sentinel on his decision to transfer to Florida Atlantic for his senior season and seemed to lob a subtle shot at his former coaching staff at Auburn while doing so.
The not “having too much fun” line will probably draw most of the attention but don’t discount the issue Franklin has with playing every snap. While he arrived on the Plains as a signal-caller, he gave way to Sean White as the starter last year and was moved all over the field in a variety of packages. This spring he changed positions to wide receiver full time as a result but decided to transfer before catching passes for the Tigers.
The former ‘Last Chance U’ star will now head to Boca to play for former coach Clint Trickett with the Owls. It’s not super clear what exact role he will have in the offense but hopefully for Franklin he can have a little more “fun” this season along the way.
A running back is on the loose in Tuscaloosa and no, that’s not as good as it sounds for the Crimson Tide.
Beat reporter Alex Byington noted on Saturday that star tailback Bo Scarbrough was noticeably absent from Alabama’s practice on Saturday when it came time for media viewing periods, the second straight time that he’s been out of sight on the field.
The Tuscaloosa News followed up on the matter and reports that Scarbrough’s attendance (or lack thereof) was “nothing serious” and Nick Saban confirmed as much later in the afternoon by saying the running back was sick with an illness that kept him out.
Sophomore Josh Jacobs also missed the viewing period on Saturday.
Scarbrough has had a light work load the past several months as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered in the national championship game. The presumed starter is still expected to be good to go for the season opener against Florida State but the absences at practice will at least make things interesting in the next two weeks at a crowded position on the depth chart.
The state of Louisiana’s top recruit will not be playing for the state’s top football team this fall.
Four-star defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin will enroll at LSU next week, according to the Baton Rouge Advocate, but will not be eligible to play in 2017 following a ruling from the NCAA on his status. The news is a big blow not only to Shelvin, but to the Tigers who are thin on the interior defensive line and were hoping to rotate in the 380-pounder this year.
Shelvin’s high school coach told the paper that the NCAA “partially denied” the defender’s eligibility, forcing him to redshirt in his first year on campus. He reportedly took several classes over the summer in order to meet requirements but apparently fell short of hitting the association’s standard to be cleared.
The loss of Shelvin’s services is a tough one after he turned into one of the center pieces of head coach Ed Orgeron’s top 10 recruiting class from February. The Tigers have had a history of talented defensive tackles running into eligibility issues in the past but the rather thin depth chart in the middle of the defensive line made bringing in Shelvin a priority.
That is not to be the case however, as LSU will move forward sans the big defender just two weeks out from the start of the season.