Barkley’s Struggles: Fundamental Flaws or Circumstantial Issues


Sep 22, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley (7) reacts after the game against the California Golden Bears at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated California 27-9. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

Matt Barkley had a lot of hype to live up heading into his senior season:. Heisman Trophy, National Championship, USC redeemer, and top draft pick. None of that has really gone according to plan.

He suffered his fourth miserable defeat against Stanford, this time without Andrew Luck as the principle reason for his demise. This loss virtually removed USC from national championship discussions and they haven’t been impressive enough in recent weeks to put their name back in the mix. And finally, he is several steps behind Geno Smith in the Heisman race as well as the race for the number one pick.

Now Barkley is getting the inevitable questions that follow the senior quarterback struggles.

One of the main questions is in regards to Barkley’s physical attributes. He has never had the towering height, blazing speed, or cannon arm that Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin had this year. What he does have are guts, intelligence, and experience in a pro-style system.

Barkley’s arm strength is a big question mark recently. Many question his ability to drive the ball down the field and Barkley has earned the title of ‘Captain Checkdown’ this season for his tentativeness at throwing downfield. I think both of these concerns have reasonable explanations.

Barkley has had issues pushing the ball down the field ever since his freshman year. The key to this flaw is his tendency to cock back and release the ball high off his back foot. It is a little strange for him to do this as he puts a good amount of zip on his mid-range passes. Barkley certainly doesn’t have a Matt Stafford-quality arm, but he could refine his technique and drop the flutter from some of those deep balls.

I believe the increase in check-downs lies in his O-line’s struggles this year. I am not as high on Khaled Holmes as a prospect, but he is a good college Center and he was missed by Barkley when he was hurt. USC’s passing game has been shrunk to a quick-draw scheme. Robert Woods has also been uncharacteristically bad at getting open.

Barkley surely must shoulder some of the blame for this season that has failed to live up to the admittedly ridiculous hype. He is certainly looking like a first rounder, and should still be a top 15 pick. However, it remains to be seen if pro scouts begin to see these struggles as a statement of his prospectus or a statement of his circumstances.