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USC Football Fall Notebook - Barkley and Woods Light Up Scrimmage

James Santelli |
August 22, 2011 | 1:00 a.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor

Matt Barkley (#7) is gaining a premonition with his receivers. (Shotgun Spratling)
Matt Barkley (#7) is gaining a premonition with his receivers. (Shotgun Spratling)
On a day that quarterback Matt Barkley and receiver Robert Woods connected on six passes for 122 yards, the question had to be raised, is there a deeper connection that guides their passing success?

"We're just on the same page," Barkley, the USC starting quarterback, said, "Whether it's telepathically or something else. I just know what he's going to do." (The full video of Barkley's press conference can be found at the bottom of this page.)

Trojan fans certainly hope that any telepathic connection will be as strong in September as it was on Sunday's scrimmage, in which Barkley completed 15 of 25 passes for 261 yards and five touchdowns - three of those scores to Woods.

When Woods was asked about any possible "telepathic connection," the receiver said that on two of the scoring plays it "seemed like we knew what each other was going to do."

The telepathy between Barkley and Woods had not been at head coach Lane Kiffin's disposal for much of fall camp. The sophomore wideout suffered an ankle sprain just before the Spring Game, and did not fully participate in practice until Friday afternoon. Woods told reporters he was "shocked" at how long the injury has lingered.

If Barkley is looking to forge another clairvoyant connection on offense, he may find one in Marqise Lee, who also had an impressive day and was described by coach Kiffin as playing "very big and very physical" and "definitely showed he's going to play a lot."

"I thought we looked faster today with [Woods] being out there and the emergence of Marqise," Kiffin said. "I think it makes us look different."

(All videos from Ryan Nunez.)

The freshman receiver collected seven receptions for 165 yards, including an impressive 40-yard touchdown strike from a fellow freshman, quarterback Cody Kessler.

Kessler outperformed his counterpart Max Wittek in the ongoing battle for the backup quarterback job, completing 13 of 19 passes for 228 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Wittek, also a true freshman, finished the day just 11 of 23 for 119 yards, though he did have two TDs and no picks.

The offense certainly belonged to the passing game today, which attempted 69 pass attempts and 608 yards through the air, and got all nine touchdowns for the offense. Meanwhile, there were 36 carries for 114 yards in the scrimmage for USC's running game. Curtis McNeal started the game at running back, but it was redshirt freshman D.J. Morgan that led all rushers with 44 yards on 12 carries.

Sunday's scrimmage was the last "preseason game" of the fall for USC. The Trojans' next practice will be Tuesday morning at 7:45 a.m.


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