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Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Trojans Struggle To Unleash Aerial Attack

Aaron Fischman |
September 23, 2012 | 5:58 p.m. PDT

Senior Sports Editor


Woods is on pace for 609 yards, fewer than half of last year's total. (James Santelli/Neon Tommy)
Woods is on pace for 609 yards, fewer than half of last year's total. (James Santelli/Neon Tommy)
Despite the 27-9 victory over California, USC’s passing attack has not been unleashed, a development Matt Barkley and Lane Kiffin attribute to defenses overplaying the pass.

“If defenses are going to stay back and play a Cover 2 shell and force us to run, then we got to do it,” said the senior quarterback.

Robert Woods caught just five passes for 30 yards and has now been held to 42 yards or fewer in three of four games. This comes a season after he recorded 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“We’re seeing a complete game plan about No. 9 (Marqise Lee) and No. 2 (Woods), so that’s one of the good things about throwing those guys the ball so much earlier in the year,” said Kiffin. “People do what they did today: They spend their whole week trying to take away those two guys and that opens up your running game.”

Barkley, like any athlete who ever lived, will take the win. But he also doesn’t appear to be concerned. 

“I’m happy. I’m not looking every week to get stats or a flashy game,” said Barkley. “I’m happy with how the offense performed.”

But there is ample reason to worry about the Trojans’ passing game. After opening the season against a weak Hawaii Warriors squad, Barkley has passed for fewer than 200 yards in two of his last three games.

Last season, Barkley threw seven interceptions in 12 games, a far cry from five picks in his last three contests.

The man, whom many were anointing as this season’s Heisman favorite, has largely avoided downfield passes. Over USC’s last three games, Barkley is averaging 6.03 yards per attempt. Last season, Barkley’s yards-per-attempt average was 7.91.

For half of the Syracuse game and the entire Stanford defeat, Barkley had to deal with a shoddy offensive line. By all accounts, however, the offensive line played pretty well against Cal.

While it is true that the Golden Bears overplayed the pass and the Trojans wisely took advantage on the ground, let’s not pretend a problem doesn’t exist. When will the offense bring back its aerial dominance? That remains to be seen.

Reach Senior Sports Editor Aaron Fischman here or follow him on Twitter.




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