Quarterback Matt Barkley might only be a freshman, but his performance Saturday against Notre Dame put his name in the Heisman conversation.
The true freshman made his first appearance on a poll Tuesday from HeismanPundit.com, which surveys 13 Heisman voters from around the country who vote for players on a 5-4-3-2-1 point scale. Barkley’s recognition comes after a career-best performance Saturday, where he threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns.
Barkley said he was surprised by the news, but that he hadn’t spent much time thinking about the award.
“I’m just taking one game at a time … I don’t plan on [winning the Heisman] this year, but if it does, then it’d be sweet to get the chance to go back to New York,” he said. “But I’m not even thinking about that. It’s not on my radar right now.”
Barkley’s three points earned him a spot among the likes of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow, who led the first eight weeks’ worth of polls, and Alabama running back Mark Ingram, who took the top spot this week.
“I know there’s a lot of other quarterbacks who will have played better, but I think with the level of competition we’ve played, maybe that’s why they’re considering it,” Barkley said.
Barkley has thrown for 1,338 yards and five touchdowns — along with three interceptions — this season. He is undefeated in his five starts, including road games at Ohio State, Cal and Notre Dame.
“He’s a very interesting situation, you know, a freshman quarterback here at ’SC and doing well and winning all the games he’s played in so far,” USC coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s a guy that’s going to catch somebody’s attention.”
Junior tight end Anthony McCoy also turned some heads after Saturday’s game.
McCoy was the Trojans’ leading receiver against Notre Dame, where he had five catches for 153 yards. Barkley connected with McCoy early in the game, and continued to find him for large gains.
“I was in a nice little rhythm after that first catch in the first quarter and the coaches told me to be ready,” McCoy said.
McCoy caught a 60-yard pass from Barkley in the third quarter, and dragged multiple Notre Dame defenders along for additional yards before being brought down at the 15-yard line on a play that set up a USC touchdown.
“His threat down field is, I think, unmatched by a lot of college athletes and tight ends,” Barkley said. “But the way he can run vertically and just has the knack for catching the ball and finding that open window — it’s huge.”
McCoy credited the play calling for his breakout performance, and said he would be ready if the coaches called on him again.
“I’m just going with the flow right now. If they’ve got plays set up for me they do, if they don’t, they don’t,” he said. “I’m just here to play football.”