Sunday, September 6, 2009

Barkley a big hit in Trojans' debut

As far as debut performances go, it could scarcely have gone better for Matt Barkley and No. 4-ranked USC. Following a sluggish first quarter, the Trojans came alive in the second with four straight touchdowns on the way to a 56-3 rout of overmatched San Jose State.

Barkley became the first true freshman to start at quarterback for the Trojans, and a conservative game plan with a strong emphasis on running allowed the former Mater Dei star to focus on high-efficiency passing. For the day, he completed 15 out of 19 passes for 233 yards.

With as much anticipated as there was, Barkley can say that he has some experience (though on certainly a far smaller scale). He started as a freshman at Mater Dei just four years ago.

While Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson both rushed for two touchdowns and Allen Bradford added another to built a 35-3 lead in the third quarter. Barkley, who completed passes to eight different receivers, found junior tight end Rhett Ellison for a four-yard touchdown with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter.

Barkley played until early in the fourth quarter before giving way to former Orange Lutheran star Aaron Corp. After splitting time with Mitch Mustain as Mark Sanchez's backup in 2008, Corp showed plenty of ability in his opportunity to play. Twice he completed passes to fellow ex-Lancer Blake Ayles for 22 yards, while also connecting with former Servite standout D.J. Shoemate for 23 yards, 13 of those coming on a dumpoff pass on fourth down for the game's final score (and Corp's first career TD pass with the Trojans).

Looking at other county products suited up in Cardinal and Gold, it was walk-on Ahmed Mokhtar from Mater Dei (by way of Orange Coast College and Oregon State) who got in a pair of carries for four yards near the end of the game.

Defensively, it was Servite's Chris Galippo who led USC in tackles with nine on the day (three of which were tackles for losses) from his middle linebacker position. Shoemate also added a tackle on special teams.

The Trojans are certain to move up to No. 3 in the college football polls after Oklahoma's 14-13 loss to BYU. The whole season could be in the balance Saturday in Columbus against Ohio State. While the Buckeyes may be looking to avenge last year's 35-3 drubbing at the Coliseum, they just barely escaped an upset bid by Navy 31-27. The eyes of the college football world will be on The Horseshoe at 5 p.m. PST on ESPN.

Up in Pasadena, the UCLA Bruins had a solid debut with a 33-14 win over San Diego State in the Rose Bowl. Mission Viejo's Chane Moline is the Bruins' starting fullback as a senior, while Derrick Coleman of Troy was UCLA's leading ground gainer, with 69 yards on just four carries. His 29-yard touchdown put the Bruins in the lead for good, and he also had a 31-yard run in the game. Moline caught one pass for 13 yards, while Newport Harbor's Trevor Theriot also had one catch for nine yards.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Barkley to lead Trojans in 2009

In an unprecedented, but not completely unsurprising move, USC head coach Pete Carroll named true freshman Matt Barkley as the Trojans' starting quarterback for Saturday's season opener against San Jose State. Barkley, the former four-year starter at Mater Dei, was an early commit to the Trojans and graduated high school early so that he could enroll at SC and participate in spring drills.

He quickly surpassed junior transfer Mitch Mustain as the No. 2 quarterback, and was rated just under designated starter Aaron Corp of Orange Lutheran. But with Corp hampered by a cracked bone in his left leg, Barkley was impressive enough for Carroll to declare him the starter for the season. Perhaps even more suprising was that Carroll did so before the Trojans' final intersquad scrimmage and just when Corp was coming back on the practice field.

In an interesting footnote, Corp was 2-0 against Barkley during their high school careers. Corp had 226 total yards (142 passing, 184 rushing) in a 27-21 nonleague season opener in 2005. Barkley threw for 107 yards and a touchdown in his freshman debut for the Monarchs.

A year later, the teams met in the newly-formed Trinity League, with the Lancers winning 24-21. Barkley threw for 219 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns to rally the Monarchs, but Corp had 249 passing yards while rushing 59 more and touchdown, and guided Orange Lutheran to a last-second win on their way to winning the CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship and eventual CIF-State Division I title.

Two of the county's all-time best prep quarterbacks, Corp and Barkley met twice as opponents during the high school careers. Corp led Orange Lutheran to a pair of closely-fought wins over the Mater Dei in 2005 and 2006.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Irrelevant Week Is Here

A time-honored Orange County football tradition continues again on Monday as Irrelevant Week literally "kicks off" Monday. The annual celebration of the underdog is in its 34th year and begins with a beach party at the Newport Dunes Waterfront Resort beginning at 2 p.m. It's $20 for a ticket, with parking included in the price.

This year's honoree is South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop (yes, pronounced 'suck-up'). The Gamecocks' No. 2 all-time scoring leader was the 256th and final pick in this year's NFL Draft, and was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs. He was 30-for-30 on extra point attempts, and 20-for-30 on field goals, with four of those misses coming from 50 yards or greater.

While he focused on placekicking this season, Succop has also punted and handled kickoffs in his career at South Carolina. He is only the second kicker to be chosen as "Mr. Irrelevant," the first being Daron Alcorn, a kicker/punter from Akron University, chosen by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1993.

Together with an entourage of a dozen (comprised mostly of family members), Succop will get the royal treatment, including an Angels game, a trip to Disneyland, and the annual Lowsman Banquet, where he will receive the (coveted?) Lowsman Award.

All the information is readily available at the Mr. Irrelevant website at


As Ryan Succop gets ready for tonight's Lowsman banquet, he just signed a contract with Kansas City on Wednesday. He is the first of the Chiefs' eight draft picks to sign, and he can now focus on competing with second-year kicker Connor Barth for KC's starting kicker position.

More details are at Chiefs sign kicker Succop