USC’s Own Superman Faces Kryptonite
He’s back. USC’s superhero and savior of sanctions Matt Barkley is back for his senior year and this time with a vengeance. It was hard not to look at the kid every time he took the field at a game without the song, “The Eye of the Tiger” playing in your head.
He has fight. He’s got gusto. He’s got swagger. He is the perfect USC Trojan.
So could it be a possibility that Barkley has a “kryptonite”?
Every superman has had his fair share of kryptonite they have had to overcome. For instance, the original Superman had Doomsday, Kobe Bryant has Shane Battier, Tim Tebow has the act of throwing the football, and Dwight Howard has bright lights and big cities. So what could possibly be the force to end all for Matt Barkley and USC to not bask in the glory of a Pac 12 title and or National Championship this season?
The absence of Matt Kalil could be a huge benefactor to a lackluster and underachieving season for the Trojans this year as he leaves a gaping hole so wide it can allow any aggressive defender to knock the cardinal and gold right off of Matt Barkley’s uniform.
Think back to the impact that Matt kalil had for the Trojans last season. He had a blocked field goal to win the inaugural Pac 12 game against Utah at the Coliseum in front of a sold out crowd. He was consistently protecting Barkley while he was grilling steaks and throwing them to Robert Woods or Marquis Lee. He helped the Trojans average 456.8 yards of total offense, while allowing only 8 quarterback sacks (a figure that ranks tops in the nation). Kalil also excelled on special teams, where he blocked four kicks this year (2 blocked PATs, 2 blocked field goal attempts). Kalil spoke volumes in his play and protection of Matt Barkley.
Before Barkley’s decision to stay at USC, it was often speculated that Matt Kalil and Matt Barkley were a package deal heading into the NFL declaration decision. If Matt Barkley declared, so would Kalil and vice versa. Most of this speculation was due to that fact that Barkley would solely lose his protection on the front line.
To put a twist on the speculation of Matt and Matt staying or going, one stayed and one is gone. Barkley shocked the world saying he would stay due to “unfinished business he had to see through”. While Kalil declared for the NFL leaving a huge imprint on the “I’m In” sign at the beginning of the Trojan tunnel before storming past the “Play Like a Trojan Today!” banner and taking the field. Kevin Graf or big guy Aundrey Walker will be fighting for the starting OT position hopefully filling those huge shoes Kalil left in the Trojan locker room.
However, who could blame him? Kalil is projected to be the number 3 pick in the first round of the NFL draft. With a top pick like that and the dollars that follow it’s hard for Kalil not to take advantage. His brother Ryan Kalil who also played for USC is the highest paid center in the NFL and was drafted in 2007 by the Carolina Panthers in the second round.
Now with Matt Kalil gone and uncertainty taking his spot for now, it appears Matt Barkley has found his kryptonite. Should Graf or Walker not step up, Barkley will be finding himself eating grass with the likes of Oregon, Utah, and Notre Dame’s pass rush next season. Barkley is quick to get the ball out in tight coverage and in some circumstances is mobile enough to avoid a sack by scrambling out of the pocket, but one thing is for sure for Matt Barkley, he will be in unfamiliar territory not being able to throw the ball in his standard comfortable fashion.
If Matt Barkley struggles with opposing pass rush and fails to get the ball to his two star receivers, the 2012 season could be a long one for the Trojans with both the Pac 12 title and National Championship on the line.