USC football: 15 players to watch in spring (No. 1)

Ten days, 14 players and nearly 5,000 words later, we have hit No. 1 on our countdown of the 15 Trojans to watch in spring practice.

But wait. There’s more.

Starting Thursday, we’ll begin our position-by-position preview of spring football, including three questions (and answers) for each spot.

And remember, you can follow the USC blog on Twitter at twitter.com/ocruscblog.

NO. 1 — QB MATT BARKLEY

Profile: 6-2, 230, sophomore

2009 stats: 12 games, 211 completions, 352 attempts, 59.9 completion percentage, 2,735 yards, 15 TDs, 14 INTs, 131.32 rating, 1 rushing TD

Why he’s one to watch: Yeah, this one was about as suspenseful as Jeff Bridges winning the Best Actor Oscar. But there’s really no other choice. Barkley has to be good for the 2010 Trojans to be great.

Barkley had a good 2009 — for a true freshman. His completion percentage was third best in the Pac-10 Conference. His win-loss record was 9-3. His final game was one of his finest: a 350-yard, two-touchdown performance in the Emerald Bowl vs. Boston College.

But Barkley needs to be better. And he knows that.

Areas for improvement include decision-making and footwork. A 15-14 TD-INT ratio is OK for a freshman, unacceptable for a sophomore. (Barkley threw at least one interception in 10 of 12 starts, with San Jose State and Washington State the exceptions.) Barkley’s mind and feet need to operate more quickly.

With a season’s worth of starts and snaps, that should happen. Barkley should experience the phenomenon known as “the game slowing down.” He should have a plethora of weapons at his disposal and more-than-adequate protection despite the loss of NFL-bound left tackle Charles Brown.

So what do we want to see from Barkley in spring practice? A high completion rate. More big plays. Minimal interceptions.

If he lays that foundation, he can work his way into the 2010 Heisman discussion. And in 2011, he can win it.

PLAYERS TO WATCH SCHEDULE

USC football: 15 players to watch in spring (No. 1) is a post from: USC

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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