No. 11 USC reins in Barkley, but keeps winning


No. 11 USC reins in Barkley, but keeps winning

SEATTLE (AP) After one of the more mediocre performances of his career, Matt Barkley faced a slew of critical questions.

At least none of them had to do with another loss.

Barkley insisted there was nothing wrong following No. 11 Southern California's 24-14 win over Washington on Saturday night that included a scoreless second half for the Trojans and Barkley's fewest completions in a game since late in his sophomore season.

``They didn't want to get beat over the top and they knew the threats we had with Marqise (Lee) and Robert (Woods) so they played very deep and played a lot of two high defenses which forced us to run the ball which we did very well,'' Barkley said. ``It just happened to be one of those games.''

Barkley attempted only 10 passes in the second half, completing just three. When the Trojans faced third downs, they often chose to hand off to either Silas Redd or Curtis McNeal and not subject Barkley to any hits from the pass rush.

``Remember two times ago we went on the road and we weren't sitting here with a win,'' Kiffin said. ``Yeah we played conservative once we got a lead like that. We've said it all along, this isn't about anybody's numbers or Heisman or any of that. This is about winning games.''

Barkley's 10 completions were his fewest since he was 10 of 19 for 75 yards late in the 2010 season when the Trojans were upset at Oregon State. But in that game, Barkley was done by halftime with a sprained ankle and the Trojans were forced to go with Mitch Mustain in what turned out to be a blowout loss to the Beavers.

Barkley's worst game in terms of numbers actually came in a Trojans victory when he completed just 7 of 22 passes in a 14-9 win at Arizona State his freshman season.

His lack of attempts on Saturday was by choice.

``I just have got to make sure the areas we can improve on we do that,'' Barkley said. ``If we're 1 for 11 on third downs we need to fix that. But if we have 200 yards rushing I'm not going to be complaining.''

Barkley entered the season as the presumptive Heisman Trophy favorite, but has been overtaken by a number of other candidates through the first half of the season. He ranks 30th in the country in pass efficiency rating and 39th in yards passing per game with the types of numbers that don't catch the eye of Heisman voters.

But he hasn't been asked to do it himself with the improvement of the running game. USC (5-1, 3-1 Pac-12) finished with 204 yards rushing against Washington (3-3, 1-2), topping 200 on the ground for the third time this season after reaching that benchmark only three times all of last season. Redd has provided the lift the Trojans were hoping for when he transferred from Penn State over the summer, recording a trio of 100-yard rushing games, including 155 against the Huskies.

Barkley is hopeful a back-loaded schedule might lead to better numbers for him. The Trojans leave Los Angeles just once the final six games of the season when they travel to Arizona on Oct. 27, and four of those games are at the Coliseum.

``It didn't seem like much to me but I think it is going to be nice coming home,'' he said. ``I think five of the last six are in L.A. which we consider home for us. I think that we will probably see a difference in the team.''

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Cousins and leadership, D-line potential

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, July 21, five days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.

How the addition of Alexander affects the Redskins' DB depth chart—Adonis Alexander was brought into the NFL about a week and a half ago and in five days he’ll be on the practice field in Richmond. How much will missing OTAs and minicamp hurt him in comparison to, say, his former Hokie teammate Greg Stroman? I think that the plan is for this to be a “redshirt” year for Alexander to learn. But that was supposed to be the plan for Josh Harvey-Clemons and Chase Roullier last year and both ended up playing key snaps. 

Can the Redskins defensive line live up to its potential? Many NFL fans don’t appreciate the value of having a good defensive line. Redskins fans are not in that group because they have seen what you get when you try to build a defensive line with over-the-hill veteran free agents, low draft picks, and undrafted players. Fans will value the talent, youth, and depth on the 2018 D-line.  

10 Questions in 10 days: LB depth chart—This is another area where the Redskins have not invested much in recent seasons. At least this year they stepped up and re-signed starters Mason Foster and Zach Brown. They are the present. Are Shaun Dion Hamilton and Josh Harvey-Clemons the future? 

The pass rush must continue to be a strength for the Redskins—With the picture at the cornerback position is somewhat murky right now, the pass rush will be critical, especially in the early going. The outside linebackers lost a key reserve, putting the burden on Preston Smith and Ryan Kerrigan to continue to get pressure on Ryan Anderson to take a leap forward in his second season. 

Tweet of the week

Well, this tweet did sort of stir things up as did some of the things that Cousins said in an article by Dan Pompei on the Bleacher Report. The thing about Twitter is that there is no room for nuance. I was labeled a Kirk “hater” by some. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. On multiple occasions, I urged the team to sign him long term and highlighted the positive aspects of his play. 

But this thing about not having a “platform” to lead always struck me as a cop-out. Cousins talked about it during some press conferences while he was here. The length of your contract should not prevent you from embracing a leadership role. You’re getting paid to lead, just do it. Few in leadership positions in business or in the military know where they will be a year from now. They embrace the role while they have it and Cousins should have done the same. 

The fact that I don’t like this one aspect of Cousins doesn’t mean that I don’t like him overall. He’s a good quarterback and I think he will have success with the Vikings. I think that the price got to be too much for the Redskins and the decision to move on to Alex Smith was sound or at least the best they could do after it became apparent that he was not going to sign here. But it’s not all one or the other. It is possible to see the positive and negative of Cousins. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler


Mike Sellers, whose seven receiving touchdowns in 2005 were the most by a Redskins running back since the merger, was born on this date in 1975.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 5
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 19
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 42

The Redskins last played a game 202 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 50 days. 

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond.