Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 10/26/12
Matt Barkley threw 20 passes against Washington and looked dreadful. He completed just 30 percent of his passes in the second half. Head coach Lane Kiffin talked about how any quarterback wouldn't be happy by throwing just 20 passes. What a difference a week makes. Barkley threw the same amount of passes against Colorado last week, 20, but he completed 19 of them. Six were touchdowns, tying his own record for most in a game by a Trojan. Included in that bunch was his 100th career touchdown pass which broke the USC and Pac-12 career record. Robert Woods became the school's all-time leader in receptions and set a USC single game record with four touchdown receptions. The career marks loomed over the Trojans heading into the game against the Buffaloes. That's behind them now, much to the delight of Kiffin. "Now we're just back to playing ball," said the Trojans head coach. All of their attention must be devoted to Arizona (4-3, 1-3 Pac-12 South) and their high powered offense under first-year head coach Rich Rodriguez as No. 9 USC (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12 South) prepares to visit Tucson on Saturday at 12:30pm. Kiffin has spent all week telling whoever would listen that the Wildcats should be 6-1 on the season and to not be deceived by their record. He went as far as to say he's "surprised they're not ranked." Barkley, Woods, and the USC offense aside, the USC defense is primed to face their stiffest challenge of the season. Arizona is fifth in the country in total offense, averaging 548.5 yards per game. Fifth-year senior quarterback Matt Scott, a former star at Corona Centennial High School, has thrown for over 400 yards twice this season. No other quarterback in the conference has done as much. He's fourth in the country in total offense, averaging 374.3 yards a game. Scott is the only Pac-12 quarterback with over 2,000 yards passing heading into this weekend's action, but he can also run, which makes him dangerous when he gets out of the pocket. "(We have to) tackle him in open space if he gets out," said safety T.J. McDonald. "You can't tackle him like a quarterback, you have to tackle him like a running back." Running back Ka'Deem Carey is sneaky good. He's broken the 100-yard mark five times this season, which is tied for tops in the conference. While they might not be the Pat WhiteSteve Slaton duo that brought Rodriguez notoriety during his days as West Virginia, they're as good as any quarterbackrunning back tandem the Trojans will face this season. "They're as explosive as anybody, not just in the conference, but in the country," Kiffin said. And they operate at a high tempo. Kiffin admitted he used the Colorado game to help his team prepare for the no-huddle spread teams USC is scheduled to face during the final stretch of the regular season, beginning Saturday in Tucson. Not only was The Stanley Cup on hand at the Coliseum last Saturday, but there were line changes on the field, primarily in the USC secondary. "We rotated based off of preparing for the next two opponents," Kiffin said. "We wanted to not get to this week and all of a sudden have a no-huddle rotation so even though they weren't no-huddle we treated our reps that way. "That's why you saw, really all of our guys --even T.J. McDonald and Nickell (Robey) --rotate in there which is unusual for us. It's very critical for those guys to go in and play well. We're going to need them down the stretch here with these high powered offenses." A big adjustment during the Kiffin era has been the evolution of the linebacker. Dion Bailey entered school as a safety but was converted to linebacker before last season. Tony Burnett played in the secondary as well and is now a linebacker. It's a tweak to the defense that allows them to be faster to compete with spread teams. "I feel like these are the games I was moved to this position to play against ---spread teams, hurry up, throw the ball 70 times," said Bailey. "It's a great opportunity for me to increase my interceptions numbers. I got to get my hands on the ball, help my team create turnovers this Saturday." They're going to need them against an explosive offense such as Arizona's.
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