Neuheisel: USC better without Barkley
AUG 14, 2013 4:29p ET
"I think -- and this is going to sound like heresy -- they'll be better because ( Matt) Barkley's gone," Neuheisel said. "Barkley was such a proven entity at quarterback I think Lane (Kiffin) leaned on him."
Neuheisel didn't knock Barkley's ability but believes Kiffin relied too much on the senior during the Trojan's disappointing 7-6 season, adversely affecting other areas.
"He wanted to get the ball to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, just keep throwing, throwing, throwing," Neuheisel said. "They never really got physical on their fronts, and the defense was on the field too long."
That lack of physicality, Neuheisel said, facilitated USC's early loss to Stanford. Barkley, a fourth-round pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL Draft last April, still put up big numbers, passing for 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns but also had a career-high 15 interceptions.
This year, many predict the race in the South to come down to ASU and defending champion UCLA.
Neuheisel doesn't quite see it that way.
"Don't count out USC," Neuheisel said. "They've got some big, good-looking guys. The question at USC is depth."
USC's depth has been affected by scholarship restrictions levied due to NCAA violations. That led the Trojans to intentionally practice softer last season to prevent injury, Neuheisel said, but in an early stop on the Pac-12 Network's tour of fall camps he saw a different approach.
"We were there on Day One, and even in shorts they're looking like a physical team," Neuheisel said. "I don't think you count them out."
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