Neuheisel: USC better without Barkley

CAMP

TONTOZONA, Ariz. — During a trip to Arizona State’s fall

camp, Pac-12 Network analyst and former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel sized

up the Sun Devils’ competition in the Pac-12 South. In doing so, he

revealed a bold opinion about perennial conference power

USC.

“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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