Today we start a series giving you the Rant Sports Pre-Season All American Team. This team is a collective group chosen by all of our Rant Sports college football staff. For the next ten days, we’ll preview the best 22 players in the country. Up first, we’ll take a look at our All American Team quarterback, Matt Barkley, of the USC Trojans.
Matt Barkley, QB, University of Southern California:
Matt Barkley returns for his senior year in 2012 to lead the Trojans in what SC fans hope will be a run to a BCS Title. In 2011, Barkley was remarkable, as he led USC to a 10-2 record. He put up some of the best numbers in the country with 3,528 yards with 39 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. Even better, Barkley was as efficient as any quarterback in the country, completing 69.1 percent of his passes. He led a Trojan team that was ineligible for bowl competition, but kept his guys focused week in and week out. The Trojans gathered steam as the 2011 season went on, and at the end of the year, were one of the best teams in the country.
Barkley leads an offense that returns nine starters, including four of the big boys up front. Junior wide out Robert Woods returns after his break out season in 2011. Woods had 111 receptions for 1,292 yards and 15 touchdowns, and that was with an ankle injury that gave him trouble from the first game on. Opposite Woods, Marquise Lee returns after a freshman season where he caught 73 passes for 1,143 yards and 11 touchdowns. The duo of Woods and Lee give the Trojans one of the best wide receiving combos in the country.
If there is one question mark on this Trojan offense, it has to be at the running back position, where there is limited experience behind senior Curtis McNeal. McNeal carried the ball 145 times for 1,045 yards in 2011, which was good for 6.9 yards per carry. The Trojans must find quality depth behind him in order to keep opponents off balance and give Barkley a quality running game.
Two key games for the Trojans come in the month of October. Back to back road trips to Utah on October 4 and then to Washington on October 13 will go a long way to deciding USC’s fate in the Pac-12. Defending Pac-12 champion Oregon, will come calling on the coliseum on November 3, in what should be one of the most hyped games of the college football season.