Former USC quarterback Matt Barkley may have made a mistake by returning to school for his senior season last year. Barkley was once seen as a lock to go early in the first round of the NFL Draft, but injuries and other circumstances have resulted in his stock taking a tumble. However, Lane Kiffin insists Barkley is still a first-round prospect.
While it’s not surprising to hear Barkley’s former coach toot his horn, it is a little puzzling to hear Kiffin defend Barkley at the expense of his defense. A defense which, by the way, was coached by his father, Monte Kiffin.
“I think he’s going to be a great starting quarterback in the NFL, and the film shows it,” Kiffin told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday. “The plays he makes, all the throws he’s made here, the leadership qualities … I’ve said this before: If Matt Barkley had the defense that Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer had, Matt Barkley would have won the Heisman Trophy just like they did. He would have had the winning records they had.”
The Trojans had a number of issues last year during the course of their unprecedented collapse, and defense was certainly one of them. Considering Monte has resigned from USC and been hired as the defensive coordinator of the Dallas Cowboys, I suppose the only thing Lane could be putting a strain on is the next Kiffin family reunion.
Kiffin was so determined to boost the public perception of Barkley that he even called out one USC player by name, noting that if not for a certain mistake Barkley could have led the Trojans to a win over Andrew Luck and Stanford in 2011.
“Andrew threw an interception for a touchdown and, their very next drive we stop them, and [safety] T.J. McDonald gets called for a head-to-head personal foul that keeps the drive alive,” Kiffin recalled. “Is that Matt Barkley’s fault? If that flag’s not thrown and we stop them right there, you go, ‘Man, Matt just beat Andrew Luck.’ When I remember Matt, I think of all that stuff.”
We get it, coach. You feel that USC lost in spite of Barkley, not because of him. Easy on the family and former player bashing.