Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen vs. USC’s Matt Barkley


Continuing with my bye-week coverage of the USC-Notre Dame matchup, this article is a follow up to my previous one: Overrated: the Notre Dame Offense or the USC Defense?

If you haven’t read that yet, be sure you do and let us hear your thoughts on which one you believe is overrated.

Notre Dame’s Jimmy Clausen is tied nationally with Zach Maynard (Buffalo) at 32nd in passing. Besides the Heisman candidates, some of the other quarterbacks who rank ahead of Clausen include Greg Alexander (Hawaii) and Cody Hawkins (Colorado) tied for 9th, Christian Ponders (Florida State) 11th, Tony Pike (Cincinatti) 16th, Greg Paulus (Syracuse) 28th, and Jake Locker (Washington) 30th.

Here are Clausen’s numbers after five games:

Att. Comp. Int. Pct. Yds. Yds/Att. Yds./Comp. TDs Comp/Game

148 100 2 67.57 1544 10.43 15.44 12 20.00

Before I give you all the numbers on Matt Barkley, let’s play a game of Best and Worst.

There have been four quarterbacks that began their USC careers under Pete Carroll: Matt Leinart, John David Booty, Mark Sanchez and Matt Barkley. Carson Palmer did not start his career with Pete Carroll. He was already the starting quarterback when Carroll took over for Paul Hackett.

Here are the stats for the best and worst of those four after their first four games:

Comp-Att. Pct. Yards TDs INTs P.E. Record

Best: 96-142 67.6% 966 10 2 145.17 4-0

Worst: 72-124 58.0% 924 8 6 132.27 3-1

Can you put a name with those best and worst statistics? Best: Matt Leinart? Worst: John David Booty?

That’s what you would think, isn’t it? Well, think again.

John David Booty had the best start after four games under Pete Carroll. Matt Leinart, who became the greatest quarterback in USC history and was recently voted the College Player of the Decade, had the worst start after four games.

As you can see, past statistics are not always a good indication of future results. Matt Leinart’s career took off from there.

Here are the statistics for all four starters under Pete Carroll after their first four games.

Name C-A Percent Yards TDs INTs P.E. Record

Matt Barkley 63-107 58.9% 958 yards 3 TDs 2 INTs 139.60 4-0

Mark Sanchez 92-145 63.4% 980 yards 10 TDs 5 INTs 136.08 3-1

John David Booty 96-142 67.6% 966 yards 10 TDs 2 INTs 145.17 4-0

Matt Leinart 72-124 58.0% 924 yards 8 TDs 6 INTs 132.27 3-1

As you can see, Barkley’s numbers are not great compared to Clausen’s. Barkley’s three TDs pale in comparison to Clausen’s 12. Nationally, Barkley ranks 70th.

But to be fair, the Trojans haven’t asked Barkley to win games the way Charlie Weiss has asked Clausen. USC has used the passing game to support its rushing offense. The Trojans have racked up 13 rushing TDs while Notre Dame has only six.

Going up against the 104th ranked pass defense in the nation, Matt Barkley’s career could take off in this game like Matt Leinart’s did.

Barkley and Clausen have met each other before. When Barkley was in eighth grade, he trained with Clausen at Steve Clarkson’s quarterback training academy. Clarkson also coached Matt Leinart.

Next week they will meet once again. This time it could mean a shot at a BCS Bowl and possibly even the Title game for the winner and a huge setback for the loser.

No doubt with the Trojans ranked No. 3 in rush defense, Notre Dame will need to put this game squarely on Jimmy Clausen’s shoulders once more. The Irish hopes will rest on his ability to find the open areas in the 27th ranked pass defense.

With his shoulder now at 100 percent, Barkley will get the green light to go long against the 104th ranked pass defense.

Both quarterbacks will feel the pressure; Clausen from the Trojan rush, No. 2 in the nation in sacks; and Barkley from behind.

Should Barkley look over his shoulder, he just might spot a real threat to his position as the Trojans’ starter.

I will have more on that in my next report along with a wrap up of important happenings during bye week. So, be sure to check back.