Syracuse coach Doug Marrone is acutely aware of the challenges Matt Barkley presents heading into Saturday's game against top-ranked USC in the New York College Classic.
Last October, Barkley shredded the Orange secondary with 324 yards and five touchdowns. During Monday's Big East coaches' teleconference, Marrone indicated that Barkley, not Robert Griffin III, would have been considered the top quarterback in last April's NFL Draft alongside Andrew Luck.
“I was one of a couple people that was hoping he'd go on to the NFL,” Marrone said. “I'm not going to sit here and tell you that I'm happy he's back.”
Saturday's game will be played at MetLife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets.
Besides being impressed by Barkley's intangibles, Marrone raved about Barkley's pocket presence and patience. Unlike many college quarterbacks Barkley excels in checking down to his backs when his downfield targets are covered, Marrone said. Barkley connected with his running backs four times in last season's 38-17 win over Syracuse.
“If he doesn't like what's going on when they (take away) the deep vertical threats, he can come right back to the backs,” Marrone said. “That's one of the things you see with the top guys in the NFL.”