Barker’s first start ends in a loss

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Newly named starting quarterback Kaleb Barker had his first-ever collegiate start on Saturday evening. Despite a lopsided loss, head coach Neal Brown was pleased with his new starting quarterback.

On the surface, and on the scoreboard, the results of Saturday’s season opener weren’t pretty for the Trojans. They lost by 36 points which is the worst loss during Brown’s tenure as head coach.

Despite the loss, the Trojan offense did have some positive moments. Barker and the offense finished the game with 379 yards off offense, 255 of which came through the air.

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Barker finished the game completing 20 of his 29 passes for 211 yards and he had a touchdown pass.

“I thought he did a nice job. I thought he was under control and I never thought the moment was too big for him,” Brown said.

Despite the outcome, being able to have his first start was a dream come true.

“You play since you’re three or four years old and you dream about playing at the next level,” Barker said.

After falling behind early, the Trojans evened the score at 7 with 5:33 remaining in the opening quarter when Jabir Daughtry-Frye took a Barker handoff 23 yards for a touchdown. The Broncos then went on to score 35 strait points to to take a 42-7 lead. 28 of those points came on four consecutive drives in the second quarter. The quick ambush left Barker and the offense to think of ways to climb out of the hole.

“In football the most points you can get is six,” Barker Said. “With the score being the score, just take it one drive at a time and one play at at a time. Try to execute what the coach calls and execute to the best of our abilities. Try to get back into the game.”

The Trojans were able to pull themselves back to within 22 points early in the fourth quarter before a late Bronco touchdown officially put the game out of reach. Barker’s best throw of the night came on a 33-yard touchdown pass to receiver Deondre Douglas.

Barker is known to be a running quarterback and on Saturday the junior had to put his legs into motion after being sacked five times and hit 15 times.

“One thing I bring to this offense is the ability to create,” Barker said. “The protection wasn’t as good as it could be. I thought Boise State and their coaching staff did a really good job putting pressure on me.”

Brown expressed the importance of his mobile quarterback getting down after getting hit and not always try to get an extra yard.

“He has to take care of his body better, he has to a better job of protecting himself when he pulls the ball down and runs, which he is going to do because that is a part of his game. I’m for him when he scrambles around, he made a bunch of big plays the other night against a quality defense doing that.”

“I agree with him with the way that I feel right now,” Barker said. “I’m pretty sore, but that is something that I have hoped for since high school. I kind of missed being sore a couple days after a game. He is definitely right about when I’m outside the pocket I need to be smart about how I advance the ball and get down.”

Although the official line says that Barker missed nine throws, Brown believes it was probably closer to four.

“I missed a throw in the flat to B.J. (Smith), I threw it in front of him by a couple feet,” Barker said. “I missed that post ball deep to Damion. I felt like I did well given the circumstances of there being a big crowd and it being a big game. I just have to focus on the small things.”

The Broncos entered the season and the game with 10 of their 11 starters back on a defense that was one of the best in the country a season ago.

“I thought they were really well coached,” Barker said. “They are very disciplined. They flew around and played hard all the time. It’s hard to beat someone that won’t give up. They played well.”

Troy’s backup quarterback Sawyer Smith completed four out of his five passes for 44 yards.