LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Matt Barkley plans to take a freshman approach to his fourth and final training camp for Southern California.
''I'm not really thinking of it as my last camp,'' Barkley said Wednesday. ''I just don't think of stuff like that, but kind of try to approach it like my freshman year. ... I know a lot more than I did that year, but it's still a fun experience.''
While coach Lane Kiffin said Barkley's approach hasn't changed much year to year, Barkley acknowledged that the goals are different this time around with the team being bowl eligible after it was banned for the past two seasons because of sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush scandal.
''I think our mindset to this year has just changed in terms of being bowl-eligible and the chance to do something special,'' Barkley said. ''You just have to keep your head up and know that there's a light at the end of the tunnel.''
The constant learning that comes with being a quarterback has kept Barkley's mindset fresh. After starting as a freshman and playing two years without a postseason, he decided against going to the NFL in December to play with the Trojans one more year with a shot at a bowl.
''I've always just figured I don't want anyone else to know something that I don't know so if I'm studying film or whether it's the playbook, I have the fear of failure of being asked a question or being out there not knowing what to do,'' he said.
Fellow USC quarterback Cody Kessler said that knowledge has transferred over to the entire position group.
''It's kind of cool to see that from a guy, especially with so much talent and how big he is, hype-wise, and how big around the country he is, to kind of take time to help me and Max (Wittek) and show that he really cares about the team. He's putting his time into us and he has to worry about his career at the same time.''
Last season the Trojans didn't have a clear-cut backup quarterback, but Kiffin said Tuesday that there will be one to start the 2012 season.
He hopes to make a decision between Wittek and Kessler by the end of camp.
''I think both (backups) are doing well,'' Kiffin said. ''Max (Wittek) has gotten bigger and stronger in the offseason and Cody (Kessler) has really improved on a big area of concern, which was lengthening his stride, getting away from the line of scrimmage being one of the shorter guys we've had before.''