Race for USC QB job remains tight

Posted by ESPN's Shelley Smith

LOS ANGELES -- After watching his quarterbacks perform in Saturday's penultimate scrimmage of the spring, USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said the race is so tight and so competitive that he and head coach Pete Carroll could take longer than expected to make a decision on who's No. 1.

"We went into it saying we were going to name someone at the end of spring, but it may be in the fall," Bates said. "These guys are all playing well. Each quarterback is moving the offense. It's a tough battle right now, it's a fun battle. It's not like we're worried; we're really happy."

These were Saturday's passing numbers:

  • Matt Barkley: 15 for 21, 186 yards, 1 TD, 1 interception

  • Aaron Corp: 13 for 18, 170 yards

  • Mitch Mustain: 3 for 6, 33 yards

Corp is mobile and looked very much like a leader on Saturday, running the offense decisively and seemingly effortlessly. Barkley said he felt good as well and was proud of the way he shook off the interception, which Carroll referred to as a "bonehead interception."

By watching the quarterbacks on the sideline, nobody would ever guess the battle is as competitive as it is. Barkley, Corp and Mustain (and fourth-string QB Garrett Green) are each All-Americans, and each wants this job as badly as the other. Still, they cheer one another on and talk constantly about what they did on the last series and how they could have done better. Why help the guy you're trying to beat out?

"To get better," Barkley said. "If you know that at your best you can beat your opponent -- we all have that mindset -- then why not push each other to be the best so you can get better?"

But high-fiving Corp after he moved the team into the end zone with ease, fueled by a spectacular 46-yard pass to Damian Williams?

"It's our team," Barkley said. "It's our offense scoring, so you got to be happy about that."

Carroll said he and Bates will talk this week after watching film and come to some sort of decision. His first impression was that each quarterback moved the ball well, and the tempo was good. The key now, with just a week left, is to finish strong and create a game-like situation for the final scrimmage of the spring next Saturday at the Coliseum.