It might not make any difference when USC chooses its starting quarterback, but Thursday's practice was finally the day freshman Matt Barkley wanted since he enrolled in January.
Barkley did not throw any interceptions and admitted he enjoyed his best performance of spring drills with an effort that made him look like a veteran quarterback.
"It probably was my best day completion-wise and as far as being relaxed and calm and going through my reads properly," Barkley said.
"I feel I'm playing the best I can play right now."
That does not mean he surpassed his competition - sophomore Aaron Corp or junior Mitch Mustain. But the large crowds at spring practices seem to hang on every throw the highly publicized prep star makes and he flawlessly ran the third-down drills that were the focus of the practice.
"It can only get better from here," Barkley said.
"I feel comfortable. Absolutely (I can start), that's what I came here to do."
USC coach Pete Carroll plays it close-to-the-vest when discussing which quarterback looks best, but complimented Barkley's intelligence.
"He's not bogged down on the installation and terminology and it's giving him a chance to compete," Carroll said.
"Usually, the freshmen struggle and he's handling it."
Perhaps the more interesting question than who will start for the Trojans is how many Pacific-10 Conference schools would start any of the three over their own quarterbacks. Other than perhaps Oregon's
Jeremiah Masoli and Washington's Jake Locker, it's difficult to see who would not want to add Corp, Mustain or Barkley as their starter.
"They probably could start, they're all that talented," offensive coordinator John Morton said.
Linebacker Luthur Brown will miss the rest of spring practice with a strained shoulder. A similar injury kept him out last season and he's rarely been healthy since he arrived at USC.
"He really could be contributing," Carroll said.
"It is hard because you can't tell what will happen (with his health). He's as good as any guy we had here but just hasn't been able to sustain consistency."
Malcolm Smith, Chris Galippo and Michael Morgan have not been challenged for their positions and remain the starters are linebacker.
Carroll said sophomore Tyron Smith would start right tackle if the Trojans played today. However, one reason is that offensive line coach Pat Ruel is currently using Butch Lewis at guard and tackle Nick Howell's missed practices with a sore hamstring ... .
Smith will play a significant amount next season, though, especially after he did not redshirt last season and USC cannot afford to waste two seasons of eligibility for the talented tackle. ...
Wide receiver Brice Butler would be the fourth receiver right now although Jordan Cameron and Travon Patterson remain in the mix. During spring break, Butler drove down to Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana so he could perform pass drills with Barkley ... Tight end Anthony McCoy returned from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for a week. Offensive guard Alex Parsons finally got a cast on his broken hand.