For better or worse, it's nearly impossible to avoid watching freshman Matt Barkley during USC scrimmages.
The still-should-be-in-high school quarterback finished with the best stats during Saturday's scrimmage at the Coliseum with three touchdown passes and 195 yards passing as he completed 10 of 13 passes.
But the question is how much USC coach Pete Carroll valued that over the interception he threw to linebacker Uona Kaveinga, the pass attempt that he fumbled in the backfield or the pass he threw to defensive end Everson Griffen, who dropped the ball.
At least it's never dull with the former Gatorade National Player of the Year.
"You can't deny that Barkley hung in there and did a nice job," Carroll said. "We haven't seen a freshman able to do that. I'm not making any statement about what that means. I can only point to his high school (background).
"I'm not going to say anything (about who will start)."
Barkley only hesitated when asked if he should be the starter.
"I'm not going to answer that until the coaches decide," he said. "I've had confidence the whole time."
On his interception, Barkley said, "it was a throw I shouldn't have made. Nothing good happens when you throw across the field."
Barkley threw touchdown passes of 15 yards to fullback Stanley Havili, eight yards to wide receiver Damian Williams and 60 yards to wide receiver Travon Patterson. The last touchdown was about a 15-yard completion that Patterson turned into a long gain by popping through the defense.
Frontrunner Aaron Corp completed eight of 15 passes for 146 yards with a 61-yard touchdown to wide receiver Ronald Johnson. That pass was similar to Patterson's with Johnson doing much of the work.
"It seemed hit or miss, it was hard to get into a rhythm," Corp said. "I think we had two (offensive) tackles go down. I just missed some throws. I made some good throws too."
Corp kept his streak of not throwing an interception.
"It's good I didn't get any turnovers but getting into a rhythm would be more satisfying."
Mitch Mustain completed seven of 10 passes for 42 yards with an interception by cornerback Marshall Jones that occurred when a receiver fell down.
"I maxed out what I was given and had no glaring errors," Mustain said.
Carroll added that he was not concerned about the interceptions, an about-face from the previous week's scrimmage, when he chastised Barkley for an end-zone interception.
If the quarterback derby did not suck up so much energy, tailback Curtis McNeal would be the highlight of the day as he gained 101 yards in 13 carries with a long run of 38 yards.
McNeal received so many carries because all the other tailbacks are nursing injuries.
(McNeal) really looked terrific," Carroll said. "He really jumped out."
The defense also enjoyed some moments. Defensive end Malik Jackson recorded two sacks and deflected a pass while cornerback T.J. Bryant had six tackles, a sack and a deflection. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and defensive end Nick Perry each had five tackles.
"The front seven was really aggressive," Carroll said. "Most people thought we would be behind there. We were making plays in the backfield."
Starting safety Will Harris will miss the rest of spring practice because he fell below 12 units after he dropped a class. The NCAA requires students to take at least 12 units to be considered full time.
"It gives Josh (Pinkard) an opportunity to dig in as the starter," Carroll said.
USC lost offensive tackles Butch Lewis (groin) and Charles Brown (unspecified) during the scrimmage. Tailbacks C.J. Gable (hip) and Marc Tyler (hip) also left the scrimmage. Tailback Joe McKnight (foot) sat out to rest his dislocated toes.