Luckily for the Trojans, they have four talented quarterbacks on the roster that will all get an audition to become the leading man in Los Angeles.
Nationally, you get the feeling that the competition is only between Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp, but from being out at the players-only throwing sessions, I can tell you that Garrett Green and Matt Barkley both have the skills and leadership qualities to put some pressure on the two frontrunners.
When comparing Corp and Mustain, Corp appears to have a better understanding of the offense and makes the higher percentage throws. The redshirt sophomore from Orange Lutheran is also more athletic and can scramble his way out of trouble when needed, which is a nice bonus.
Mustain, on the other hand, has a stronger arm and has more game experience, having a perfect 8-0 record as a true freshman at Arkansas. Mustain can make all the throws and will stretch the defense with his arm strength, but has shown a tendency to force the ball at times, which could result in costly turnovers.
With the recent departure of Sanchez, both players are still trying to find their voice and need to assert themselves as the leaders of the offense. Whichever one can ease into a comfort zone the earliest this spring has the best shot at becoming the Trojans' next starting quarterback.
While Corp and Mustain are widely considered the favorites, Garrett Green and Matt Barkley aren't the type of players that will back down from a challenge.
Garrett Green is a crafty, athletic player that has a good understanding of the offense, having played both quarterback and wide receiver in his career at USC. He certainly didn't receive the same hype that Mustain, Barkley and Corp did coming out of high school, but make no mistake about it he is a very capable signal-caller.
Green has been somewhat of a utility player at USC, but he could start at the school across town, as well as several schools across the country.
With nine players returning on offense, having a steady senior under center could be a good fit.
Matt Barkley arrived on campus with a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The talented freshman from Mater Dei has displayed his strong arm, poise and leadership skills since the moment he stepped on Howard Jones Field this off-season.
Barkley has had a very smooth transition so far, and has gained the confidence and trust of his teammates. Whether he can continue to play at such a high-level when Luthur Brown comes charging through the line on a blitz, remains to be seen.
The challenge for Barkley is he has to compete against three quarterbacks that all have at least two years of experience in the Trojans' system.
There is no question that Barkley has a very bright future, but he needs to have a nearly perfect spring to be considered a serious candidate to lead the Trojans offense in 2009.
Let the competition begin!
Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley will be in the mix this spring
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org