USC Scrimmage Report: Mitch Mustain over Matt Barkley?

Lane Kiffin has stated numerous times that Matt Barkley is the starting QB. I have no idea what factors go into making that decision...Kiffin and his staff are the ones that see the film...they see the little things we don't get to see.

But in reading the practice and scrimmage reports it would appear that Mustain is ahead of Barkley.

In the last two scrimmages Mustain has played better than Barkley...if you just read the stats. We all know the old saying...Lies, damn lies and stats. We all know stats tell only part of the story.

Who the QB's play against in scrimmage is another factor. If Mustain is going against the 2's and Barkley is going against the 1's then it is only logical to think that Mustain would have better numbers.

But how should Barkley be performing against the 1's?

It's no secret that the defense usually has the upper hand during training camp and when you couple that with a thin offensive line with some new faces it magnifies the situation.

Regardless, Mustain is getting the positive press right now...

"We’re excited to see Mitch’s development," Kiffin said."That’s been one of the brightest spots of what we’ve done with this roster. Seeing where he is now compared to where he was the first day we got here in spring practice. He’s come a long way. He feels very comfortable in the system and we feel very comfortable with him."

Mustain completed 12 of 19 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns, and Barkley completed 9 of 13 passes for 116 yards and one touchdown. Mustain, however, was able to move the offense easily down the field when he was in the game. Meanwhile, Barkley’s first-team offense, which was going up against the first-team defense, continued to struggle and stall on third downs.

Kiffin has stated previously that Mustain performing so well in the back up role gives him the option to use just one set of plays...that means starter and back-up are essentially interchangeable in one goes down.

Barkley might be feeling a little bit of heat...

Barkley once again downplayed the statistics and compared his scrimmage performances to that of an NFL starting quarterback in the preseason. Barkley, however, did admit he was frustrated by those who think he’s having a bad camp when he is unable to have the same amount of success against USC’s first-team defense as Mustain has enjoyed against the team’s second-team defense.

"You just have to have perspective and know what’s going on," he said. "This is preseason. We’ve talked before about coach Kiffin treating this like an NFL program and how these are, in a sense, NFL preseason games where the younger guys are going to get reps. I’m not disappointed with stats but more so with production and how I play. I have to make the most of every opportunity and not worry about stats. There’s definitely a difference between the one and two defenses. You just have to take that into a consideration."

I don't disagree with this...

While the stats don't lie, the info on both Barkley's and Mustain's individual performances are seen through the filter of someone who has access to practice. There really isn't the opportunity to crosscheck it with the everyday fan who are fairly knowledgeable about the team.

So starting a QB controversy is a good way to get a buzz going.

And the coaches aren't going to tip their hand with regards to any issues on the field.

But there is another side to the story...

Barkley mostly has faced the Trojans' No. 1 defense and hasn't had nearly as much time in the pocket as a result. So his performances — such as Saturday's 9-of-13, 116-yard, one-touchdown effort — need to be graded on a curve.

Coach Lane Kiffin gave Barkley a B for his scrimmages this training camp, an A for his other practices.

"I think he's had a very good camp," Kiffin said. "We're pleased with where both those guys (Barkley and Mustain) are at."

Being on the run has a lot to do with the O-Line...

We have some issues there.

Mustain knowing he is the back-up also takes the pressure off him...he isn't starting unless something major happens. All eyes are not on him.

And when Barkley gets on the field for real when the season starts he has to have the confidence in his protection.

Barkley is only a sophomore while Mustain is 5th year senior with a lot of experience under his belt so he may have an easier time going with the flow.

Interesting times...

And while we are on the subject of stats...I like how stats are used to try and push forward this argument.

For the entire 2009 season, Barkley completed 211 of 352 passes for a 59.9 completion percentage, 2,735 yards, 15 touchdowns, 14 interceptions and a 131.3 QB efficiency rating. Barkley missed one game with a bruised shoulder. Prince, who missed two games with a broken jaw and parts of two other games with injuries, was 173 of 308 for a 56.2 per cent, 2,050 yards, eight TDs, eight interceptions and a 115.5 rating.

But a case can be made that Prince finished stronger than Barkley. Over the last six games of the season Prince completed 103 of 175 passes for a 58.8 completion percentage, 1,321 yards, six TDs, four interceptions for a 129.0 QB rating. Barkley was 114 for 191 for a 59.6 per cent, 1,195 yards, eight TDs, nine interceptions, and a 116.63.

Where should we start to debunk this....

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