Pete Carroll has come as close as he can to naming Mark Sanchez as the starting quarterback for USC.
While both Mark Sanchez and Mitch Mustain threw two picks in yesterday's practice, the interceptions that Mustain threw were far more alarming. "It was just playing reckless that hurt me," Mustain said. "I kind of forced it, I was frustrated." Mustain had a safe, short pass completion in front of him, but instead threw a riskier pass for more yardage. Mustain did end up throwing a forty-yard TD to wide out Ronald Johnson, but overall, it was not a good day for him.
While Sanchez threw two INTs, one of them was not entirely Sanchez' fault. The pass was high, but bounced off RB Joe McKnight's hands and into the waiting hands of CB Kevin Thomas, who had picked off Sanchez twice for the day. "Usually, you get a good feeling when you leave practice, how it went, and I don't think it went well," Snachez said.
Aaron Corp proved his versatility and speed with a thirty-yard bootleg for a TD.
The problems facing Mustain and Corp in terms of competition are obvious. They both are in their first season, and besides learning new plays, plays that Sanchez already has down, they don't have the leadership experience at USC. Mustain threw risky passes in order to impress the coaches and gain an advantage over Sanchez, but in the end, it blew-up in his face.
Pete Carroll, however, might be able to take some of that pressure of Mustain and Corp. He said yesterday that it "was improbable" that anyone would be able to take away the starting quarterback position from Mark Sanchez, and that Sanchez was ahead of the other two quarterbacks after the first week of practice. It's nice to have that monkey off our back and know who the starter is right away, isn't it?
In other news- the O-line situation. LG Jeff Byers is the only returning starter on the O-line. The Trojans lost three seniors, and one junior, and the quarterback competition could be pointless if O-line coach Pat Ruel can't fill the positions to fend off a pass rush, and create holes for the rushing attack.
The good news is this; while the line will be young, they won't be newbies. Center Kristopher O'Dowd started three games last year when center Matt Spanos tore his triceps, and said, "If we tighten down a couple of things, we have a chance to be of the best offensive lines in the nation." Three other Trojans have also had some starting game experience, so it's not a dire situation. But it is concerning.
Other news: today is Pro-Day at USC! I'm betting that Sedrick Ellis goes higher in the draft than Glen Dorsey, and today could be the day that he proves that. What say you, Trojan fans?
Good luck Sedrick, Lojack, Sam Baker, JD Booty et al.
- WR Damian Williams is in a boot while he recovers from a sprained left ankle suffered when he tried to avoid colliding with a small child on the sidelines during practice.
- FB Stanley Havili (strained groin muscle) did not practice.
- LB Brian Cushing (ankle) did some 7-on-7 drills.
- LB Rey Maualuga (pulled hammy) participated in a light workout.
- WR Vidal Hazleton (stomach surgery) has returned to the field.
- OT Butch Lewis (knee) participated in part of the practice, after missing last week.
- OG Zack Heberer (back) participated in part of the practice, after missing last week.
Finally, some other stuff to keep you occupied while you wait for the season to start, and trust me, it's a long, freaking wait, dang it!
Check this link out for some really great takes on USC and UCLA football..it's hilarious!
News from that other team in Los Angeles- UCLA.
UCLA had a sked change and is now playing the Tennessee Vols on Labor Day, Sept 1, at 5 pm PST, instead of the original Sept. 6th date. They were originally sked to play Fresno State on August 30th, but they will instead face the Dawgs on September 27th. This Vols game, by the way, will be aired on ESPN, as a Monday Night special. The Bruins getting some prime-time exposure on ESPN...what has this world come to?
A couple of thoughts on this.
One, as much as I hate to root for the 'Ruins, I'm going to have to do just that. They are facing an SEC team, and after hearing so many SEC fans shoot their mouths off about how superior their conference is, how about showing a little love for a Pac-10 team? Go Bruins!
Two, and this is a biggee, UCLA usually did very well in the first half of the seasons, but faltered in November, under Karl Duh-rell. So this will be an interesting gauge to see how Rick Neuheisel's debut goes in terms of smacking around a first game opponent. Fulmer has a huge crisis on his hands, with handfuls of players either in Knox County jail or facing suspensions for various "team rules infractions." The Bruins should be able to be competitive at the Rose Bowl, but there's this lingering doubt, which brings up my next point.
So far, I haven't heard any whisperings about UCLA's football team, but then again, their Spring practice doesn't start until April 3rd. They're probably still zoned out on basketball, as well they should be, but I have this feeling that their QB situation is going to be very dicey this season. Just who will start?
Ben Olson has had numerous injuries, and Cowan filled in nicely until he got hurt. The O-line didn't do a great job of protecting the QBs, and according to Bruin Roar, the center position will now most likely have Mikah Reed, a guard, starting. Interestingly, Reed wasn't a scholarship player last year. That's a scary thought, but Slick Rick must know what he's doing.
Both Olson and Cowan are seniors, so you have to wonder who will take that big step and prove he's the leader. Last season's waiting game was ridiculous, and Neuheisel will have to make up his mind shortly after Spring practice to give the team some sort of unity. My take? Patrick Cowan has been more consistent, while Olson has under-achieved considering all the hype surrounding him. He's not mobile, and his accuracy is questionable when under pressure.
Olson's rating is 115.3, while Cowan's is 103.5, but Olson's pass ratio (7 TDs, 6 INTs) is much worse than Cowan's (4 TDs v 2 INTs). Cowan also has a higher completion percentage, 53.3 v 48.3, than Olson. More props for Cowan: he played the tougher teams, while Olson got most of the non-conference cream puffs. Olson started against Stanford, BYU, Utah and Notre Dame, (but did play against Oregon) while Cowan started against Washington, Cal, Arizona and USC. Cowan has the better resume, in my opinion.
If and when the starting QB position is announced on either team, I'll keep you updated. While I realize this is a Trojans blog, I feel it is necessary to keep you updated on the going-ons of that "other team."
quotes provided by LA Daily News and Orange County Register.