Football News and Notes for 8/15/08

So, it was the last day of vacation and I admit I blew the day off so I will catch up a bit.

A little Mail...

Lets start off with something from Stewart Mandel's mailbag over at SI.com.

So if USC's Mark Sanchez doesn't play in the opener against Virginia and Mitch Mustain or Aaron Corp plays very well and wins, and then Sanchez is healthy for the Ohio State game ... who do you start at QB?
-- Sam Willis, Los Angeles

Theoretically, the best part about having two Parade All-American quarterbacks on your roster is that if one dislocates his kneecap -- as Sanchez did last week -- there's another one right behind him. But boy, could things get complicated.

The fact is, there's not much separation between Sanchez and Mustain. They're both extremely talented. The main reasons USC's coaches anointed Sanchez the starter last spring was because of his two-year head start learning the Trojans' offense, and in part to take some of the pressure off of him. I happened to attend USC practice last spring on the day Sanchez was named starter. Several writers who attend practice daily were split as to whether the coaches made the right decision. (Corp, a redshirt freshman, finished the spring strong as well but is considered a long shot to unseat both Sanchez and Mustain.)

So if Sanchez does in fact miss the opener, and if Mustain does put on a show in Charlottesville, I don't think it would take the Trojans' coaches more than two seconds to stick with Mustain for the Ohio Sate game. That's not the problem. The problem is, what if he then struggles against the Buckeyes and USC loses. For that matter, what if Sanchez plays and does the same thing? There's going to be considerable pressure on Pete Carroll to go to the next guy off the bench ... but how long can he keep that up? He better tread carefully; a season-long QB derby is a sure way to muddle up a team's national-title hopes.

I don't know how complicated it will be but I'm pretty sure Sanchez would get the call in this situation...you know that Pete Carroll loyalty thing. And there is so little separation between the two I think its an easy decision for Carroll to go with Sanchez. As for if one doesn't play as well as the other if there is a loss then of course there will be a ton of second guessing. Both QB's are capable but they aren't infallable so we will just have to play it by ear. Thats why we have this abundance talent so I am sure the coaching staff will make it work.

Patterson Injured

Travon Patterson was taken off the the field this morning with what appeared to be an ankle injury.

Speedy receiver Travon Patterson limped off the field in frustration midway through this morning’s practice after appearing to have either sprained or rolled his ankle.

He suffered the injury following a reception during seven-on-seven drills, falling to the ground after trying to cut inside. 

He lay on the ground for a few moments but was able to walk around the perimeter of the practice field. He rode a cart off the field.

I can see why SC fans get frustrated over the injuries this program goes through but they are more frustrating when they are these type of ticky-tack injuries.

Versatility...

Last year there was a logjam at the running back position this year its at wide receiver but the same question remains...who will step up and make a statement? Early indications are that Arkansas transfer Damian Williams may be that guy.

Redshirt sophomore receiver Damian Williams has been one of the highlights of fall camp, finding a way to stand out at the team’s most crowded position.

“He’s come on like gangbusters,” Coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s right in the middle of the play time right now. He’s got a savvy about him like he’s a real veteran player. He understands the game beautifully.

“He can play all three receiver spots, interchanging from play to play, which is really an accomplishment.”

It is going to be key this season that the WR play really step up from where it was last season and Williams will be a big part of that.

QB battle takes an interesting twist...

The coaching staff has gone out of their way not to tip their hand as to who will start if Mark Sanchez is not fully recovered from his knee injury but its game on tonight for Mustain or Corp to make a statement and take control.

The two quarterbacks know an outstanding individual performance could turn their competition to possibly replace injured starter Mark Sanchez for the Aug. 30 opener at Virginia.

"It's a race to see who can take over," Carroll said Friday.

Playing behind an inexperienced line and with mostly reserve receivers, Corp and Mustain both had good moments in the Trojans' first scrimmage Tuesday.

But each turned the ball over inside the 20-yard line, and neither led the offense to a touchdown or field goal.

But here is the twist.

USC Quarterback Mark Sanchez spent another afternoon on the side of Howard Jones practice throwing with a trainer. But it might be one of his lasts.

“I bet you he will (be back next week),” Carroll said. “I bet you sometime in the middle of next week he’ll be doing stuff. That’s my guess.

“He’s doing great. The doctors couldn’t be more happy with what’s happening. The key is, no setbacks. We can’t do too much.”

SO if Sanchez is ahead of schedule on his rehab the only thing this has done is get the next guy in line a lot more prepared to step in and take the helm. Once again the advantage of SC having a lot talent available sets itself apart from other programs.

Will we finally get to see Tyler?

Marc Tyler's carer at SC hasn't taken off like he had hoped because of the injury he suffered in his senior year in high school and because of the depth at the running back position, but he is making strides at becoming an important cog in the rotation that Pete Carroll will use at RB.

Tyler continued his impressive camp with two 20-plus-yard runs. He also scored a touchdown during a goal-line drill against the first-team defense.

The coaches are giving Tyler numerous reps after he was unavailable almost all of last season while recovering from a leg injury suffered in high school.

“He’s starting to show regularly that he can make plays,” USC coach Carroll said. “He’s taking advantage of this early opportunity to get a lot of looks. He continues to show up.”

While Pete Carroll has been criticized by some about his handling of USC's depth at RB last year proved you can never have too much talent. Tyler has a lot of ground to make up but it will be great to see him get on the field and contribute.

Back with more later on today...

 

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