With camp breaking yesterday it is pretty clear that Mark Sanchez will be the starting QB when SC takes the field against Virgina next Saturday. The dislocated patella he suffered two weeks ago appears to not be an issue as Sanchez has been through drills that will prepare him to resume full duties as starter on Monday.
When Mark Sanchez dislocated his left kneecap Aug. 8, the injury clouded USC's quarterback situation.
The clouds have parted.
Sanchez (Mission Viejo High) went about business in Saturday's game-situation scrimmage session as if the knee injury was a thing of the past.
"The trainers worked diligently with Mark and he was in the right frame of mind to heal well," USC coach Pete Carroll said.
"And he fought his way through it and it is looking like he's ready to go."
Sanchez first worked in the 7-on-7 drills early in the practice and later in the 11-on-11. Afterward, he deemed himself ready.
Its been a trying couple of weeks for SC fans as we have had to wait patiently to see who would step up in the QB derby between Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp. Neither lit the shies up, not that anyone should have expected that with both still learning the offense. But the sense of urgency with both the coaching staff and the fans is a little new to us going into the season so getting Sanchez back in the primary role should reduce the concerns about who will lead the team.
Sanchez back in the starting role will also further calm things down on the offensive line. With great strides being made to bring the unit closer together his leadership and comfort level will go a long way to help the team focus on their game plan against UVA.
Of course the lingering question is who will back Sanchez up if he were to go down again?
The answer to that is still not clear.
It is a question USC's coaches are loathe to answer. They took the easy way out when the Trojans released their depth chart, with freshman Aaron Corp "or" sophomore Mitch Mustain listed behind Sanchez.
"I don't foresee us saying who is the No. 2 guy," offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "We want to keep these guys going."
But did they give a hint? Corp was listed first, which might make sense if the names were listed in alphabetical order. But the other positions with co-starters did not go in alphabetical order, so maybe Corp earned the edge.
If that were true, it would be especially devastating for Mustain, who is a year older and started eight games at Arkansas.
Aaron Corp has pretty much "caught up" to Mitch Mustain but both have had their ups and downs in preparing for the starting role. It would be great if we didn't have to answer that question for some time. Of course Sanchez needs to take a few hits before he is completely back in the saddle and 100% comfortable.
You can tell that there is a whole different approach to the QB battles yesterday.
With Sanchez's return, and USC committed to getting him the starting quarterback's standard seven of every 10 plays in practice, the Aaron Corp-Mitch Mustain head-to-head battle looks to be a thing of the past. Mustain barely got three snaps Saturday
That pretty much says it all...
Briefly looking ahead, if SC takes care of business early against UVA then one or both could see some action in garbage time but I am not yet confident that that will be the case. The defense will do more than its share next Saturday but the offense still needs to put the points on the board and I want to see how the receivers and offensive line perform.
Sanchez being healthy is only part of the story. with all sorts of pre-season injuries happening throughout the country, just look across town, SC has been pretty fortunate in regards to guys getting injured.
This may come as a shock to folks who have only skimmed recent headlines and concluded that a walking-wounded bunch of USC Trojans will traipse into Virginia's Scott Stadium on Saturday.
But listen to Coach Pete Carroll almost giggling over the fact that USC has become just about 100 percent healthy as it heads into game-prep week Monday.
"A beautiful thing, isn't it?" Carroll said, not anticipating a single debilitating injury for a player expected to play. "It's not always that way."
There were some scares out there like the "injuries" to McKnight and Gable and there were the groin pulls and tweaked or turned ankles that come up in every camp and who can forget the chaffing issue that so many loved to make fun at. There were minor dents and dings that always come up but for the most part outside of the Sanchez scare we did OK.
Minor Update - I just saw this on SI.com:
The moment Mark Sanchez cemented himself as USC's starting quarterback this season didn't come when he led the team to a fourth-quarter comeback win over Arizona last season in his first career start. It didn't come when he threw four touchdowns passes and no interceptions in a 38-0 rout of Notre Dame in South Bend. It didn't even come this spring when coach Pete Carroll named him the starter in April, leading to No. 6 jerseys being printed and sold in the campus bookstore.
It came after he dislocated his kneecap on Aug. 9, sidelining him for nearly two weeks.
It happened as he relaxed inside a golf cart and watched Mitch Mustain throw one mind-boggling interception after another in practices. As he sat on the bench and watched Aaron Corp struggle to hit open receivers and run out of the pocket the moment he felt pressured. As he stood on the sidelines and watched Garrett Green play as well as a quarterback turned safety turned wide receiver who was asked to turn into a quarterback again could.
[...] Sanchez is USC's best quarterback and it isn't even close.
That the gap is as wide as it is may come as a surprise to those that figured Mustain, who went 8-0 as the starting quarterback at Arkansas as a freshman in 2006, would win the job after proving his metal in the SEC with back-to-back wins over ranked Alabama and Auburn, the latter coming on the road.
The realization that Mustain's Arkansas credentials meant nothing at USC came fairly quickly for the quarterback after he reviewed the Trojans' telephone-book-sized playbook. His transition is basically the equivalent of an award-winning cook at the Whole Hog Café taking a job as a sushi chef at Katsuya. He's literally starting from scratch with no carryover.
OK, that's brash but its fair and its pretty much spot on.
I was one of those who thought that Mustains experience would be the difference but obviously I was wrong. I think a lot of were a little surprised that there wasn't a clear leader when Sanchez went down so that is a bit of a concern should something happen to Sanchez.
Also, the depth chart was released. In some spots it is very "politically correct" in how they name the starters "OR" back-ups at some positions. I am jot into conspiracy theories, coaches like to keep their options open.
So now we focus on UVA!