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Thursday News and Notes

A busy day yesterday kept me from posting up anything of substance so lets look at the news.

Sanchez looking to return for the Nebraska game

Mark Sanchez threw a nerf football yesterday at practice as part of his rehab from a broken thumb 3 weeks ago. Having Sanchez available, provided he is healthy, will be a good thing going into the Nebraska game.

On Wednesday, a day after testing his pain threshold by tossing a Nerf football after practice, Sanchez worked out for the first time since suffering the injury during a scrimmage at the Coliseum.

"Nerf ball to full recovery in one day -- we should have done it two weeks ago," Coach Pete Carroll said.

Sanchez did not handle snaps or participate in contact drills, but he looked sharp during seven-on-seven drills and proclaimed that he would be available when USC plays Nebraska on Sept. 15 at Lincoln, Neb.

"I felt accurate," Sanchez said. "I thought that would be my biggest concern, you know, coming back off that break and not being able to put the ball on target. But I felt good."

I think Sanchez put a little too much pressure on himself in fall practice. The arrival of Mitch Mustain certainly could not have been the most comfortable for him and it would not surprise me if he felt a little territorial over what he probably feels is his job to lose. There is no need to feel that way until NEXT summer so hopefully his time away from competition the last few weeks has helped him look at things differently.

More to the story...

I certainly didn't notice that freshman Everson Griffen started Saturday's game against Idaho. I haven't memorized the players jersey numbers so I completely missed it. For those who did there is a little more to the back story on this notable start.

One of USC's most hotly contested position battles was still smoldering a bit Tuesday, three days after Everson Griffen surprisingly became the first true freshman defensive lineman in more than two decades to start a season opener for the Trojans.

Junior end Kyle Moore said Griffen supplanted him in the starting lineup against Idaho because Moore was 10 minutes late for the team bus Friday afternoon.

"Coach [Pete] Carroll told me, 'You're not starting if you're going to be late,' " Moore said. "I got caught up with my family -- it was my fault. . . . I won't ever be late again."

Griffen and Moore have been battling since camp opened and Griffen has been very impressive in practice. I won't go as far to say that it was a historic event but the accomplishment was impressive. Moore did get into the game and had 4 tackles, had a sack, forced a fumble AND had a fumble recovery... think he was motivated? While Griffen is talented he still has to learn the ropes in a real game situation but I am not concerned as he will make his presence known in due time.

Washington chomping at the bit to return

Chauncey Washington wants in real bad. With a Grade III sprain to his shoulder hat has kept him out of all activity you can tell he wants to make his mark on the field.

If Washington does return -- and regain his starting job -- the Trojans will again have a tailback glut.

The running game was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lackluster 38-10 victory against Idaho. C.J. Gable started and carried eight times for 68 yards. Stafon Johnson carried 12 times for 64 yards.

As mentioned in the article, Chauncey's injury is actually worse than the one Jarrett suffered last season so until he actually gets pads on and takes a couple of hits I don't think anyone will know if he is ready to go. [Hershel Dennis also returned to practice] yesterday after being out a bone bruise to his knee.

So...are we having fun yet?

The shock! The horror! USC didn't hang half-a-hundred on Idaho! SC's less than stellar performance on Saturday has made for some interesting reading around the internet.

There is this from Pete Arbogast:

Yes, it appeared the game against Idaho presented a lackluster performance and a possible "light-switch" effort, but you have to take several things into consideration.

The starters played three quarters, the lineups changed constantly, making continuity difficult for players and coaches, the stats WERE lopsided, the defense did a really good job, and SC won, and won big. Not big enough? Perfection is not the goal.

We did not apply pressure to the QB as he was delivering on a series of one step drops and shot gun passes. We over pursued a couple of times on "passing downs" only to be fooled by good run calls. 64 players played, 13 first timers, a great number considering the fact this roster is loaded up on top.

Booty looked okay considering his favorite receivers from a year ago are gone, and fave from this year was out. Runners looked pretty good, too. So did the kicking game. We were upside down in turnovers and won by four touchdowns.

Most importantly, Nebraska saw nothing.

You'll understand if I take that with a bit of a grain of salt, as others have noted that even "Some of the big guys were inconsistent too.". Then there is the other end of the spectrum over at HP:

* Sorry, but USC did not play like a No. 1 team, much less the greatest team of all time (as Jim Harbaugh claimed). I challenge any USC fan out there who thought going in that USC would score less than 40 points against Idaho to speak up in the comments section.

The Trojans have so much talent, there is no excuse for not overwhelming the Vandals. Where were the big plays? Where was the physical dominance? Where was the fire? Not much of that at all from what I saw.

USC is the first preseason No. 1 team in a while to open a season without any proven playmakers at running back or receiver. Keeping speedy uber-recruit Ronald Johnson on the bench while former walk-on Brad Walker (of Rose Bowl lateral fame) takes up most of the snaps doesn't help that situation.

A couple of things here, after the game I was leaning more towards HP's side of the argument. With all of the hype from the MSM it was hard not to feel that way. We EXPECTED a blowout win. I would say we got a blowout winning by 4 TD's but we weren't happy with how it looked, again, we have been spoiled by some spectacular play the past few years. I'm not yet ready to call it a pedestrian win but I will say it was different that what we expected, especially with all the hype that started after the Rose Bowl.

As for not winning by 40, who cares, none of us would be scratching our heads or wringing our hands had SC given a more solid effort regardless of the score, its not always about how many points that are scored. SC is in a bit of a catch-22 here; if they blow them out then our detractors simply point to the team we played and say that they, Idaho, were not a competitive match up for SC. The inverse is what we have here because we didn't blow them out or play more solid the skeptics come out in droves. Arbogast makes some good points but in the end the fans want to see SC dominate their opponents with a little more pop than what we saw on Saturday. If that happens the score will take care itself.

On a lighter note

USCripsit has a great post on their site chronicling the top 10 games of the Pete Carroll era. Ben does a pretty good job over there so make sure you check it out