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Mandel on Sanchez

SI's Stewart Mandel has his take on Mark Sanchez and the expectations Sanchez needs to fulfill.

Sanchez's ascendance marks the beginning of another era for Carroll's thus-far machine-like program. With seemingly seamless ease, the torch has passed over the years from Carson Palmer (2001-02) to Leinart ('03-'05) to Booty ('06-'07) and now to Sanchez. The previous three combined to lead the Trojans to six consecutive BCS bowls and AP top-four finishes.

"There's never been a doubt with our guys whether they'll be a big time quarterback; the question is whether they continue to happen in the order they're here," said Carroll. "We gave Mark a lot of chances to catch up to [Booty] and he couldn't do it. That's where we are now -- Mark is ahead of the other guys."

Sanchez was dealt perhaps the stiffest competition to date with the arrival last year of touted transfer Mustain, who, like Sanchez a year earlier, was the top quarterback in the nation coming out of high school in 2006. He started eight games as a true freshman for Arkansas. Carroll insists that Sanchez's status as starter will remain safe only until fall camp, when the competition will continue anew. Said Mustain: "I'm not going to quit and title myself the backup. I'm going to keep fighting for it and awaiting my opportunity."

I hope that Mustain will keep fighting, as it is the only way to get on the field. I think Carroll's statement about the order of succession is a bit disingenuous because I didn't think the competition was really open but that's just me and its in the past plus there is still fall ball to get through before the that chapter is completed.

Sanchez, for now, has a lot expectations riding on him with SC's record of consecutive Pac-10 titles, BCS Bowl games and AP top-four finishes on the line as SC looks to get back to the next level. SC's loss to ucla in 2006 kept us out of a third straight BCS title game and last years loss to Stanford could easily be seen as reason enough to keep us out of last year's title game. I think an argument could be made that up to this point USC is one of the top 2 teams of the decade; the other is obviously LSU with 2 BCS titles under its belt (tOSU would be third). We've been on the doorstep the past 2 seasons now its time to break down the door.

SC continues to feed the machine and as long as Pete Carroll continues to be the head coach I see no reason that he won't continue to operate on that high level. Yes, once Slick Rick gets his sea legs across town there will be some battles over local talent, we'll win some and we'll lose some but make no mistake they will make their mark but they have a long way to go before they get tour level success. They are going to have to weed out the dead wood from the previous regime that only has the aberration of 13-9 to its credit. They won't be a factor in 2008, probably not in 2009 but they should be a monkey-in-the-wrench in 2010 but that process starts now so Pete Carroll needs to continue to be on top of his game.

With the Trojan Huddle going on today I think we will have a few more questions answered but most important is that the team plays hard and stays injury free.