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Football News and Notes for 8/11/08

A couple of brief things to start the day as I head out on vacation for a few days.

The QB competition is wide open, as it should be. With injury to QB Mark Sanchez a mere three days ago I wouldn't expect Pete Carroll to name a starting QB right out of the gate. he will probably need at least a week to evaluate both Mustain and Corp a little more before he makes a decision.

Corp (Orange Lutheran High) appeared to have one of his better days but added that he doesn’t sense any separation between him and Mitch Mustain.

“Not yet,” Corp said. “That’s going to take time. As soon as one starts getting more reps than the other, than we’ll officially know. Right now we get an even amount.

“It’s a matter of coming out here everyday and competing. I thought I did that pretty decent today.”

Carroll said he thought both Corp and Mitch Mustain had made progress.

“I thought they did fine,” Carroll said. “We’re still rough. We have to help them by protecting better. That scrimmage wasn’t as good as giving them a good, clean look as to what was going on downfield.”

As I have said before, It does not matter to me who starts as long as they give us the best chance to win. The fans will get behind whomever Pete Carroll chooses to open the season. But make no mistake both Mustain and Corp have a ways to go to get to that spot and SC fans are going to have to be patient. We really haven't had this sort of adversity to start the season in quite a while so we need to just settle in and let the process work itself out.

Staying on the subject of injured QB's the LAT's Chris Dufresne takes a look at the injuries to both Mark Sanchez and ucla QB Ben Olson.

Football is a rough sport, but this was ridiculous.

Mark Sanchez, a redshirt junior who had to wait for Matt Leinart and John David Booty to leave to get his chance to play quarterback at USC, dislocated his left kneecap Friday while tossing a pass to a teammate during warmups.

You know how dangerous that can be.

Ben Olson, a senior (citizen) who seems as though he's raised a family of four during his quixotic career, was carted off the UCLA field Saturday after he injured the same right foot he injured last spring, and Sunday the school announced he would be out at least eight weeks.

The whole article is tongue in cheek as Dufresne takes his stab at being funny. He get a couple of good one-liners in there but the article is accurate. While the injuries to Sanchez, Olson and Cowan are freak in nature this will happen more and more as more teams try to intensify their practices. Its a lot of wear and tear on these players so non contact injuries will increase.

Obviously SC can handle this injury better than ucla can with pretty good back-ups in Mustain and Corp.

We still have some roster spots open as there is still no word on when incoming freshman Curtis McNeil and Nick Perry will be available to get into camp. both are still waiting for the NCAA clearinghouse to certify their class work before they can become eligible.

USC freshman recruits Curtis McNeal and Nick Perry will probably miss their second straight week of training camp because they are not certified by the NCAA Clearinghouse.

McNeal, a tailback from Venice, and Perry, a defensive end from Detroit, still need to take some tests this week before all of their paperwork is submitted, according to a school official.

Until their academic requirements are met, they will not report to USC or participate in practices. Defensive end Malik Jackson of Birmingham High School in Lake Balboa still needs to be cleared because the NCAA is waiting for his senior year transcript.

But because Jackson completed his coursework before training camp, he was allowed to report and practice with the Trojans.

Good news about Jackson, I really didn't see his getting into school as being a problem/ McNeil and Perry are another matter and it will just take some time get it all put together. Having already lost Campbell to grades and Simmons to his conviction on robbery charges SC could use a little more good news on the incoming freshman front.

One thing that is always under scrutiny is the amount of turnovers that SC gets. The more turnovers the better the chance for the offense to score and usually from a pretty short field. There is always talk of Pete Carroll's defense being ballhawks but this season it appears that they are taking steps to insure they create the turnovers needed to change the momentum.

Wednesdays are the customary day for turnover emphasis, but USC coach Pete Carroll plans to harp on that theme early and often during training camp after consecutive seasons with disappointing takeaway totals.

The Trojans averaged 25 takeaways the past two seasons. In Carroll’s first five years, they averaged 38. Their turnover differential last season was plus-2 – not nearly good enough, in Carroll’s view.

“We know if we have a season where we’re plus-10, -11, -12 or something, it’s going to be really hard to beat us,” he said. “And when you’re not there, it’s a little harder to win. We’re hoping we can be great at it. Whether we are or not, I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

The defense spent the early portion of Thursday’s practice diving on the ground for fumbles and attempting to rip the football out of ball carrier’s hands.

The day before, the defense watched film of fumbles Kaluka Maiava and Terrell Thomas forced in the second half of USC’s Rose Bowl victory over Illinois. Maiava’s happened at the USC 1-yard line.

“They were driving to score; those were big turns in the game,” defensive end Clay Matthews said. “This is how we do it around here. It’s all about the ball.”

Definitely momentum changers and Illinois never got on track. Its been noted before that SC had a better turnover ratio during the Bush/Leinart era. Its easy to see why, with such an explosive offense that could score almost effortlessly it forced opposing teams to force the issue in trying to play catch-up increasing the incidents for mistakes. We saw a little bit of that against Nebraska in 2007 as SC defense put just enough pressure on Keller for him to make the mistakes we all knew he would.

Turnovers are key and with SC stout defense I see no reason why they can't increase the ratio in 2008.

Posting will be sporadic during the next week while I am down at the beach. I will get a few things up and DC will help out as his busy schedule permits.