The biggest question going into this season was USC's "new" offensive line. They have the most to prove and the biggest responsibility in protecting the QB and open hole for the running game. While I would not have called the first week a nightmare it certainly wasn't pretty to watch either. With Jeff Byers out there were no returning starters to provide senior leadership and the wealth of experience that is so important for this unit to come together. Center Kris O'Dowd pretty much became the leader on the line but that still wasn't enough to curb the missed assignments and going in the wrong direction.
With 2 scrimmage's under their belt they seemed to have turned the corner.
The offensive line was USC’s biggest concern coming into camp, and its performance over the first week and a half was inconsistent at best. But Trojans coach Pete Carroll thought the line turned a corner during Saturday night’s scrimmage.
"We just executed much better last night and today," Carroll said Sunday. "So I think we’re on track to really start improving now. It’s nice. We needed that to happen."
Center Kristofer O’Dowd said he saw "a huge turnaround" from the first scrimmage to the second.
With Byers now cleared for full practice duties, that will go a long way to further shoring up the deficiencies on the line as we head head into the end of camp this week and begin Virginia prep next week.
With things looking to improve on the O line there are still a lot of questions in regards to who will start at QB. I think its pretty obvious that Pete Carroll is keeping all his options open, Mark Sanchez may be able to start against UVA as it appears that he will start running again this week.
Carroll said injured quarterback Mark Sanchez probably would not take snaps before the weekend. Sanchez will start running Tuesday.
Of course that doesn't change things in regards to getting both Mustain and Corp prepared to start against UVA. The biggest question there is are they progressing in their learning of the offense? The two big issues there are their decision making process and learning of the terminology.
"We're being really hard on decision-making," Carroll said, calling it a far more important factor than playmaking right now. "That's a big part of our evaluation." Even bigger than arm strength, he said.
But nothing definitive yet. Any of the three quarterbacks, including the injured Mark Sanchez, could start the Virginia game in 12 days.
That's a classic case of under-promising so that you can over deliver and it's the smart move. While Mustain and Corp are still "learning" the offense current third string QB Garrett Green seems to the strongest grasp of the offense but he has also been in the program since 2006 and it is not likely that he will start.
Here is a little more on decision making from the OCR:
Carroll said the coaches are really harping on decision-making with Corp and Mustain.
Mustain could have run for a positive gain while scrambling to his left during Sunday night’s practice. Instead, he tried to throw the ball to Scott Stephens, and Josh Pinkard intercepted it.
"Those types of decisions are game-crushers," Carroll said. "It’s a big part of this evaluation — who looks most ready to handle the game, make good choices and give us a chance to win football games.
"These guys have to accept that. If they’ve got to throw the ball away on third down and kick the football, they’ve got to understand that’s what we want to do. Those lessons are really the focus right now.
"You can look at arm strength, this and that, but right now it’s about who’s most comfortable dealing with all of the issues a quarterback has to handle, which is an extraordinary amount of stuff to deal with."
I am a little surprised that all the real game experience that Mustain has that he still has issues with decision making. I wouldn't think that has anything to do with the
the offensive system you're but more about common sense. There is still some time get this all worked out so like I said last week I am not too concerned...yet. How things progress this week will go a long way to settling a lot of USC fans nerves in regards to the start of the season.