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Making the turn

The biggest question for USC this upcoming season has been the offensive line. We have discussed it here on numerous occasions and the obvious concerns of how it will ultimately affect the performance of the QB regardless of who is behind center. There were big concerns early on especially when you consider that the only returning starter, Guard Jeff Byers, was sidelined with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Earlier this week Byers was cleared for full duty but that clearance came after USC's last scrimmage where Pete Carroll saw a marked improvement. Today Pete Carroll said that the Offensive Line has improved the most since camp opened.

Pete Carroll has talked about it for each of the past three days. He said his offensive line has turned a corner.

And at times, you'd just have to take his word for it.

But during Wednesday morning's practice at Howard Jones Field, Carroll's words were more than backed up by the offensive line's actions.

Both quarterbacks looked comfortable in the pocket and behind the line of scrimmage, as the offense moved the bell nicely in a number of drills.

The credit, Carroll said, should go to the offensive line.

"It's by far the most improved group on this field," he said. "In the last four days, they just look different.

"And it's interesting that it started the day Jeff Byers came back on the practice the field. That's a part of it."

With Mark Sanchez looking to return to full contact later this week or early next week in preparation for the opener against UVA things are starting to settle down on the offense. It was obvious going back to spring ball that this was going to be the one unit that had the biggest question as we headed into training camp. I certainly don't think we are our the woods yet but things are looking up!

Turning to Sanchez, as I mentioned above he is making a remarkable strides at getting back on the playing field. Even Pete Carroll is giddy.

Mark Sanchez’s performance in practice Wednesday had USC coach Pete Carroll declaring that “hope is alive” for the quarterback to start the season opener Aug. 30 at Virginia.

“He’s got a real chance,” Carroll said. “I’m not making any choices or decisions right now. I don’t need to. But I’m really encouraged by that.”

Sanchez threw passes in 7-on-7 drills for the first time since he dislocated his left kneecap Aug. 8. He reported no new swelling a day after throwing to receivers for the first time since getting hurt, saying: “My knee felt good. I didn’t even think twice about it.”

Sanchez is expected to participate in drills Thursday but won’t play in USC’s final intrasquad scrimmage of training camp. Aaron Corp will start and split reps with Mitch Mustain, who started the previous scrimmage.

In order to start against Virginia, Sanchez needs to return to practice full time by Monday or Tuesday of next week. That remains his target.

It has been a tough two weeks since Sanchez went down when coupled with all the little injuries and then the apparent big injury to C.J. Gable. As of this writing there is still no word on what the injury to his hip is.

Rivals has a video of Mark Sanchez in 7-on-7 drills and he appears to be doing pretty good.

These are the inevitable bumps in the road that will only build the character of this team. We go through a few of these every season so we just need to hang in there and let it pass. We have trusted Pete Carroll and his staff in times of adversity in the past so I see no need why we shouldn't let them do what they do best and worry about it.