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Final Scrimmage Notes...focusing on the offense

I'm not going to get too crazy with this as the most important questions are obvious. But it looks like the offense has really come around after a number of questions early in training camp. Now, its easy to make some observations about how the offense improving without the defense having key players involved in the scrimmage but either way there is some improvement that should be noted.

Lets start with Dan Weber at the Press-Enterprise:

Mustain (10 of 14 for 92 yards) completed more passes for more yards and had a touchdown throw. But the reason there was little separation is the way Corp completed 8 of 10 for 85 yards and led USC to one scoring drive. Mustain managed two.

We know that with a young, quick and relatively inexperienced offensive line, we can look for this quicker USC quarterback group to roll out more and pocket-pass less, especially if it's not Sanchez.

[...] We know that Joe McKnight, who has come back healthy from three injuries in the past 10 days, has to have the ball in his hands as much as USC can get it to him. He touched it six times (three runs from scrimmage, three punt returns) and picked up 66 yards and one TD.

We know that Allen Bradford (48 total yards on eight touches with six rushes and two catches) will be in the game plan, unlike his first two years here, with USC trying to get the ball to the 225-pound speedster with good hands so he can run past and over people in space.

So, a lot of positives here. I love the fact that Bradford will be a bigger part of the offense. I am pleased that McKnight is back on the field making some productive plays, his availability really is key to setting the tone of the offense because he can be used in so many different ways. This really what I wanted to see, call it Thunder and Lightning II.

As for the QB spot I get the feeling that with Sanchez ready to come back, probably on Monday, that Mustain and Corp stepped up their games to a new level. Competition does things to a players mind that sometimes makes them step up even if the odds of success are slim.

The big surprise of yesterday's scrimmage was quarterback Garrett Green. Even though he is in the 3rd string spot (with Sanchez out, 4th with him in), his experience and time on the team gives him a lot of vision at how the offense should be run and all that comes with it.

[...] the reserve who announced his presence with authority to start Thursday's scrimmage at the Coliseum was fourth-stringer Garrett Green

The same Garrett Green who, in his first two seasons with the Trojans, has thrown all of one pass in a game. The same Garrett Green who has bounced around at safety and receiver.

"I just want to get on the field," the junior said. "Regardless of what's going on, I want to play."

As neat as it is to see Green do well the chances of him starting are slim and none and slim just left town. Something catastrophic needs happen for that scenario to happen.

In the grand scheme of things this was a pretty vanilla scrimmage other than seeing how the QB's did.

The preternaturally positive Carroll and his hyper-efficiency-conscious offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, had reason to feel satisfied. The Trojans completed their "mock-game" with a performance that lacked sizzle but also was nearly devoid of glaring mistakes.

With the season opener at Virginia just over a week away, both coaches noted that quarterbacks Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain did not commit a turnover and that no one got hurt in the 78-play controlled scrimmage.

The Trojans still need to clean up penalties (eight were called against the starters) and eliminate fumbles by tight ends (two), but they appear to have solved many of the problems that plagued them in their first two scrimmages.

Meh...the penalties will always be our Achilles heel. I would love to see them go away but the aggressiveness of the defense and the newness of the line will always cause us some anguish. But not having any turnovers is a bigger deal for me. Either way...vanilla.

I'm liking how the haters like Ed Cunningham and others aren't sold on USC. I think its a great motivator but I also think it takes the pressure off with some of the questions that this team has. Let UGA and tOSU have the spotlight, its lonely at the top so let them have all the attention.

Now, the 800lb Gorilla in the room is Mark Sanchez. Where does he fit in in the offense? Will he be 100% for Virgina prep? I think its clear that he has the best grasp of the offense and with his ahead of schedule recovery on his dislocated patella. the question will he be effective and when he starts to go through some real contact will the knee respond as it should.

Before the scrimmage began, quarterback Mark Sanchez participated in team and individual drills and didn’t show any ill effects from his healing left knee.

Afterward, USC coach Pete Carroll said Sanchez should “enter back into the mix by Monday for sure.” That would put Sanchez on track to start in the season opener a week from Saturday at Virginia, a prospect that seemed questionable at best when Sanchez dislocated his left kneecap Aug. 8.

“If he makes it back after this work today, I think in the next couple days he’ll be practicing full speed with us,” Carroll said. “He’s positioning himself to be the No. 1 guy. He came in in that position. If he can show us that he’s ready … it’s likely that we’d go that way.”

To me the biggest question is who gives us the best chance to win? That is really all that matters. If it is Sanchez that's fine if not then who steps up, Mustain or Corp? That question will answered I think sooner rather than later.

It's game week!